Pathology for Massage Therapists


Raynaud's disease
Definition: circulatory disease in the hands and feet with sensitivity to cold
Causes: stress, side effect of some drugs, muscle tightness and compression syndromes
Signs/Symptoms: fingers deprived of oxygen turn blue or white, damage may occur to nails
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and relieve any compressed areas
Contraindications: Gangrene may occur in extreme cases; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.
Web resources: Raynaud's foundation
Wayne State University

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Definition: Sympathetic Nervous System Disorder
Causes: Trauma, injury, stress
Signs/Symptoms: burning pain, swelling, osteoporsis, skin changes, muscle spasm, joint tenderness, vasoconstriction and dilation, usually in hand or foot but can be other places, may lead to weakness and atrophy
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and relieve spasms. Check postural alignment.
Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner
Links- Reflex Sympathetic dystrophy Syndrome Association
        UW Orthopedic Physicians

Repetitive Stress Syndrome
Defintion: a combination of conditions which include tendonitis, tenosynovitis, neuralgia, and neuritis
Causes: overuse, poor nutrition, stress
Signs/Symptoms: burning pain, tingling, increased pain with movement, numbness, swelling, inflammation, weakness, reduced mobility, reduced motor ability
Indications: Get clear diagnosis. Reduce inflammation, reduce adhesions, reduce joint stiffness and pain, minimize atrophy
Contraindications: Check for steroid medications

Restless Leg Syndrome
Definition: uncontrollable urge to move legs usually occurring at night
Causes: Unknown; possible causes are drug reaction, brain chemistry imbalance, iron deficiency, pregnancy, neuropathy, improper diet, lack of exercise
Signs/Symptoms: nocturnal leg cramping, muscle tightness, urge to move due to uncomfortable sensations, symptoms may worsen with relaxation, burning feet, fibromyalgia, sleep problems
Indications: Massage to relieve tightness in legs, triggerpoint therapy, stretching program
Contraindications: Relaxation may worsen condition in some cases. Refer to appropriate health care practitioner for nutritional support and treatment. Possible medications for treatment include sinemet, valium, percodan, percocet.
Links -

Rheumatoid Arthritis - see arthritis

Definition: fungal infection of the skin
Causes: fungus
Signs/Symptoms: scaly, crusty cracking of the skin
Indications: do not use oil or lotion as fungus thrive in moist areas
Contraindications: No oil or lotion; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner

Definition: chronic skin disorder of the forehead, face and chin
Causes: unknown; may be related to alcohol consumption, poor digestion, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, stress
Signs/Symptoms: capillaries become dilated causing blotchy areas with pimples, skin may be sensitive to touch
Indications: Massage for stress reduction and removal of toxins and to stimulate digestion
Contraindications: None; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

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