The Value of Medical Massage
to the Journal By
Rachel Hogancamp, LMT
people think of massage only when they are stiff and sore or when they are
healing from an injury. However, massage is now recognized as an effective
complementary therapy in the treatment of chronic conditions ranging from
cancer to insomnia.
show that when patients with chronic illness commit to regular massage therapy
as part of their health-care routine, they see a true benefit. While massage
doesn’t cure cancer, it can make cancer treatment much more tolerable.
is medical massage?
message is a modality that is designed to address specific painful, emotionally
stressful conditions. These may be systemic illnesses, such as cancer, or
musculoskeletal conditions like fibromyalgia.
are several ways in which medical massage can benefit people who are living
with chronic conditions. Medical massage provides pain relief by inducing tight
muscles to relax and improving circulation. It diminishes emotional stress,
anxiety, and feelings of isolation. Massage also helps people remember that
physical attention to their body does not always have to involve poking,
prodding, and needles. The trained, caring touch and undivided attention of a
good massage therapist can make a significant difference in the way a
chronically ill person feels and in the way they respond to other medical
medical massage safe if I have cancer?
cancer-treatment plans incorporate massage; however, it is wise to see a
massage therapist who has studied this specialty. Because cancer is common in
this region, we have a therapist at Rasa Spa who studied oncology massage at
Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. When working with a cancer patient, the massage
therapist will talk with the patient and his or her physician about the effects
of the chemotherapy or radiation. This helps to ensure that massage supports
the other treatment modalities.
other chronic conditions can be helped with regular massage?
with fibromyalgia often find that massage helps to quiet the nervous
system, while calming and loosening the connective tissues that are
suffering with sleep disorders and emotional issues like depression find
that massage comforts them and helps them relax. People with insomnia are
often relaxed to sleep by massage.
can be helpful in relieving migraines and chronic headaches by working on
specific trigger points in the patient’s neck, face, and head.
of the components of high blood pressure is often stress; massage can help
to draw blood pressure down at least temporarily.
about soft tissue injuries?
massage can be very helpful to people with muscle sprains and strains, shin
splints, whiplash, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and
frozen shoulder. Massage increases circulation, loosens the fascia, relaxes
muscles, and increases range of motion.
does massage impact the mind/body connection?
promotes the body’s relaxation response, reduces anxiety, and gives people a
sense of well-being. Studies have been done on surgical patients to determine
the impact of having massage before going into surgery, and again after
surgery. The results indicate that recovery is faster in people who have had
pre- and post-operative massage. The data suggest that this occurs because
these patients went into their surgery in a more positive state of mind.
touch can have a profoundly soothing effect, both physically and
psychologically. Therapeutic bodywork takes many different forms, is easily
tailored to a client’s individual needs, and is helpful to people of all ages.
Hogancamp, LMT, is a licensed massage therapist. She is the spa director at
Rasa Spa, 607-273-1740, and co-owner with Cayuga Medical Center and Island
Health and Fitness. She is also an instructor at the Finger Lakes School of