Massage Therapy: Side Effects & Ways To Avoid The Risks

Massage therapy is a type of manual therapy done using hands, fingers, forearm, elbow, or feet. Massage Therapy is extremely beneficial in relieving pain and muscle tightness. If done properly by a qualified professional, has few serious risks and many benefits. The amount of critical injuries reported is very less. Let’s read about Side effects of Massage Therapy and how one can avoid it.

Massage Therapy and its Side Effects

Massage Therapy and its Side Effects:

  • Pain: After a massage therapy session, the person is likely to have some muscle soreness due to constant rubbing and manipulation.  Massage therapy helps relieve muscle tightness and there will be a feeling of muscle soreness in the form of mild pain.
  • Swelling: Very rare, but possibility depends on the type of massage given and any preexisting condition of the patient.
  • Temporary Discomfort: Patient undergoing massage therapy session may have some temporary discomfort in the form of mild pain during the session due to constant rubbing and manipulation which the body is not used to.
  • Bruising: There can be some slight bruising depending on the type of massage, but it will be temporary and will subside soon.
  • Allergy or sensitivity to massage oils:  Massage therapist is likely to use a wide variety of oils during massage and if the patient is allergic to any of those oils or its key ingredient then some allergic reaction like skin rashes etc.  It is important to inform the therapist in advance of such allergies so that therapist avoids using those oils.
  • Feeling of Exhaustion:  Massage therapy session can last anywhere from 30 mins to 90 mins, so with constant pulling of the finger joints, rubbing of the body muscles, patient is likely to feel a bit exhausted.
  • Urge to Urinate:  Massage therapy session helps to eliminate body toxins.  There can be an increased need to urinate which should not be concerning
  • Bowel Movements: Abdominal massage can stimulate bowel movements and flatulence.

Ways To Avoid Risks of Massage Therapy:

  • Massage should never be done in the region where there are blood clots, open or healing wounds, fractures, skin infections or weakened bones (from cancer or osteoporosis). Massage should also be avoided in the area of a recent surgery.
  • Forceful and strong massage should be avoided in patients having low blood platelet counts or bleeding disorders and in people taking blood-thinning medications like warfarin.
  • Women who are pregnant should consult with their health care provider before starting any massage therapy.
  • Massage therapy seems to be safe for cancer patients; however, patients should always consult their oncologist before starting a massage therapy, especially involving intense or deep pressure. Direct pressure over a tumor should be avoided, as it could cause more harm. Cancer patients should always discuss with their oncologist about any doubts regarding massage therapy.

Points to Bear in Mind Before Using Massage Therapy as Alternative & Complementary Medicine

  • Never use massage therapy as an alternative to your regular medical care or as an excuse to delay seeing your health care provider about any medical issue.
  • If you have doubts as to the effect of the massage therapy on your medical condition then talk over your concerns with your health care provider. Your health care provider could also guide you in selecting a massage therapist.
  • Be sure to find out about the massage therapist’s experience, training and credentials. Also inquire about the number of sessions required, their cost and insurance coverage.
  • A massage therapist may recommend using other CAM practices such as herbs or other supplements or a specific diet. Always consult with your regular health care provider before starting them.
  • Patients should always inform their health care providers if they are using any alternative and complementary practices along with details of their lifestyle and their health management. This helps in ensuring safe and coordinated care.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 7, 2018

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