Massage for Condition Management

When therapeutic change is not a possibility; or when recuperation or a successful outcome cannot be anticipated, condition management and palliative care — to support the individual and ease suffering —become primary goals.


Condition management in massage therapy is used to support a client who does not have the necessary physical or emotional resources to invest in a process of therapeutic change. When change is unlikely, massage for condition management may be indicated.


Positive change requires energy and creates some stress, so it is important to involve the client in decisions about his or her treatment plan. The client may not feel that he/she has the necessary physical or emotional resources to engage in a process of therapeutic change.


The practitioner must engage in a thorough assessment of the client, along with the client and the other members of the client’s health care team to determine the likelihood of successful change, to determine whether condition management and palliative care should become the primary mode of treatment.


Clients seeking massage for condition management account for a great number of massage therapy clients. They are individuals employed in stressful jobs, dealing with chronic health conditions, and caring for elderly relatives. Many do not feel they do not have the physical, financial, or emotional means to change their situations. Massage is a viable treatment in such situations, providing both physical and emotional benefits, slowing the progression of chronic conditions, and easing muscle tension and stress, leaving the individual better able to cope with the problems of his/her life.


Massage can offer a respite from life’s cares; a way to recharge the body and mind, allowing us to approach life with renewed vitality and energy. Massage may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and/or Parkinson’s disease: Trager therapy, which utilizes the concept that an individual can relearn movement patterns and increase range of motion through the experience of stress-free, relaxed movement in
Massage and physical therapy, may be effective in reducing rigidity in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. The supportive movement of the client’s body within a pain-free range of motion may reduce the rigidity commonly experienced by individuals with Parkinson’s.


Studies also suggest that massage correlates with a reduction in levels of agitation and the prevalence of other behaviors, such as pacing and vocalizing, associated with Alzheimer’s disease.


Massage has implications for disabilities including cerebral palsy and spinal injury, as well. Clients with cerebral palsy report decreased spasm and increased relaxation and circulation not only in the areas affected, but throughout the body as a whole, while individuals with spinal injury tend to have fewer decubitus ulcers with regular massage.

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