Massage is a popular and common treatment intervention in healthcare. We use it often in sports medicine to help decrease muscle spasms, break up scar tissue and adhesions, alleviate pain and reduce edema. And research supports the effectiveness of massage when used properly.
Massage can also benefit people suffering from a wide range of ailments not associated with sports. Ashley Stafford, a Community Outreach Volunteer for TreatMesothelioma, explains some of the benefits of massage for cancer patients in an article she recently wrote for our Topic of the Month. For more information on Mesothelioma, please go to www.treatmesothelioma.org.
Why is Massage Therapy Beneficial to Mesothelioma Cancer Patients?
Massage therapy for mesothelioma cancer patients differs slightly from massage therapy that is given to people who do not have this disease. In fact, the best professionals to offer this therapy are therapist with oncology massage training. These therapists understand the effects of cancer on the patient’s body as well as the side effects of different mesothelioma treatment options like chemotherapy, surgery, medications and radiation.
Before massage therapy starts, an experienced massage therapist usually assesses the patient. It is only after this assessment that the mesothelioma specialist can ensure the patient’s well-being and safety to add massage therapy to their treatment plan.
This assessment includes consideration of the following:
- Unstable or weak tissue
- Location of cancer tumor
- If the lymph node is involved
- Prescribed medical devices
- Counts of the affected blood cells
- The experienced pain
- Blood clots risk
- Sensation loss
- Cancer treatment history
- Organ involvement
- Issues of the immune system
- Current medication
How massage therapy benefits mesothelioma cancer patients
For mesothelioma cancer patients, massage therapy is not only a pleasant indulgence, it also provides a form of healing. Mesothelioma patients receive a slightly more specific type of massage which is known as oncology massage therapy. This entails modification of existing massage techniques so that they can work safely with cancer treatment and the involved complications. Basically, the techniques that are used to provide massage therapy to mesothelioma cancer patients are based on the thorough assessment mentioned earlier as every patient is different.
Here are the three types of massage therapies that can be beneficial to mesothelioma cancer patients:
- Therapeutic massage: This is also called relaxation or Swedish massage. It promotes a well-being sense and relaxation which enhance the effectiveness of other mesothelioma treatment options.
- Remedial massage: This helps in healing soft tissues after treatments like surgery.
- Lymphatic drainage massage: This massage therapy relaxes the patient’s nervous system while enhancing efficient functioning of the immune system.
Generally, massage therapy benefits mesothelioma cancer patients by making them feel calm and relaxed. It also lessens muscle tension while stimulating the lymphatic system. Massage therapy is also effective in reducing depression and anxiety while improving circulation of nutrients-rich blood in the body. This enhances tissue regeneration which is particularly important because it decreases pain while expediting recovery.
Alternative pain management
As a palliative treatment, massage therapy can be part of the alternative pain management or treatment plant. Thus, it can eliminate or reduce the need for prescription pain killers. Additionally, when massage therapy is administered properly, it can remove toxins that may have accumulated in the body of the patient as the mesothelioma cancer progresses. This makes the body more receptive to other treatments as well.
Unlike other types of therapies, massage therapy is one of the few that can be administered to mesothelioma cancer patients during most treatment phases. This includes after the initial diagnosis, during their first stay in the hospital and throughout the recovery process. Massage therapy can also be administered when most standard treatments fail. In fact, studies have shown that massage therapy helps in alleviating the side effects of conventional treatments such as nausea. It has also been quite effective in improving sleep patterns, lessening fatigue and making the entire environment of the patient a lot less stressful.
It is these benefits that make doctors recognize how important this complementary therapy for mesothelioma really is.