After someone has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is understandable that he or she may need outside help in dealing with the distress and pain. Some patients ask for referrals to psychiatric counselors. Others sit down with a member of the clergy. Many turn to their friends and family.
This is, indeed, a stressful time, so pampering yourself with a massage may not be on your list of priorities. However, at Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley, we believe that massage can be a vital component of medical treatment, particularly for people battling cancer.
Therapists helped patients for thousands of years
Experts from the American Cancer Society (ACS) describe massage therapy as a form of complementary medicine that dates back to at least 2700 BC. It has been used in Chinese, Indian, Persian, Greek and Arab traditions.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) lists several types of massage therapy, all of which manipulate the muscles and soft tissues:
- Swedish massage uses long strokes, kneading, vibration and deep circular movements.
- Sports massage is similar to Swedish massage, but adapted for the needs of athletics.
- Trigger point massage focuses on painful muscle knots.
Swedish massage is one of the most common techniques used in the U.S., dating all the way back to the late 1800s. However, it wasn’t until 1992 that massage therapists around the U.S. decided to organize and form the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, allowing them to standardize the necessary training for massage therapy and help consumers identify legitimate and educated practitioners.
How can massage help mesothelioma patients?
Mesothelioma and other types of cancer are associated with physical pain and emotional distress. Massage therapists assert that this form of bodywork may be able to help with both. The ACS notes that studies support the use of massage the alleviate stress, depression, anxiety, fatigue and physical pain. When it comes to that last factor, some practitioners claim that massage can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body. Additionally, those who administer a form of massage known as myotherapy state that the regimen can improve blood circulation and sleep habits while reducing the need for pain medications.
Massage therapy is generally regarded as safe. However, you should never use it to replace standard medicine. If you are interested in massage therapy, you should talk to your physician. He or she will determine if you have a condition, such as bone metastases or low platelet counts, that can preclude the use of massage therapy.
Additionally, the National Cancer Institute notes that therapists administering a massage to patients should avoid open wounds, tumor sites, deep vein thromboses and areas made more tender by radiation therapy.
Pick the right massage therapist
The NCCAM estimated that in 2007, 18 million adults and 700,000 children in the U.S. reported using massage therapy during the previous year. The nation has about 1,500 schools and training programs. As of 2010, 43 states and the District of Columbia had laws that helped regulate this industry.
If you are looking for a reputable massage therapist, try asking for a referral from your healthcare provider first. Once you gather the names of a few candidates, make sure they are properly trained, well-experienced, compliant with state laws and properly credentialed. You also need to discuss the nature of your medical condition, what type of therapy may be the most appropriate, cost and insurance coverage.