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Medical Conditions or Injuries

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis
Plantar Fasciitis
Repetitive Strain Injury
Shin Splints
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Other Conditions

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an entrapment or compression of the median nerve as it runs through a channel in the wrist surrounded by the 8 carpus bones and the transverse carpal ligament. Nine flexor tendons and the median nerve pass through this tunnel. Constant flexion and extension of the wrist irritates the tendons, which leads to inflammation and pressure on the median nerve.

Treatments used today are:

  • trigger points in forearms especially flexors and extensors
  • correct postural deviations in shoulder, forearm, wrist
  • stretching to lengthen tendons
  • icing
  • strengthening after acute stage
Surgery is often suggested, though carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated successfully with massage.

Prevention of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome includes stretching regularly, strengthening the forearm, neck, shoulder and back muscles, learning about proper postural alignment, getting regular massage, proper self-care including diet, sleep, and stress reduction.

Side note: A high percentage of carpal tunnel surgeries are unsuccessful due to the fact that they are unnecessary. Carpal tunnel syndrome-like symptoms can actually be caused by an entrapment of the brachial plexes (nerves in the neck/shoulder) that run between the scalenes (muscles on the side of the neck). Massage can relax these muscles thereby giving the nerves the room to work properly.

Fibromyalgia, or Myofascial Pain Syndrome, is a central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction of the connective tissue of the tendons, ligaments, and muscle that cause pain.  There is a complex set of symptoms that also mimic many other syndromes and disorders making diagnoses of fibromyalgia very difficult.

A few of the symptoms are:

  • 18 specific tender points
  • no deep stage sleep (REM) or sleep apnea
  • burning, tingling and/or pins an needles
  • worse in cold, damp weather
  • depressed immune systems
  • loss of concentration, memory loss
  • improper posture
  • asthma, sinus conditions, post nasal drip
  • dizziness, clumsiness, motor coordination problems, tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Massage has been found to:
  • induce relaxation and deepen sleep cycles
  • treat tender points
  • restore muscle function
  • decrease body sensitivity to pain
  • relieve muscle spasms
  • increase mobility and flexibility
  • lose the mental fuzziness often referred to as “fibro fog”
  • release waste build up in the body
All of which improves the client’s quality of life.

Migraines, tension, sinus, trigeminal neuralgia (shooting pains from the trigeminal nerve (facial nerve)), and cluster headaches can be treated by:

  • decompression of the neck, facial bones, occipital area
  • release of tension in the upper back and neck
  • trigger points on the head, neck and upper back
  • ice to back of neck or forehead
  • traction of the neck
If chronic, other possible triggers include:
  • chocolate
  • dairy products
  • bananas
  • alcohol
  • sensitivities to wheat
  • caffeine

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS is a progressive inflammatory disease of the nervous system. The immune system attacks and damages myelin, a protective sheath around nerves (axons) stemming from in the brain and spinal cord. These axons conduct signals between nerves. The progressive loss of myelin seen in people with MS results in dysfunctional nerve signal conduction that worsens over time. The symptoms of multiple sclerosis include muscle spasms, weakness, visual changes, paresthesias (numbness and tingling), difficulty with bladder control, and vertigo.

Reflexology and massage have been found to:

  • improve in sensory symptoms
  • improve urinary symptoms and spasticity
  • lower anxiety and stress
  • improve sleep patterns
  • relieve pain
  • increase mobility and self-esteem
There have been few studies conducted on the use of reflexology to alleviate some of the symptoms of MS. The largest study, a randomized control trial involving 53 participants with MS, showed significant improvement in sensory symptoms, urinary symptoms and spasticity. The improvement in sensory symptoms in the reflexology recipients remained significant three months after the final treatment.

Whether or not one ascribes to Chinese traditional medical theories, reflexology results in deep relaxation and stress reduction. As such, physiological changes take place in the body that lead to a feeling of well-being during the treatment and for some amount of time after the treatment.

Excerpt: “At least 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis suffer from spasticity, a condition in which their muscles tighten uncontrollably. A doctor can treat spasticity with therapy, medication and surgery. At-home MS patients can find relief with massage, exercise and relaxation methods.” See article.

Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia of the foot, which can cause an unbalanced gait with more stress placed on the injured area usually due to postural deviations such as scoliosis. The condition may be aggravated by excess weight, overexertion, overuse, ill-fitting shoes, flat feet, and tight calf or hip muscles.

Symptoms include:

  • pain in heel and arches of the foot, usually worse after sitting for an extended period of time
  • pain with the first step out of bed in the morning
Treatments include:
  • postural rebalancing
  • lengthening the calf muscles, hip flexors and rotators, psoas (core muscle)
  • stretching exercises at home
  • step into shoes when you get out of bed to stop reinjuring the fascia
  • roll a tennis ball under your foot to massage the bottom of your foot
  • strengthen calf muscles

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
RSI is a soft-tissue injury in which muscles, nerves, or tendons become irritated or inflamed. RSI is caused by repetitive motions, excessive force, and extremes of motion. Over time, these motions can strain the soft tissues, reducing circulation. These stresses create tiny tears in the muscles and tendons, which become inflamed. In extreme cases, it can cause permanent tissue damage and disability.

