Pathology for Massage Therapists
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Acne
Definition: Inflammation of the sebaceous gland ducts in the skin; bacterial infection.
Causes: overactive sebaceous glands secreting too much oil leads to clogging of pores; may be genetic, hormonal related, over consumption of fatty foods, junk foods, and meat, nutritional deficiencies, using cosmetics, allergies, stress, liver toxicity, toxins
Signs/Symptoms: black heads, white heads, small inflamed pustules
Indications: Massage to surrounding area, may want to avoid direct contact as it may be painful; may assist in detoxification
Contraindications:  Detoxification process may lead to more acne; some oils or lotions may clog pores of client and cause acne. Use water based lotion or no lotion or oil at all. Remove oil with alcohol or shower directly after treatment. May be on antibiotics (may cause intestinal imbalance) or retinoids (may cause joint pain and hair loss) Refer to appropriate health care provider for nutritional support and detoxification.
Links to Pictures- University Iowa Dermatology, Adam.com, Indiana University Dermatopathology

Adhesion
Definition: when myofascial structures bind together due to excess scar tissue formation
Causes: limited movement, reduced hydration, compression, impingement, trauma, improper healing
Signs/Symptoms: inflammation, atrophy, reduced ROM, pain, stiffness, shortened muscles with increased risk of injury
Indications: Massage to break up adhesions using friction, trigger point therapy, deep tissue work as tolerated, ice massage, active and passive stretching; increase flexibility and circulation
Contraindications: May have inflammation present - treat accordingly.

AIDS -see HIV/AIDS

Allergy
Definition: Hypersensitivity to an antigen causing tissue damage
Causes: May be caused by depleted  immune system, hereditary, emotional , stress (depletes cortisol levels which is needed to reduce inflammation), anger, toxicity of the body, poor diet, deficient digestive enzymes
Signs/Symptoms: nasal congestion, coughing, itching, hay fever, asthma, eczema, hives, skin rashes, shock, asphyxia
Indications: Massage is OK.  Detoxification, lymphatic drainage
Contraindications:  Check for allergies to oils, detergents, latex. Refer to appropriate health care provider.

Links-  Nambrudipad's Allergy Elimination Technique - effective for chemical sensitivities, hay fever;
 

Alzheimer's
Definition: Neurological disorder in which the cerebral neurons become dysfunctional
Causes: Possible causes include metal toxicity (aluminum), nutritional deficiencies( B vitamins, zinc, A, E and carotene)
Signs/Symptoms: progressive mental deterioration, depression, memory loss, inability to concentrate, loss of bladder and bowel control, build up of plaque in the brain
Indications: May help reduce stress; Aromatherapy for stress reduction- Chamomile, germanium, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, ylang ylang;  family members may need it more.
Contraindications:  May not be useful in later stages as mental capacities diminish: Refer to appropriate health care provider.
Links- Alzheimers.com

ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)  Lou Gherig's disease
Definition: Progressive neuromuscular disease in which the motor cells in the spinal cord degenerate leading to muscular weakness
Causes: unknown
Signs/Symptoms: stiffness, weakness and wasting of muscles of hands and feet, followed by twitches and cramps; use of muscle decreases; affects the palate, pharynx, tongue, neck and shoulders in advanced stages leading to difficulty in speech and swallowing; affects mainly men between 40-70 years old.  There is no definite test for diagnosis.  Death usually occurs within 2-10 years.
Indications:  May help reduce stress; check for other contraindications. Communication may be difficult.
Contraindications:  Get physician referral.

Links- ALS Survival Guide

Anemia
Definition: Anemia is a sign not a disease. There are many kinds and are all characterized by reduced blood red blood cell count or hemoglobin
Causes: Nutritional- diet lacking in iron, amino acids or vitamin B12.  Pernicious- insufficient production of red blood cells from an inability to produce a necessary factor.  Hemmorrhagic- from excessive bleeding.  Hemolytic- red blood cells plasma membranes rupture prematurely.  Aplastic- destruction of bone marrow from toxins, radiation, or medications
Signs/Symptoms: fatigue, unable to tolerate cold, paleness of skin, mucous membranes, gums, nail beds; shortness of breath, palpitations.
Indications: May be helpful
Contraindications: Contraindicated in advanced stages where the heart is overworked. Work with the care of a physician. Refer to appropriate health care provider.

