Lupus Awareness Month: Massage & Lupus

There are myriad ways massage therapists can make contact with other health care professionals, and in today’s climate, these opportunities are probably only going to increase. Because there’s some substantial research showing how effective massage therapy can be for relieving pain and stress, one natural fit for massage therapists looking to make inroads in a health care environment is working with clients who suffer from diseases that involve chronic pain. When thinking about clients who need help managing chronic pain, a number of demographics come to mind.

One special population you might consider is clients with lupus.

Lupus. Ruth Herold, owner of Ruth’s Massage Therapy in Staten Island, New York, worked on a friend who had lupus, along with a few other medical conditions. In the beginning, Herold had a difficult time convincing her friend that massage therapy may be able to help with some of her more troublesome symptoms, like joint and muscle pain, and stress. “She just wasn’t comfortable with massage at first,” explains Herold. “She did like when I worked on her feet, and she could lay on her back propped up with pillows.”

Herold did what every massage therapist working with clients who are dealing with disease and in chronic pain should do: she accepted where the client was in the process. “I didn’t push her to try massage,” she says. “Rather, I waited until she asked me to help her because her neck, back and shoulders hurt.” Letting the client call the shots is particularly important here, as chronic pain often isn’t only manifested physically. These clients may have emotional responses to pain that cause them to withdraw, as well as behavioral responses that lead to differences in function and mobility. So, even if you know massage therapy can help with symptoms your client is experiencing, if they’re not ready, respect that feeling.

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Excerpted from Massage Therapy Journal (mtj), Spring 2012

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