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Massage Therapy for Mesothelioma Patients

Massage therapy is a part of alternative medicine, but a strategy that more and more people are relying on as a supplement to traditional medicine. Mesothelioma patients can get many of the overall benefits of massage, like relaxation and reduced pain, as well as some that are specific to cancer patients. Oncology massage is a specialized field of massage therapy, conducted by trained professionals who know how to adapt massage to meet the needs of individual patients. While there are some risks associated with it, oncology massage is an overwhelmingly positive experience for people living with mesothelioma.

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Massage Therapy

Massage is more than just a rub down; in the medical field it is a type of therapy and is often included under the heading of complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM. Massage is performed by trained and licensed therapists, and while some people use it mostly just to feel relaxed, a lot of people turn to massage therapy for real health benefits.

Massage therapy is the rubbing, manipulating, and pressing of skin, muscles, ligaments, and tendons to produce certain results, such as less pain or reduced stress. There are many different types of massage and some practitioners may focus on just one or be expert in several. Some are more generalized, like Swedish massage, while others are focused on a specific purpose, like sports massage to prevent or treat athletic injuries. Massage therapy can also range from deep to light and can be tailored to an individual’s needs.

Oncology Massage

Oncology massage is a specialized type of massage therapy that is tailored to the needs of cancer patients, including mesothelioma patients. A therapist trained in oncology massage understands the special needs of these patients, how cancer affects the body, and what the side effects of cancer treatment are. They also understand how to adapt more standard massage therapy techniques to accommodate the needs of cancer patients.

An oncology massage therapist needs to find out a lot more information about a patient than they would for a client that does not have cancer. The first meeting with an oncology massage therapist should include questions about the type of cancer, the site of the tumor and any metastases, treatment history, any areas of fragile tissues, the full range of symptoms the patient is experiencing, and many other factors that will determine how they approach the massage therapy.

General Health Benefits of Massage

Most people who have ever worked with a massage therapist know what some of the benefits. There is also research to back up what most people experience. Studies have shown that massage therapy can reduce anxiety, relieve certain kinds of pain, like headaches, reduce stress, improve the condition of digestive disorders, help injuries heal faster, and generally provide a sense of relaxation and well-being. There is even some evidence from research that massage can improve the functioning of the immune function.

How Oncology Massage Helps Patients

The strongest evidence from research into massage therapy for cancer patients supports the idea that it can reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Multiple studies have found a clear connection between massage and a reduction in these negative emotions. For someone with mesothelioma, stress and anxiety can become a way of life. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can cause anxiety, before and after, and massage helps relax patients anxious about treatment. Massage also will decrease anxiety and stress generally associated with living with a terminal illness like mesothelioma.

Massage therapy also helps patients recover better and cope better with the side effects of treatment. It can reduce post-surgery pain, reduce fatigue associated with chemotherapy, and can help improve mobility after having a surgical procedure, or in general. Massage can even help cancer patients recover more quickly from the general anesthesia used for surgery.

A better overall quality of life is one of the most important benefits of oncology massage. To live with mesothelioma and all the physical, mental, and emotional effects of it can take a big toll on enjoyment of life. Massage can help patients feel better, improve their mood, improve sleep, reduce the severity of physical symptoms, relax, and generally feel less stressed and overwhelmed.

Precautions

While there are clear benefits to using oncology massage for patients with cancer, there are also some limitations. Patients with cancer are at a greater risk of experiencing adverse events from massage. These could include bleeding by bruising or even internal hemorrhaging or bleeding through wounds, infections, increased pain, and bone fractures.

There are ways to mitigate these risks by modifying the massage. This is the purpose of oncology massage, and a trained therapist may use lighter pressure and less force, may avoid deep tissue massage, will avoid any wounds, and will become aware of an individual’s areas of pain, sensitivity, and other weaknesses to provide a safe experience. This is why it is important for a mesothelioma patient to work with a licensed massage therapist who has worked with cancer patients before and understand oncology massage.

It is also important to include your medical team in all your treatment decisions. While you may think that massage is a good idea, your doctor or oncologist may have some very good reasons why it might not be the right time for you to try it. Your medical team can also recommend a trained professional in oncology massage and may even have someone they already work with to help their patients.

Massage therapy is a beneficial alternative health strategy that can easily be combined with traditional medicine to provide a better overall experience for patients. Mesothelioma and other cancer patients can especially benefit from specialized, oncology massage for relief from stress, anxiety, pain, and other symptoms of living with cancer and its treatments.

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