Is massage therapy an innocent procedure? Part 2

By the way, in regards to the incident described in Part one of this blog, the lady who likely have gotten injured by the wrong application of massage, refused to see me. According to her husband, no matter how much he told her about my approach of avoiding vigorous pressure and only using gentle palpation in assessing soft tissues while figuring out the reasons for pain, she was stricken by fear and thus adamant about not seeing another massage therapist. Too bad. Perhaps I could have helped her.

From part 1: I claimed, and am claiming, that appropriately applied massage therapy protocol, have no side effects, cannot harm, and, in most cases, is very effective. In a worst-case scenario, sometimes massage may not help but in no case, it can harm.

Is the application of vigorous pressure, the only inappropriate application of massage?.

Of course not. There is a list of contraindications to massage, and if massage practitioner ignores them, there is a high probability to cause damage. Yet, there are more instances when massage therapists can possibly apply massage techniques inappropriately.

When discussing innocence of massage procedure, I believe we have to discuss the main bottom line of the power of massage, which is our ability to, essentially, balance autonomic activities.

Often massage therapists are content with “feel good massage.” What I imply is a one-hour or 90 minutes, light touch up and down, movement, including soft relaxing music. In certain cases, this “feel good” approach can affect clients in a negative way. This is especially true for people suffering from digestive and respiratory system disorders, those governed by the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system.

In such a case, one can expect a bronchial asthma attack, aggravation of digestive systems etc. I strongly believe, massage therapists regardless of the type of massage therapy they practice must remember that the balance of autonomic activities predicates ultimate health. Conversely, one can construe any misbalance as a general disorder, which branches out to many different causes.

Let's say somebody who is highly overstressed (who experiences higher than normal level of sympathetic activity), signed up for relaxation, “feel good” message, and was given a light one hour or 90 minutes massage.

We must remember that sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the nervous system act as an antagonist to each other. When we overstimulate parasympathetic activities and do this for a long time, the sympathetic subdivision increases activities to suppress parasympathetic activities, and after some time a ”feel good” prolonged procedure can actually decrease the ability of a person to withstand a stressful routine, can trigger anxieties, increase blood pressure, etc.

Often, I hear stories of people, who reportedly were receiving “feel good” light massage for stress management for a long time, actually stopped receiving it, because, after some time, stress affected them even more.

Lately, I paid attention, when communicating with scientists PhDs, MDs, how, regrettably, they have little interest in scientific theoretical concepts of massage. I am inferring that in a frame of the research, they demanded scientific details on the accompanying effects of my procedures in cases of post-concussion rehabilitation. However, when the product was developed, and I was trying to extend on the science behind massage therapy, they expressed a very little interest to it.

Practically all of them told me: ”Boris you don't have to convince us, the most important you clinically proven outcomes, in cases of sciatic nerve neuralgia, headaches, neck disorders etc. Honestly, lately, it irritates me. I am very proud of the fact that massage therapy is based on a very solid clinical science, and want to share it with the academics. Yet, it looks as if they have the interest only when they have the interest.

Scientific base of massage therapy is the reason why we are achieving sustainable results. On the other hand, from the practical standpoint, they are correct, and we can get a significant recognition by the public as well as by health practitioners, based on our record of massive reproduction of sustainable outcomes. This is the reason why I am so enthusiastic to contribute and share my knowledge and experiences.

Now it’s a bit of everything.

A few months ago, I received a patient, who was a 50 years old lady suffering from a difficult case of thoracic outlet syndrome on her right site. During the initial evaluation, I paid attention at the swelled up bulge on the left side of her face. Responding to my inquiry, she told me a long story and asked me to focus on her right site.

At the time of initial evaluations, I asked her the questions about her health that were not related to her main complaints. She told me that four months ago she was diagnosed with Meniere's disease. Life became a nightmare. In addition to that, the thoracic outlet syndrome stroke and her life really became miserable.

I felt for this lady. After 4th treatment, when she kind of felt a bit less pain, could sleep better, was much more friendly to me, I asked to tell me what is it this swallowing on the left side of the face. She said this was partly attributed to her Meniere's disease. I related to her that I have seen and treated the cases of Meniere's disease, and couldn't remember patients with this kind of bulging. I conjured that this bulging is not one of the Meniere's disease symptoms.;

Knowing that a dental abscess, as well as tumors, were excluded I asked to look at it. At this moment we had a good friendly relationship, she trusted me, allowed to look at the bulging. What I have felt with my fingers, was TMJ muscles crump not just muscular spasm but muscle cramp.

I performed a gentle TMJ massage protocol, and when it came the time to address medial pterygoid muscle, the threshold of pain was so low she cried but asked me to continue. Little by little gentle massaging, including breaks, I was able to increase the threshold of pain and continued to work on pterygoid medial. At this time, I applied ischemic compression for approximately 20 seconds, I saw on her face that she experiencing pain, but also with her other hand, she grabbed her left ear. I stopped and gave her a break. She told me that the pain radiated into her ear and that she experienced less ringing in her ear. I proposed to do lymph drainage, and then to come back to address pterygoid medial. After 10 minutes of lymph drainage, she reported less pressure in the ear and improved hearing. I went back to pterygoid medial and with breaks for approximately 5 minutes worked again. Thank God, Fifteen massage procedures returned her to life. This is her words. I already discharged her.

In textbooks, I could not find a discussion of this phenomenon. Yet, I had no doubt that exceedingly tense pterygoid medial, and other TMJ muscles, somehow, (I don't know how, and at this point really don't care how), initiated the development of Meniere's disease, including a hearing loss, vertigo without warning, tinnitus, pressure in ear, etc.

Having previously treated Meniere's disease, I couldn't remember specifically addressing TMJ muscles and succeeding. This case was different. Nothing in medicine is written in stone. We have a great advantage, and the opportunity to address many abnormalities changes within soft tissue, as well as to stimulate CNS, and by doing it we, possibly, can achieve sustainable results, in an unpredictable non-classic way. None of the healthcare professionals has the ability to address the body comprehensively, in a way we are doing it. What I'm trying to say, that in most cases following classic medical massage protocols, is the only way to achieve rapid and sustainable results. Yet, in some cases, as I have presented, sometimes we must work even broader. In this case, this swelling helped me to get this discovery I mean the initiation of Meniere's disease development started from the buildup of tensions in TMJ muscles. Therefore, by starting addressing TMJ abnormalities, it helped the lady to get her life back. Yes in the clinical world, we have an opportunity for Eureka.

As always, I am encouraging you to post questions, agreements or disagreements, different angles of view.

I am planning to write part 3, have some ideas. You're welcome to suggest topics related to the subject.

Best wishes.

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