Why do you ask for my Medical Conditions and Medications?
Firstly, before I go into this blog post, I want to ask you a question.
Would you attend an appointment that was related to your health but not divulge information about any medical conditions or medication to the medical professional?
Before your first appointment at Essential Thyme, you will be sent an online registration form which not only asked for your contact details but there are a list of questions asking about your current and past medical history, as well as if you are taking any medication prescribed by a medical professional or even over the counter medication.
So why do I ask for this information? Am I just being nosy or is there more of a reason behind these questions?
The answer is no I am not being nosy, I require the information to be able to understand what issues your body/mind is currently going through, understanding how your body may react to a massage, but mainly and most importantly is that it is for your safety to your health.
Certain medical conditions or medications can be classed as a contra-indication for massage. This means that by receiving a massage could be detrimental to your health.
Contra-indications can be sub-divided into 3 sessions:
Total – this means you would not be able to have a massage as it will be detrimental to your health
Medical – before the massage the therapist will need to gain consent from your medical team that they agree having a massage will not affect your current treatment plan. If consent is received the massage can go ahead under any guidance from the medical team and your therapist will become part of your medical multi-disciplinary team.
Localised – this means that massage can go ahead part from a specific area that would not be touched, examples can be a recent tattoo, sunburn, broken or cracked skin, fungal infections and more.
Here are some examples of conditions that are Contra-indications to give you an idea what falls into each section.
Total – Serious Heart conditions, Blood clots, High temperature, Pregnancy (first trimester), under the influence of drink or illegal drugs.
Medical – High or low blood pressure, Oedema, Recent injury, Recent surgical procedure, Asthma, Epilepsy, Arthritis, Cancer, Diabetes, Trapped Nerves, Headaches/Migraines, Minor heart conditions, Multiple sclerosis.
Local – Minor wounds, Bruising, open cuts or abrasions, swelling or inflammation in joints or muscles, Varicose veins, Sunburn, Recent tattoo, Eczema or irritation of the skin.
These are just some of the many medical conditions that as a therapist we need to know in order to be able to deliver you a safe massage.
By having all the facts about your health/lifestyle in front of me it helps to build up a picture of how your body can be reacting to the medical conditions or also how the medication maybe causing you side effects and how they affect the body, this will then determine what therapies would suit you best as not everyone will fit in the same box even if they suffer with the same medical conditions.
Looking at the examples above of the different contra-indications here is why I need to be advised of any conditions/medication you are taking.
Blood Clots (Total) – if you have a blood clot anywhere in the body the last thing, we are wanting is for the clot to move anywhere towards the heart or lungs as this can be fatal. Massage helps improve and circulatory system in the body to being a new supply of fresh blood to all the muscles and organs in the body. So by enabling the circulatory system to move it can dislodge the clot and blood flows received oxygenated blood on the left side of the heart from the lungs then pumps around the body, whereas the right side of the heart receives the deoxygenated blood that has already travelled around the body and sends it back to the lungs and on the cycle goes.
Asthma (Medical) – If you suffer from asthma whether its mild or severe, you really need to inform your therapist. If you are receiving a back massage you will be lying face down on the massage couch, this can restrict some peoples airways with pressure being applied to the chest, also there may be certain triggers which could set off an attack for you, such as certain aromas, products, pollution, pollen etc. etc., by having an understanding of what your triggers are these can be taken into account and exposure can be reduced within reason inside the therapy rooms some therapists have oils or incense burning, or could have sprayed the room prior to your visit with an aerosol which could be a trigger. Even if you have Asthma but you very rarely use an inhaler it’s still needs to be declared, because if you have an attack mid-way through a therapy session the therapist can know to watch out for such things and know where you inhalers are kept. Usually if you have your asthma under control with your inhalers and are aware of what might set off an attack, the massage can go ahead ok, however if you have had a recent attack massage is not recommend as your body is trying to process what has happened and needs time to settle and heal itself.
Bruising (local) – If you are like me and very accident prone there is usually at least one bruise on my body at some point. This does not stop you having a massage, however the area where the bruise is located would be avoided to prevent any further bruising or complications. Did you know there is a Bruise Harm Score to measure the severity of them which looks like this?
Light Bruise – Harm Score 0 = no damage
Mild Bruise – Harm Score 1 = little damage
Moderate Bruise – Harm Score 2 = some damage
Serious Bruise – Harm Score 3 = Dangerous
Extremely Serious Bruise – Harm Score 4 = Very dangerous
Critical Bruise – Harm Score – 5 = Risk of death
If you were to massage over a bruise with a Harm Score of 2 or more, you can cause more damage with further bleeding and excess fluid may accumulate causing a hard, fluctuating lump or swelling hematoma which can in turn cause Compartment Syndrome that can cut off the blood flow to the tissues due to the swelling.
As you can see you can have a very simple thing such as a bruise can cause a lot of issues, imagine what might happen if you withhold any medical condition from your therapist. You will not be required to complete the registration form for each visit, however on any subsequent visits your therapist will check with you any changes to medical conditions or medication.
There is some medication which your therapist needs to be aware of in order to keep you safe, the main one that springs to mind is anticoagulants’. These are blood thinning medication such as Warfarin, Heparin or Rivaroxaban are just a few names you might have heard of. If a client is taking this kind of medication, the therapist needs to make sure the pressure of the massage is light and not too deep as it can have a side effect of severe bruising which we don’t want to happen.
Also medical conditions can determine what kind of massage oils can be used during a session, especially with Aromatherapy as the essential oils all have different therapeutic properties as well as the carrier oils that can be used for example there is a carrier called Hypericum, I would not be using this as a carrier oil on a client who is currently taking medication for depression or low moods as its common name is St John’s Wort and this can help ease symptoms of depression, but if already taking medication for depression it can clash. Another example can be if a client suffers with high or low blood pressure, the massage alone will lower the blood pressure but if also adding in Rosemary essential oil to the mix the clients blood pressure can lower even further, which can cause dizziness or become very light headed or fainting.
One other question that I do ask, and it’s not linked to medical condition or medication and people do ask me why I need to know this. The question is ‘Are you a Vegan? Yes it might seem like a strange question for a massage therapist to ask, not wanting to find out your eating habits, but there is a range of different massage mediums I use in my practice, not just carrier oils, but I also use massage wax for some therapies and as its made from bees wax I respect that vegans would not wish this used on their bodies so I would choose an alternative in this case.
Allergies is another important question which needs to be asked, if you have say a nut allergy I need to know as I might think to use Almond or coconut oil as the massage medium for your session, but this could cause a mild – severe reaction which we don’t want. If you do have sensitive skin and you use a lotion at home without any issues then I am more than happy for you to bring this along and have it used in your sessions that way we know there will not be any reaction from my products.
So, at the start of this blog I asked you if you would attend an appointment about your health but not advise the practitioner about some or all your medical conditions/medications. I hope having read this blog you will understand a bit more into why I ask these questions, as its to protect you and your health and not me just being nosy into your life. There are so many Contra-indications for medical reasons I urge you to mention them all, even if you have your condition under control, had a recent operation or surgical procedure to rectify the issue, or its very mild like asthma and early use your inhaler it’s all very important to disclose this information to gain the best all-around massage/therapy session from your therapist.
If you have any questions about your suitability for massage and medical conditions, please send us an email.