OVCMT massage therapy grads may provide relief to patients with Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects about one in every thousand Canadians. It affects the immune system, and causes disease-fighting white blood cells to attack healthy cells instead of bacteria. As a result, patients can experience a variety of symptoms, such as:
In addition, when lupus affects certain organs like the heart or brain, patients can experience more severe symptoms like increased risk of a heart attack, confusion, behaviour changes, and seizures.
While there is no cure for lupus, many patients can lead normal, healthy lives. They can reduce symptoms with certain medications and treatments, and can use massage therapy as a complementary treatment to help with pain and stiffness, as well as depression which can sometimes affect patients who feel overwhelmed by their condition.
Lupus is often called the 'disease with a thousand faces' because symptoms and severity can be very different from patient to patient. The most common types of lupus are:
Pain and stiffness are common symptoms of lupus. In fact, approximately 90% of patients with lupus experience some kind of swelling as well as muscle and joint pain.
Light forms of Swedish massage, trigger point massage and myofascial release – important hallmarks of any massage therapist education – can help patients relieve muscle tension and have decreased pain.
Massage therapy releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, as well as decreases stress-hormone levels that are triggered by muscle pain, providing relief for patients who have lupus.
Many patients who are diagnosed with lupus also develop depression or anxiety. They might feel overwhelmed by their condition or stressed about recurring pain and other symptoms. As a result, they might feel withdrawn or otherwise have difficulty enjoying life to the fullest.
Professionals with a massage therapist diploma can provide added comfort to these patients through the treatment of massage. As a complementary treatment used alongside medications and therapy, massage can boost oxytocin levels, which can trigger feelings of comfort and connection.
Students learn how to effectively communicate with patients during their therapeutic massage training. They use that caring approach during all sessions, adapting treatments as required to each patient's unique situation.
When treating patients with lupus, this ability to communicate with and respond to patient needs is especially important. Patients with lupus can have difficulty getting on and off the massage table due to their stiffness and limited range of motion. As a result, massage therapists may have to adapt their treatments by completing massages with the patient sitting in a chair.
Communicating with lupus patients about their condition is also important for massage therapists, as there may be instances when additional caution is advised. For example, in rare cases patients who suffer from cutaneous lupus may suffer bleeding beneath the skin or visible bruising as a result of overly vigorous treatments. It is also recommended to communicate with these patients throughout the treatment to ensure they aren't experiencing too much pressure from a massage. Lupus patients generally benefit most from light massages rather than deep tissue massage.
Massage therapy has been found to encourage bodily circulation and improve systemic function of the liver and kidneys while alleviating tension and pain, allowing patients to manage their condition more effectively.
Interested in helping patients through massage therapy? Visit OVCMT to learn about our program and how massage therapy helps patients lead healthier lives.