M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Place...of wellness Videos-on-Demand 2008
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Sat Siri Sumler, R.M.T, N.C.T.M.B.
Learn how and when to use massage and the benefits and precautions of massage for patients with cancer.
Massage therapy for cancer patients has become more common in recent years. It can help cancer patients and caregivers, feel better, both physically and emotionally. After a massage, patients may cope with side effects better. It is a way to lessen pain, anxiety and nausea. It also helps to release stress and tension.
Massage, a form of focus touch can also provide comfort and support to a loved one. Family or friends can massage a loved one who has cancer while he or she is seated in a chair, lying on a massage table or even in a hospital bed. This video will teach you when it is safe to massage a person who has cancer and how to massage correctly with gentle slow strokes.
Before starting, let's review when massage should not be used. People with certain medical conditions should not be massaged. Do not massage anyone who has a platelet count below 10,000, untreated heart problem, such as coronary artery disease or heart disease, symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in the deep veins of the arm or leg. Symptoms include pain, tenderness or swelling in the arm or leg or increased warmth in the area of the arm or leg that is painful. If you are unsure if massage is safe for your loved one, please talk with a doctor or nurse before starting.
When massaging someone undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery, it is important to use a gentle touch and light pressure. Use the palm of your hands to make slow smooth movements along the skin. There should be little or no movement of the person's skin as your hands gently glide along the body. Sometimes parts of the body should not be massaged. Do not massage legs if the person cannot get out of bed and walk around. Radiation markings or radiation treatment areas, areas with blood clots, tumors, surgical cuts, wounds and scars, areas near a medical device, such a catheter, port, ostomy or drain, the arm above an IV and arm or leg with lymphedema or at risk of lymphedema. Lymphedema is a build up of fluid in an arm or leg that leads to swelling. It can occur after surgery or radiation to the underarm, groin or abdomen. If your loved one has an infection or has been told he or she has fluid outside the lungs, only give him or her a gentle hand or foot massage. Do not massage other areas of the body.
Also, if you normally need to wear gloves, gown or mask when with your loved one, then it is important to wear these while giving a massage. Again, if you have any questions, please talk with a doctor or nurse before starting.
We're gonna begin with massaging your face and head, your neck and shoulders and your upper back.
Then we're gonna go ahead and unfasten your gown for massaging your shoulders and back.
Our head holds a lot of tension and, so, light strokes -- massaging the head is very relaxing. Almost everyone really loves it. It just feels like you're taking the stress and events of the day and just throwing it away.
Just begin the opening strokes across the face. You can gently lay your hands over the face, not pressing on the eyes, and just block out the light and give your partner some internal peace and space. You can do the same, just covering the ears for a moment, blocking out the sounds of the day.
Begin the massage at the chin, making gentle circular movements along the jaw. Spend a little extra time when you get to the large muscle in the upper jaw and then gently move up alongside the ears into the scalp. Repeat these movement three to five times.
When you're doing massage, the first time you touch an area, your partner becomes aware of how they feel; it heightens their awareness. The second stroke feels really good because you're starting to relieve some of the stress there. On the third one, your partner feels great. If you continue massaging the same area over and over, it tends to become irritated, so a good rule are three strokes. If an area needs more massage, you can come back to it later.
Beginning the side the nose under the check bones, you can massage gentle strokes. Not too much pressure in this area because it tends to be very tender. There's points center here to help digestion, and this also helps with any sinus pain or sinus congestion.
You can take the index and thumb tip and just draw, outlining the ridge of the brow, and just pulling down towards the ears -- slow gentle movements.
And massage the forehead with your thumbs, gently moving up into the scalp to draw a central line. Usually the top of the scalp is tender in the center, and you can massage also about an inch out on either side.
When you're using lotion for massage, you wanna use a lotion that's hypoallergenic and one that's a lubricant that has a nice glide. Most moisturizers are designed to soak in and so they're kind of tacky for massage, you'd have to use a lot of them, sometimes better to use nothing at all. So it's good to find a nice massage lotion, one that's designed to give you a glide when you're massaging.
Just take the lotion, create some friction in your hands, warming your hands and the lotion before you apply it. And then I'm just applying lotion to the upper back, the shoulders and the back of the neck.
I'm using just long strokes along either side of the spine, along the neck and just pulling up forward to the base of the head.
The shoulders themselves are easier to massage from the side if your partner is lying face up.
You can massage even the neck along the side, again in little circular movements, underneath the shoulder down into the shoulder blade and across the top of the shoulder as well.
To massage the upper back and upper shoulder, you can hold on to the sheet and just glide your hand underneath your partner.
People usually feel like they have more feelings in their hands and feet after massage, and that the effect lasts for one to three days.
Just repeating the same technique on the other side.
The trapezius is affected by stress. And so it's a big triangle-shaped muscle that attaches up at the base of the skull, comes down the side of the neck along the spine of the upper back and along the shoulder. So whenever anyone is having stress, they really enjoy this massage to the trapezius.
Then, again, just massaging the upper back and shoulder, long gliding movement under the body. This is nice when someone's not able to lie on their side or to sit for back massage. When you finish your massage, make sure you put the side rails up in their locked position, lower the bed to its lowest position it will go to. And there you go.
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