Common Injuries Suffered by Massage Therapists

Common Injuries Suffered by Massage Therapists

This is Part One of the Common Injuries Suffered by Massage Therapists!

Massage Therapy unquestionably incorporates whole-body strength and movement, but the hands and wrists are perhaps the stars of the show. So preventing injury is crucial to career longevity—your ability to do your job effectively for as long as you choose.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

CTS has become a catch-all term that is too often applied to any pain syndrome anywhere in the wrist area. Many other injuries can cause symptoms at the wrist.

CTS, however, has quite a specific definition: it is impingement of the median nerve at the carpal tunnel.

When there is ongoing pressure on the median nerve within the rigid, fixed space of the carpal tunnel, located between the carpal bones and the transverse carpal ligament of the wrist. This pressure, which can have several causes, cuts down on the volume of nerve impulses
traveling through the nerve to and from the hand. Mechanical stress on the nerve can damage the nerve tissue and can be a result of keeping the wrist in flexion for a sustained time or placing the wrist against an object like a desk for sustained periods.

Symptoms of CTS:
Pain felt in the palmar aspect of the wrist radiating into the hand, particularly the palm, the thumb, index finger, third finger, and adjoining half of the ring finger paresthesias can be experienced along the same nerve path.

CTS tends to come on slowly and can be triggered by a sudden increase in workload or decrease in the time allowed between massages.

Treatment:
physiotherapy
splints
anti-inflammatory medication
surgery

Saddle Joint Injury

The thumb’s basal, or CMC, the joint is saddle-shaped, formed by the trapezium in the wrist and the metacarpal in the thumb.

This distinctive shape enables the thumb to rotate up, down and across the palm, and to pinch.

Saddle joint injury can present with throbbing pain or a dull ache.

Treatment:
Rest.
Anti-inflammatory medications, both topically and orally.
Splinting may also be recommended.

These injuries are most often caused by overuse. Thus, prevention is a crucial factor in career longevity.

Prevention
Proper alignment of the wrists (120 degrees)
Hands and thumbs. When possible, use forearms, and elbows
Table Height (this is why I LOVE my Hydraulic/ Electric Table)!
Engage core
Warm-up before sessions
Rest between sessions
Stretch and strengthen throughout the day
Self-care (get a Massage, see a Chiropractor, Physiotherapy, Yoga).

What are your best recovery, or prevention, strategies?
Let us know in the comment section below!

Have an Awesome Day!
Shaunna

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Massage Therapist- Common Injuries

Massage Therapist- Common Injuries

Welcome to Part Two of Common Injuries suffered by Massage Therapists.

Bicipital Tendonitis

Biceps tendonitis is inflammation of the long head of the biceps tendon. In its early stages, the tendon becomes red and swollen. As tendonitis develops, the tendon sheath (covering) can thicken. The cord itself often thickens or grows larger.

In these late stages, the Biceps Tendon is often dark red in color due to the inflammation. Occasionally, the damage to the tendon can result in a tendon tear, and then deformity of the arm (a “Popeye” bulge in the upper arm).

Cause

In most cases, damage to the biceps tendon is due to a lifetime of normal activities. As we age, our tendons slowly weaken with everyday wear and tear. This degeneration can be worsened by overuse — repeating the same shoulder motions again and again.

Many jobs and routine chores can cause overuse damage. Sports activities — particularly those that require repetitive overhead motion, such as swimming, tennis, and baseball — can also put people at risk for biceps tendinitis.

A repetitive overhead motion may play a part in other shoulder problems that occur with biceps tendinitis. Rotator cuff tears, osteoarthritis, and chronic shoulder instability are often caused by overuse, repetitive motion.

Symptoms

· Pain or tenderness in the front of the shoulder, which worsens with overhead lifting or activity
· Pain or achiness that moves down the upper arm bone
· An occasional snapping sound or sensation in the shoulder

Rotator Cuff Injury

When the rotator cuff is damaged, a variety of issues arise:
Pain and spasm limit the range of motion of the shoulder.

The muscles do not make the small adjustments within the joint to allow the humeral head to move smoothly.

Fluid accumulation within the joint due to inflammation limits movement.

There can be an impingement on the rotator cuff muscles or the tendons that attach them to the bones. The tendons run through narrow bony spaces, and if there is a change in how the humerus and scapula move, these spaces can become even narrower. Arthritis and calcium deposits that form over time limit range of motion. These calcifications may occur along the bony edges of the joint or within the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. Chronic rotator cuff tears are typically found among people in occupations or sports requiring excessive overhead activity (examples, painters, baseball pitchers, tennis players). The constant injuries may be a result of a previous acute injury that has caused a structural problem within the shoulder and affected the rotator cuff anatomy or function (for example, bone spurs that impinge upon a muscle or tendon, inducing inflammation). Repetitive trauma to the muscle by everyday movement of the shoulder. A chronic tear may lead to degenerative changes to the tendon, leading to worsening pain, decreased range of motion, and reduced function.

