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June 4, 2008

Shingles and Massage

After taking last week off from blogging because of exams, I'm, addressing some of the material this week that we covered and how it relates to massage.

Part of a massage therapist's responsibility is to take a small medical history from each client before they agree to work with them. One of the questions typically asked is about rashes and other skin conditions. A client may arrive one day with fatigue and have a hypersensitive area on their torso. They may report that they got bitten several times by some little bug under their clothes that they didn't notice.

It's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of shingles (varicella zoster) because early detection and intervention can reduce severity and duration of symptoms. Not only that, shingles is a manifestation of the once dormant chicken pox virus, and if you or another client in your practice has not had chicken pox, you could be susceptible to catching it.

Occasionally, shingles can lead to postherpetic neuralgia, a painful and debilitating condition where the skin remains painful for months or years after the rash clears up. This happened to my father, and as a result he had to go on Neurontin for pain management. He complained that light pressure, such as his clothing, aggravated the pain, but the firm touch of massage did not. On days that I was able to massage him, he did not need to take his pain medication as frequently.

Two things worth mentioning: There vaccines available against both chicken pox and shingles. Also, if a client comes to you with shingles on their face, around the eye and especially down the nose, send them to a doctor immediately. Untreated shingles in that area could cause permanent vision damage.

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Posted by linda at June 4, 2008 4:49 PM

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