Massage therapy - How Safe?

Posted by M ws On Monday, January 28, 2013 1 comments
Some of you would well be aware of the spinal injury I suffered in 2002 and my journey to recovery. I remember going to all the famous massage therapists/sinsehs/acupuncture experts and how my neurosurgeon, orthopaedic surgeon and chiropractor treating me emphasized that I was not allowed to have any form of massage on or around the injuries - which they said would aggravate the injuries.

Since then, I have had only four massage therapy sessions and a few Malay traditional urut sessions by a very experienced third generation therapist.

Recently, a friend recommended a massage therapy home service whereby the masseur would be dropped at my home for a two-hour session. After making the appointment, I had misgivings for hours and wanted to cancel it but went ahead with it hoping to unwind and to relax. Sadly, my medical advisors were correct and I had obviously forgotten the pain I suffered in the past after going through massage sessions.

There is nothing wrong with the masseur. She is good and well-trained. It is me.

So, for the past eight days, I have been in pain, especially from my old injuries and now, in other areas as well. I have been using Michael's Medirub from Australia and on muscle relaxants/pain killers.

It is painful to sit or walk and this time, my right arm and shoulders are in pain, tensed and numb. I have extreme difficulty in typing or doing housework but I remain positive and believe I will get well in time.

As such, I have been doing lots of research on massage therapy and discovered a couple of articles, forums and reader responses that put me off massage forever.

According to Paul Ingraham:

Massage is not a detoxification treatment in any sense, contrary to a popular belief. Ironically, it’s the opposite: post-massage soreness and malaise (PMSM) is probably caused by mild rhabdomyolysis (“rhabdo”). True rhabdo is a medical emergency in which the kidneys are poisoned by myoglobin from muscle crush injuries.

But many physical and metabolic stresses cause milder rhabdo-like states — even just intense exercise, and probably massage as well. This is substantiated by a case study of acute rhabdomyolsis caused by intense massage (see Lai), by many well-documented cases of exertional or “white collar” rhabdo, and by the strong similarity between PMSM and ordinary exercise soreness.

A rhabdo cocktail of waste metabolites and by-products of tissue damage is probably why we feel a bit cruddy after biological stresses and traumas — even massage, sometimes. And you can’t “flush” the rhabdo away with massage or drinking a little extra water. PMSM is just an unavoidable mild side effect of strong massage.


If you have pain from injuries, I would encourage you to read this ebook on Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain Syndrome.

Think carefully and consult your physician before undergoing massage or any form of therapy. Take care and God bless you!

1 comments to Massage therapy - How Safe?

  1. says:

    Anonymous You should take their advices.

    Best regards,
    seattle chiropractors

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