Treatments:

Rest. The first step toward recovery is to avoid activities that cause pain. The use of a sling may be appropriate.

Ice. Apply cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, to keep swelling down. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Ibuprofen and
Naproxen reduces pain and swelling.

Physical therapy. Specific stretching and strengthening exercises can help restore range of motion and strengthen your shoulder.

 

 

Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists

Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists

Most Massage Therapists will experience some kind of injury or pain syndrome at some point in their careers.

So how do you protect yourself from injury?

Get in shape: plan on working out at least three times a week, including strengthening, stretching, and aerobics. Maintaining good circulation will help you heal any incipient injuries and keep them from developing into more serious ones.

• Develop proper body mechanics: using your body efficiently to produce the most effective movement with the least effort will reduce the strain of your massage work on your body.

• Avoid other hand-intensive activities: there is only so much hand-intensive work one body can take. Playing an instrument professionally, or working as a computer typist in addition to your massage work will likely cause injury.

• Take care of your hands every day: they are the tools of your trade; treat them well. Avoid opening stuck jars, playing sports with your hands, hammering nails – anything that can cause trauma or stress your hands.

• Work with your body characteristics, not against them: if you have hypermobile thumbs, do not use them extensively in your massages. If you have a pre-existing upper extremity, back or neck injury, think about doing types of massage that don’t require strength or pressure.

• Vary your massage technique: use different parts of your hand and arms to do massage, to avoid a repetitive motion to any one region. For example, use your elbow sometimes to create pressure rather than always using your thumbs.

• Don’t do massage techniques that cause you pain: stop doing any method that causes you pain or discomfort – you have your choice of thousands of techniques that you can do without pain.

• Monitor your work habits. Maintain a regular schedule of massages, so you don’t suddenly increase the number of massages you do or decrease the amount of time you have between massages.

Experiment with table height until you find what works best
for you; better yet, get an electric table that you can adjust as you work.

• Take time between massages. If you don’t have enough time between massages to relax, stretch, breathe AND change the sheets, you are putting yourself at risk of injury.

• Use other modalities in your massages. Hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, energy balancing, and spa treatments can attract new clients, and add to the value of your massages. This will also cut down on the amount of intensive hands-on work you do in each massage, which will allow your hands to rest.

• Develop a realistic attitude towards your work: there are limits to what you can do for your patients. You are only human, with your own strengths and limitations.
Respecting your own limits is healthy, and will help you keep your upper extremities healthy.

• Treat injuries immediately and effectively. At the first sign of pain or dysfunction, see a physician. If you are in pain, you are probably already injured. Letting it go on will only make it worse. Injury is a complex subject.

Common Injuries Sustained by Massage Therapists

Soft tissue injuries common to massage therapists fall into two categories:
Muscle/tendon injuries and
Nerve impingement injuries.

The primary cause of these disorders is thought to be overuse or using a part of the body beyond the point where it can function normally and remain healthy. These injuries are collectively referred to as repetitive strain or stress injuries (RSIs), cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), or simply overuse syndromes.

Left untreated or allowed to become chronic, these injuries can lead to osteoarthritis, and temporary or even permanent disability and the loss of function of the hands and/or arms.

The most common muscle/tendon injury among massage therapists is RSI.

The most common injury sites are the thumb, the wrist, and the forearm. This chronic injury is characterized by a gradual onset.

The appearance of symptoms often occurs with a sudden and/or substantial increase in workload or a sudden decrease in time spent
between massages.

The primary symptom of overuse syndrome is diffuse achiness, tightness, and, or soreness in one part of the upper extremity rather than a sharp pain in one specific spot.

Other symptoms include loss of function and paraesthesia.

Tendinitis and Tenosynovitis are inflammatory conditions (of the tendon and tendon sheath, respectively) that have a more sudden onset. These injuries are caused by tearing (strain) of tendon fibers or irritation to the tendon sheath.

The clear presence of inflammation distinguishes these injuries from RSI. Among massage therapists, tendinitis and tenosynovitis are less frequent complaints than overuse syndrome.

The main symptom is localized pain. The affected area is often swollen and hot. With proper treatment and careful avoidance of reinjury, tendinitis and tenosynovitis tend to heal in a shorter period than overuse syndrome.

Muscle/tendon injury as a result of doing massage is more common among massage therapists than nerve impingement injury. The two most common nerve impingement injuries sustained by massage practitioners are carpal tunnel syndrome.

TOS refers to the impingement of nerves C8-T1 at the area of the base
of the neck, where the brachial plexus descends through the space between the first rib and the clavicle.

Massaging in unnatural postures or with unaligned joints is often the cause of CTS or TOS. Like repetitive strain (RSI), these injuries tend to develop slowly and can be triggered by a sudden increase in workload or decrease in time between massages.