Gastrointestinal disorders include more than 40 acute and chronic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, ranging from common ailments such as indigestion and flatulence (gas) to serious, life-threatening diseases, such as colorectal cancer.
Even if it is not related to a serious health condition or disease, gastrointestinal dysfunction is typically quite painful and has the capacity to interfere with daily activities and overall quality of life. Patients looking for an alternative or complement to pharmaceutical solutions may seek out the expertise of a massage therapist to effectively manage chronic digestive disorders.
Accredited massage therapy colleges teach a range of modalities that may help limit the aggravation of existing gastrointestinal conditions, alleviate painful symptoms, and relieve discomfort after diagnostic screening.
People who suffer from chronic conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colitis and Crohn’s are often challenged to achieve genuine and sustained relaxation. In addition to withstanding painful symptoms, continual worry about gastrointestinal dysfunction can result in significant anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, stress is known to trigger a range of digestive issues, and can contribute to flare-ups of more serious conditions. Administered regularly as a complementary treatment, gentle modalities like Swedish massage and Lymphatic Drainage can help limit the frequency of flare-ups, reduce painful symptoms, and lower stress levels - encouraging patients with gastrointestinal disorders to reach deeper levels of restorative relaxation. Massage college graduates use their knowledge of assessment best practises to coordinate with patients’ medical team, selecting the massage modality most appropriate for each individual case of digestive dysfunction.
Whether symptomatic of a serious disease like Crohn’s or the result of daily stressors, millions of Canadians suffer from constipation on a regular basis. In order to minimize reliance on laxatives, some people turn to a massage therapist to improve digestive performance with gentle abdominal massage.
Besides stimulating blood flow, massaging the affected area helps encourage the spontaneous movement of the digestive tract (a process called peristalsis), which helps alleviate cramping, bloating, gas, and constipation.
One of the most serious gastrointestinal diseases, colorectal cancer, is 90 percent preventable if detected early. According to Colon Cancer Canada, over 24,000 new cases were diagnosed in Canada in 2014 - and more than 9,000 patients lost their lives that same year. Screening is one of the most valuable defences against this disease, but many patients avoid colonoscopy because of potentially painful side effects following the examination.
Gentle abdominal massage has been found effective in minimizing some of these bothersome and painful side-effects, specifically bloating, flatulence, and cramping. Students who have completed massage therapy training and are ready to launch their career can share this technique with patients who seem anxious about an upcoming examination - potentially helping saves lives by encouraging early detection.
Whether the goal is prevention or the alleviation of disruptive symptoms, massage therapy is an ideal complementary approach for encouraging optimal gastrointestinal performance.
Have you treated patients with gastrointestinal conditions? Which techniques have you found most beneficial?