Massage + Medication

There are common conditions that can sometimes require massage therapists to alter their treatment plans—either because of the symptoms of the condition or because of side effects of the medications. Brent A. Bauer, MD, FACP, Director, Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic, says there are precautions all massage therapists should take when starting a treatment program—especially if the client is taking medications. According to Bauer, “one common medication that may require treatment alterations is anticoagulant medications [blood thinners] like Warfarin because they may make your clients more prone to bruising and internal bleeding.”

John S. Stracks, MD, family medicine physician at Northwestern Medicine Osher Center for Integrative Medicine in Chicago, says, “The massage therapists who work with my practice say they are always careful when giving deep tissue massage to someone on narcotic pain relievers.” This is because their pain perception may be altered and there is risk for overtreatment. But there are many medications that can cause side effects that massage therapists need to be aware of.

Following, you’ll find information on some common diseases that require medication, as well as some of the side effects and how a massage therapy session may need to change to accommodate clients taking medication.


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AMTA's award-winning Massage Therapy Journal (mtj) is your source for cutting edge information designed to strengthen your practice. Browse articles on massage and medication, hip replacements, ethics and more.



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