Massage has a long history as an alternative and complimentary option to medical treatments. Its health benefits have been known through the ages dating, back to Egypt, Greece, the Middle East and the Far East, in various ancient writings.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), continues to fund research on the relationship between massage therapy and various health conditions. With cancer being such a prominent disease in the world today, it is beneficial to explore and understand all the options a patient has to help them through their individual journey with cancer.
Massage therapy is an excellent resource that provides many benefits for cancer patients including:
Reducing anxiety and depression
Reducing the need for medication
Softening of scar tissue
Cancer patients have a variety of symptoms that can cause physical pain and emotional stress. These symptoms can lead to a decrease in normal body functioning, feelings of hopelessness, imbalances and a poor quality of life. Symptom relief is so important for patients in all stages of cancer, from diagnosis to treatment and recovery, making medical massage a viable alternative to taking more medication.
An NCCAM study compared the benefits of medical massage versus simple touch therapy in patients with advanced cancer. The study found that both therapies caused significant improvements in mood, quality of life and reduced emotional stress and physical pain. Therapists who practice oncology massage are educated and trained to address the unique needs of cancer patients.
Medical massage provides relief from nausea, swelling, headaches, insomnia and other side effects of cancer treatment. It also can help cancer patients manage their pain, as well as lessen anxiety, depression and other emotional side effects of living with cancer.
Four commonly used body therapies applied to cancer patients are craniosacral therapy, lymphatic drainage therapy, Reiki, and therapeutic touch. Be sure to consult with your massage therapist to discuss which therapy may be the best to use if you're currently being treated for cancer. Each therapy works in different ways, so one type may be better than another for your specific type of cancer.
Cancer affects every part of the patient’s body. Massage therapy can play an important role in helping patients manage their cancer experience. Integrative medicine is based on a caring relationship between medical professionals, holistic practitioners and patients. The result can be a safe, natural, whole body approach to healing that encourages, inspires and uplifts the patient.
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