How Does This All Work – Part 2

Posted on June 14, 2016 By

How Does This All Work Part 2 – The Medical History Form

Quick Review of Part 1:

  1. Schedule ahead of time – same day appointments are rare.
  2. Block off enough time in your own schedule for the whole event.
  3. KEEP your appointment – or give at least 24 hour notice of cancellation.
  4. Arrive on time (or a little bit early).
  5. Arrive clean (check those feet!)

Your first visit – what to expect and why.

When you arrive for your first visit with a new-to-you therapist (or at a new-to-you clinic), you should be asked to fill out a health history form.  If you’re not, you might want to ask why not!  Massage therapy is health care.  Even if you’re just going for a relaxing, zone out session, you are inviting someone to work with your body; it just makes sense to let them know what your body’s condition is.  When  you come back another time, your therapist will rely on the information on that form.

Why do I have to fill out a health history form??

And why do you care about surgeries and injuries from ten years ago??

 For your safety!

  1.  There are a number of medical conditions for which certain types of massage are contraindications (that means that you shouldn’t get that type of massage), or for which adaptations must be made for your safety.
    • If you have congestive heart failure, you should have clearance from your doctor before you get Swedish massage or any other type of massage that may increase your blood flow.
    • If you have certain kidney diseases, massage that increases blood and lymph flow could put an unsafe burden on your kidneys.
    • If you have a pacemaker, there are certain adaptations that your therapist must make.
    • If you are pregnant, there are adaptations that must be made, especially in later months, to keep your circulation moving, and do avoid undue pressure on the baby.
    • If you have high-blood pressure, your massage therapist needs to be aware.  Even when your hypertension is controlled by medication, you are more likely to get dizzy when getting up from the table.
    • There are many more – which is why your massage therapist took an entire semester on pathology as it relates to massage.
  2. There are a number of medical conditions for which certain types of massage are locally contraindicated (that means that you can get a massage as long as the therapist doesn’t touch specific areas).
    • If you have ring worm or other fungal skin infection, your massage therapist must be careful not to touch it  (lest it spread on your body).
    • If you have poison ivy, or other contact dermatitis response, massage will just spread the problem.  The therapist can massage the rest of you, but not where your skin is affected.
    • If you have a recently sprained or broken limb, the massage therapist should not work with it until the initial inflammation has gone down.
    • If you have pitting edema (swollen limbs, which, when you push against the skin doesn’t bounce back right away), the massage therapist should only work above that area. Pitting edema can be a sign of other serious medical conditions, so your therapist may ask for a doctor’s note before you can return.
    • Again, there are many others.
  3. There are a number of prescription and over the counter medications that require your therapist to change his or her approach.
    • If you are taking a pain killer of any kind, be sure to let your therapist know!  When you’re on pain killers, even tylenol, your ability to discern when something is hurting you is diminished.
    • If you are taking a muscle relaxant, you should let your therapist know.  The drug will change the way muscle tissue responds.
    • If you are taking medication for mental health issues, you may react differently to stimulus.  The therapist needs to know so that he or she will know what to watch for.

For your comfort.

  1.  If you have a sinus infection, you will be much more comfortable if you spend more of your time supine (lying on your back) than lying prone with your head in a face cradle that puts pressure on your sinuses.
  2. If you suffer from migraines, you may be more comfortable with dimmer lights and quieter or even no music.
  3. If you have chronic low back pain, your therapist may be able to add bolsters to ease pressure on the back while working to also ease the muscles that are causing it.
  4. If you have steel rods, pins, screws, or plates, the massage therapist should know so that he or she adapts the pressure around them.

For the therapists’ safety.

  1.  If you have an infectious illness or disease, you should not receive massage.  You risk infecting the therapist, and in fact any clients he or she sees later in the day.
  2. If you have a mildly infectious disease, that is only transmissible in certain ways, your therapist can take appropriate precautions, and avoid the risk of being infected or infecting others.
  3. If you suffer from PTSD but don’t tell the therapist, he or she may do something that triggers a strong response without knowing it.  On the other hand, if you explain that you suffer from it, and what triggers you, your therapist can work in ways that are safer for both of you.
  4. Again, there are others.

To improve your treatment outcome.

  1. Even old injuries leave traces in your musculature.  If you sprained your ankle four years ago, you probably limped.  You changed your gate to favor the injured ankle, and in so doing worked the other side of your body more.  Its probable that you never actually restored your gate 100%, which means that one side of your body is still working harder.  If your therapist knows this, he or she will know where to look to find the imbalance and help treat it.
  2. Old surgeries also leave traces.  Scar tissue decreases the ability of nearby tissues to move. Not a lot, but enough to note.  If your therapist knows about your surgeries, he or she may be able to ease some of the long held adhesions and restrictions to give you fuller range of motion.
  3. If you don’t answer all the questions on your form, your therapist won’t have information he or she needs to plan an effective course of treatment for you.
  4. Again, there are many other examples.

But what about my privacy??

An excellent question!  I’ll address that in the next installment!

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