Angina Pectoris
Definition:  Chest pain
Causes: oxygen deprivation in the heart; usually from blocked arteries, anemia, or hyperthyroidism
Signs/Symptoms: heavy, tight pain in the chest, left shoulder, arm and jaw area usually after exertion
Indications: Massage Ok;  reduce stress;  Trigger point chest area, ribs, sternum with ok of physician
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care provider.  May be on beta blockers or other medications to dilate coronary vessels.

Aneurysm
Definition: Arterial dilation caused by the pressure of blood on a section of the wall of the artery that may be thin and weak due to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis or unhealthy connective tissue.
Causes: May be due to surgical procedure, smoking, genetics, nutritional deficiency, coughing, inflammation, trauma
Sign/Symptoms: may have back pain, chest pain, coughing, or other problems in area where aneurysm is forming.
Indications: None
Contraindications: Depending on the region; Have area checked by physician, get medical clearance; avoid pressure on pulses: Refer to appropriate health care provider. Be sure to do a complete history - warning signs may be heart disease, atherosclerosis and/or high blood pressure.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
Definition: Type of rheumatic arthritis that affects the spine and sacroiliac joint
Causes: unknown, but may be viral, bacterial, fungal such as candida or genetic, auto-immune disorder
Signs/Symptoms: joints become inflamed, stiff and rigid and often calcification occurs at the articular surfaces: may affect breathing if between the ribs and spine; postural deformities often result (flexion)
Indications: Massage is OK when inflammation subacute.
Contraindications: Use caution when working around inflammation -inflammation may be in other areas. Refer to appropriate health care provider.  Acupuncture may relieve pain.

Anxiety
Definition:  Emotionally erratic or unusual behavior
Causes: Stress, food allergies, malfunction in brain chemistry, caffeine based stimulants (coffee, chocolate, sodas), blood sugar imbalances
Signs/Symptoms: panic attacks, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, nausea, hot flashes/chills, nightmares
Indications: Promote relaxation
Contraindications: For severe cases (dissociation, destructive behavior) have client consult a  psychologist or counselor, naturopath, acupuncturist or other health care provider.

Appendicitis
Definition: inflammation of the mucosal lining of the  appendix usually followed by infection
Causes: obstruction of the appendix by fecal matter, inflammation, food , carcinoma, stenosis, or kinking of the organ
Structures Involved: mucosal lining
Signs/Symptoms: pain in lower right quadrant of abdomen, lack or loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.  Pain may intensify with sneezing, coughing or with movement
Indications: None
Contraindications: Refer to physician immediately if acute.  Refer to appropriate health care provider for treatment.

Arthritis
Definintion/Causes/ Symptoms: Inflammatory joint disease; approximately 25 different types
Most common: Rheumatoid - chronic, systemic auto immune disease characterized by joint stiffness upon awakening that lasts longer than one hour, swelling in specific finger or wrist joints, movement sounds like crinkling cellophane; most painful and crippling; possible causes are nutritional deficiencies, stress, bacterial infection
Osteoarthritis - degenerative joint disease usually gradual in onset which may involve inflammation, enlargement of the joint and muscle contracture; cartilage deteriorates causing irregularities in the gliding surfaces of joints, usually affecting weight bearing joints; may be caused by previous injuries, loose joints, hormonal and nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, poor elimination
Infectious arthritis - caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infection.
Gout - high levels of uric acid crystals are deposited in the joint; usually the big toe causing swelling, redness heat and extreme pain; possibly caused by high intake of rich foods and alcohol

Indications: Massage Ok; work above area affected to increase circulation and assist in removing toxins; loosening muscles may be beneficial to osteoarthritis prevention and treatment
Contraindications: Avoid inflammation; Check medications; Steroid use may cause brittle bones and problems with internal organs. Refer to appropriate health care provider.

Links- Arthritis Society of Canada

Asthma
Definition : Muscular contraction of  the bronchial tubes of the lungs characterized by wheezing and breathing difficulty. The spasms are a result of chronic inflammation or hypersensitivity of the airways to certain stimuli such as an allergenic substance.
Causes: May be allergic reaction, may be due to lack of water, adrenal disorders, anxiety, exercise, low blood sugar, stress, possibly hereditary.
Signs/Symptoms: Bronchial tubes become filled with mucous, tightness in the chest, wheezing, coughing, difficulty exhaling, may be exercise induced
Indications:  May be induced by trigger points in the serratus posterior superior.  Also check scalenes, intercostals, serratus posterior inferior, diaphragm, psoas.  May be beneficial to open up the fascia of the thoracic region.  General relaxation for stress management.  Breathing exercises to activate nervous system.
Contraindications : Client may be taking steroids which may cause deterioration of internal organs and bones.  Refer to appropriate health care provider.

