May is Lyme disease awareness month, the beginning of summer and the time of the year when ticks are abundant. It is extremely important to take precautions when going out into areas where ticks may live and always checking children, pets, and yourself for signs of ticks.
Lyme disease is an infection transmitted by the bite from a deer tick that produces flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, achiness, swollen glands, and headaches. Deep nerve and joint pain and damage may eventually occur if left untreated.
Since massage therapy has been proven to treat many of the individual symptoms of Lyme disease, it can be considered an effective treatment for the symptoms of this tick-borne disease as well. Nerve and joint pain, headaches, overall achiness – massage therapy is ideal for treating these ailments.
As a massage therapist, it is important to understand possible symptoms of the disease. Some clients may suffer from partial facial paralysis or numbness/lack of sensation throughout areas of the body, which makes it difficult for them to provide feedback during the massage. These five gentle massage techniques are the best general guidelines to follow when working on a client with Lyme disease:
Swedish massage, when done with light to moderate pressure, has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, improve sleep, and reduce pain. The massage also increases circulation throughout the body, which can help reduce inflammation and pain while giving the muscle tissues more oxygen.
Lymph massage is a gentle technique to help manually stimulate the flow of lymph through the pathways and lymph nodes. The lymph system is highly responsible for the removal of toxins from the body; increased flow means the body will increase the amount of toxins it releases, detoxifying the body, reducing inflammation, and improving the immune system. Lymphatic drainage should not be performed on clients taking antibiotics.
Reflexology has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and pain, and is a massage technique that focuses primarily on the hands and feet.
This form of massage therapy is a gentle technique that encourages the balance between the cranial and spinal systems, while also helping to support the nervous system.
Therapeutic Touch (Reiki)
Therapeutic touch is a massage technique that focuses on the body’s energies. It is a very gentle form of massage and has been proven to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and pain.
If you suffer from Lyme disease, the above massage techniques may offer relief. However, it is best to avoid Deep Tissue Massage, as this can cause an increase in inflammation 12-36 hours later and may result in increased pain.