Around 2 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the US in the coming year. The good news is that nearly two-thirds of those will survive with a proper procedure. Traditional treatments like massage therapy for cancer patients have had great success in diminishing the side effects of cancer.
So how can the approach work? This comprehensive guide will give you insight into massage therapy and its benefits for those battling cancer.
Massage therapy in a nutshell
Massage is a technique that applies pressure to certain parts of the body by pressing, stroking, tapping, and kneading. Depending on the condition of each individual, it may concentrate on the soft tissues, muscles, and acupuncture points to relax you mentally and physically.
Massage techniques can range from being gentle to vigorous and brisk. Sometimes, it’s even a bit painful and uncomfortable. There are several types of massage therapy, including:
- Swedish massage: the most common type of full body massage
- Hot stone massage: hot stones are used instead of bare hands
- Aromatherapy massage: massage therapy with essential oils
- Deep tissue massage: used for chronic, deep muscular problems
- Trigger point massage: focus on the areas of tightness in the muscle tissues to reduce pain.
- Sports massage – used before or after sport or to help ease sports injuries
- Reflexology: focuses on pressure points in your hands, feet, and ears.
- Shiatsu – uses acupressure and stretching
- Thai massage: more active than most of the other forms, in which the therapist stretches your body instead of providing a massage
- Prenatal massage: gentle pressure, an ideal option for pregnant women
- Chair massage: suitable if you wish to have a quick massage, recommended for starters
- Neuromuscular massage: helpful in balancing the nervous system and the muscles
Why is it beneficial to apply massage therapy for cancer patients?
There’re many studies indicating notable benefits of massage therapy in integrative care plans. From alleviating stress to helping patients better cope with and handle side effects of cancer treatment, massage can make a crucial difference for those battling cancer.
- Massage helps reduce pain and relieve stress.
Massage boosts the body’s production of endorphins. As a compound to encourage relaxation, endorphins can help relieve stress and the level of pain, tense muscles, loosen aching and swelling as well.
- Improve mood and quality of life.
It is commonly seen that cancer patients can suffer from increased anxiety and potential depression after having their diagnosis and during the treatment. That’s when massage comes in and saves the day. Regular sessions of massage can help to reduce anxiety, stress, thus improving the patients’ overall mood. It gives affected people time to relax and think about positive things in life. That’s the key to get rid of bad feelings during a tough time.
- Enhance sleep patterns.
This upside point is deducted from the below points. Thanks to massage, cancer patients are in less pain and stress during the day. As a result, they will have better sleep quality at night. At the same time, this type of CAM treatment also helps to relieve the splitting headache, making you sleep more soundly.
How to have massage therapy for cancer patients
Here at Iris Cancer Partnership, you can embrace the benefits of massage treatment with the detailed instruction from our therapists. We’re proud to back by a team of insightful and caring experts to give you the best of services.
On your first visit, our therapist will ask you some general questions to have a brief overview of your health, lifestyles, and medical history if yes. A conversation with your caregiver/ personal general practitioner is essential. This aims to ensure that the massage session does not conflict with any medicine you’re taking.
Then, if there’s no problem, you’ll get a whole-body treatment while enjoying some music and have deep conversations with your therapist. The amount of pressure he applies when massaging you can vary greatly depending on your condition. Most people do not experience any side effects during the whole process. But you should let him know if you feel uncomfortable at some point.
Notes when having massage therapy
People with cancer should avoid getting a very deep massage, instead, switch to gentler types. If you’re already too weak or have severe bond fractures, it’s recommended not to take the CAM treatment.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, apply a soft massage type and consult your general practitioner in advance. You should avoid general massage therapy to your legs or arms if they are swollen due to lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is a build-up of fluid happening when the lymphatic system does not drain properly. This might be a result of surgery to remove the lymph nodes or the lymph nodes being damaged
Finally, some people might worry that having a massage when you’re suffering from cancer can make the cancer cells travel to other parts of the body. But there’s no evidence proving this to be true. So, no worry about applying for massage therapy if you consult your GP beforehand.