Links- Daily Lung

Astigmatism
Definition:  Imperfect refractive powers of the eye in which refraction of several meridians of the eyeball is affected, usually due to a change in the curvature of the cornea and lens; images do not focus properly on the eye.
Indications:  Massage OK; refer to eye exercises and eye relaxation.
Contraindications: None; be alert for contact lenses. Refer to Bates Vision specialist.

Athlete's Foot
Definition:  Fungal infection of the foot
Causes: Warmth and dampness of the feet; destruction of beneficial bacteria in the body may add to spread (antibiotic use)
Symptoms:  Inflammation, burning, itching, scaling, cracking, blisters
Indications:  Tea tree oil may help.
Contraindications:  May be contagious if the right environment exists:  Avoid inflammation.  Refer to appropriate health care provider.
Links to picture - University of Iowa Dermatology

Atherosclerosis/Arteriosclerosis
Definition:  Hardening of the arteries due to build up of calcium (arteriosclerosis) or fatty substances (atherosclerosis); circulation becomes impaired causing high blood pressure, chest pain, heart attack, stroke
Causes:  Smoking, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, genetics, lack of exercise, poor diet of fatty foods, obesity, stress:  The arteries are damaged by free radicals and the constant constriction that smoking causes.  The fatty substances are deposited in damaged areas, causing constriction.
Signs/Symptoms: may be in legs - aching muscles, fatigue, numbness, heavy feeling in legs, high blood pressure, aneurysms, thrombus, heart attack, arrhythmia
Indications:  Massage may assist in making lifestyle changes, reducing stress, detoxification.
Contraindications: May be on anticoagulant medications which may cause bruising during treatment; refer to appropriate health care provider;  Can be Reversed through Diet Modification and Exercise. Refer to appropriate health care provider for lifestyle changes.  Physician monitoring is recommended.

Atopic dermatitis
Definition: Inflammation of the skin: sometimes eczema is given this general title.
Causes: allergies( wheat, chemicals, dairy), poor diet ( too much sugar, white flour, fats, fried foods, processed foods), stress, chronic tension, toxic colon, hereditary
Signs/Symptoms: itching,  red skin, papules, vesicles, crust, scaling, flaking, thickening of skin usually behind the knees, elbows or on face
Indications: Poultices may be helpful ( chaparral, dandelion, yellow dock root).  Vitamin E in oil may be beneficial
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care provider.
Links to pictures- University of Iowa, Indiana University

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
Definition: disorder of the nervous system seen mostly in children but also in adults
Causes: heredity, prenatal problems, deprivation of oxygen at birth, chemical pollutants, heavy metal toxicity, artificial food additives in diet, allergies to foods such as dairy products or  wheat, blood sugar imbalances, lack of protein in diet, phosphates in sodas may cause hyperkinesis ( exaggerated muscle activity)
Signs/Symptoms:  Hyperactivity, learning disabilities, lack of concentration, difficulty solving problems, sleep disturbances, emotional instability
Indications:  Massage for stress reduction: grounding
Contraindications:  Ritalin may cause slow down in growth in bones and muscles of children: Refer to appropriate health care provider for nutritional and lifestyle changes.

Links-  Attention Deficit Disorder

Autism
Definition: Mental, physical, neurological disorder in which children withdraw from life
Causes: viruses, vaccines, food allergies (wheat, dairy), brain injury, candida overgrowth
Signs/Symptoms: socially withdrawn, unable to communicate, lack of feeling or awareness, hyperactive, low blood sugar, digestive disorders ( celiacs disease, crohn's, ulcerative colitis, anemia), malabsorption
Indications: Massage for stress reduction, release spastic muscles
Contraindications: Caution: May lack feeling or awareness so begin lightly and work gradually deeper.

Links - Allergy Induced Autism
      Center for Study of Autism
      Autism Resources
      Autism Network  for Dietary Intervention
 
 

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