Symptoms include:

  • fatigue of affected area
  • numbness
  • general aching
  • pain
Repeating the same motion over and over for a long period of time without alternating the motion or taking a break, may lead to RSI and other similar painful and debilitating conditions.

Applying therapeutic massage techniques to problem areas in conjunction with postural and lifestyle adjustments, including stretching, can help alleviate the pain associated with RSI. Using various massage techniques on isolated areas will help increase the blood flow to the injured area, restore lubrication to joint capsules, prevent scarring and restore range of motion. Manipulating these contracted muscles into a more relaxed state will also release entrapped nerves relieving numbness and tingling in the extremities. Release of trigger points (small areas of hardened tissue within a muscle that produces pain when pressure is put on them) can have an amazing effect.

True Sciatica is pain and inflammation of the sciatic nerve root at L4, L5 and sacral plexus caused by disc protrusion or herniation, adhesions, fibrositis, or degenerative joint disease.

Pseudo Sciatica is the sciatic nerve inflammation brought on by piriformis syndrome, fibromyalgia, or IT band syndrome.

Symptoms for both can include:

  • pain referring down the hip, back of leg and possibly to foot
  • intermittent or shooting pain
  • numbness
  • muscle weakness
  • foot droop or paralysis
For true sciatica I would refer you to a physician or chiropractor. For pseudo sciatica I can relieve the problem with massage in the hip and gluteal areas.

Scoliosis is the lateral curvature of the spine, which can be a birth disorder or caused by postural misalignment due to habitual use patterns or neuromuscular conditions.

Scoliosis may be related to or caused by the following: TMJ, thoracic outlet syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, quadratus lumborum (low back muscle) dysfunction, shoulder/forearm tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, sacro-iliac strain or dysfunction, headaches, or digestive problem.

Treatments for scoliosis are:

  • structural integration (restoration of the body to its natural state of alignment and balance)
  • lengthen the muscles on the concave side
  • strengthen the muscles on the chronically weakened side
  • decompress joints
Other helpful therapies include acupuncture, physical therapy, Pilates, movement therapies, eliminate food allergens.

Shin Splints
Shin splints is a chronic strain/pain of the anterior and/or posterior tibialis muscles, which can be caused by:

  • repetitive stressful movements such as running or jogging
  • a result of imbalanced posture
  • poor arch support
  • poor flexibility of anterior and posterior compartments
  • posterior tibialis tendonitis
  • hypertonic anterior compartments from overuse
Treatment of shin splints is to relieve the swelling, decrease muscle tension, prevent adhesions (and trigger points), and lymphatic drainage. Stretching before and after activities will greatly avoid shin splints.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
The thoracic outlet is the area of the shoulder/neck where the nerves (brachial plexus) and blood vessels (subclavian vessels) pass from the cervical area toward the axilla (armpit). Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a set of symptoms due to compression and/or irritation of these vessels and nerves. It can be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome, brachial plexus syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome and bursitis.

There are many possible causes for TOS, some of which include:

  • trauma such as whiplash (hyperextension)
  • other injury to the neck that results in scar tissue formation, which lead to compression
  • trauma to the shoulder
  • excessive exercise leading to shortening of the shoulder and neck muscles
  • postural changes due to pregnancy or injury
  • scalene or pectoralis minor tightness

The body under stress is in a physiological state of “fight or flight.” In other words, the system reacts as if there were imminent danger. Breathing is shallow, the heart is working overtime, and the repair and restore functions of the body are put on hold. Sleep patterns are disturbed, stress and pain are locked in an unending cycle, each making the other worse. Massage is one way to break the vicious cycle.

Massage puts the body into a “rest and digest” response that allows it to repair and renew itself, digest food, and absorb nutrients. Breathing becomes deep, heart rate slows, pain decrease, and anxiety loses its hold.

Many other chronic conditions...
... such as arthritis, bursitis, low back pain, diabetes, high blood pressure and fatigue respond well to massage.

Some of the health benefits of massage include:

  • strengthening the lymph system
  • reducing pain from injury, overuse or surgery
  • enabling restorative sleep (REM)
  • relieving muscle cramps, spasms and tension
  • increasing circulation, bringing nutrient-rich oxygen to the organs and tissues
  • releasing the body’s natural pain-killers (endorphins)
  • improving range of motion of joints
  • providing stretch and exercise for weak or withered muscles
  • lowering blood pressure
Other helpful therapies include acupuncture, physical therapy, Pilates, movement therapies, eliminate food allergens.
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