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November 7, 2006

When There Is Not Full Disclosure

I had a client come to see me with neck complaints. They had reduced range of motion and chronic pain. I used heat and gentle deep tissue to address the problem. They left my office amazed at how much more range of motion they had and how much better they felt. I figured when they left I had another satisfied customer.

Five days later they called to inform me that their neck had swollen up, was painful, and was only just going back down to normal. I was shocked. I suggested ice which they said they had already tried. I pulled out their file which had their intake form and my notes from the session. It was then that the client informed me that they had some degenerative discs in their neck. This was not on the intake form!!

The client said they were feeling back to normal and decided not to go to their doctor. I asked if the improved range of motion had stayed or had they reverted back to their previous stiffness. All benefits of the massage were gone. We both agreed that we would stay away from working on the client's neck. Thank goodness nothing more serious happened to this client and that they were level-headed and reasonable enough to see that we had both made a mistake.

As therapists we can only do so much to protect our clients from injury if they do not disclose their medical conditions. A thorough intake assessment and plan of action should be discussed with the client. My client was all for the therapy I suggested and said it felt wonderful while they were receiving it. I usually take "no pain" as an indication that I am not causing damage, which is why it is crucial that a client is not on pain medication (or alcohol or drugs) while getting a massage. Luckily this situation was not more serious.

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Posted by linda at November 7, 2006 12:06 PM

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