With so many women undergoing a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, massage therapists are well advised to learn about the hands-on care that can help these potential patients, especially related to specific conditions they may present with.
The five most common symptoms that can emerge in association with cancer and its treatment are:
Massage can reduce muscle stiffness and soreness by softening muscles and connective tissues that may be tight and uncomfortable. It can provide a distracting experience that can help steer thoughts away from pain. Massage also offers chemical-free relief and can reduce the need for pain medicine in some cases.
It stimulates nerve endings in the skin, releasing feel good hormones (endorphins) and blocking the stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline).
It can boost immune function. Studies have shown an increase in white blood cells (natural killer cells) with massage which can help boost the immune system.
Can help with sleep problems by improving sleep quality and promoting relaxation.
Massage increases feelings of relaxation and well being. Massage can provide the basic human needs of nurturing, caring and informed touch during a time when many cancer patients can feel isolated and dehumanized.
A gentle, noninvasive therapy such as lymph drainage massage is an appropriate fit for the typical profile of a breast cancer patient and their unique long-term symptoms.
Lymphatic drainage is designed to deal with swelling and helps to reduce pain.
Lymphedema is often the most dreaded complication of breast cancer treatment, along with pain and loss of range of motion. In addition, physical therapists and nurses are not trained in lymphatic drainage.
A massage therapist trained in lymphatic drainage is a valuable part of a cancer patient’s health care team.
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