Why I Ask About Your Medications

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On your first visit to me, you were asked (or will be asked) on your intake form, whether or not you are taking in medications. If you checked yes, then I have asked (or will ask) about what medications you are on. What’s the purpose behind that? I’m not a doctor and I’m never going to recommend any medicines to you, so why ask about what your currently taking?

Like most Americans, you may be taking one or more medications to manage your health on a more regular basis. And like most other Americans, you would like to include massage therapy into your healthcare strategies.

Medications and massage are not always a good match. The study of the interaction between massage and medication may just be in the beginning phases, but we do have a lot of information about how various drugs affect the way we function, and we have some good ideas about how different types of massage and bodywork affect the way we function. The question that is still being explored however, is what happens when we overlap these to interventions.

This does not suggest that anyone who takes medication shouldn’t receive a massage. But it does point out that I (or your massage therapist) may need to take some extra steps to create a session that is best suitable to you, depending on what kinds of medications you take.

The following is a list of common classes of medications that people take either occasionally or on an ongoing basis, along with ways these substances might influence your massage or bodywork session. It is important to let me (or your massage therapist) know not only that you take these medications, but also when your last does was, and what the condition is that you are treating.

Painkiller and Anti- Inflammatories
Painkillers and anti- inflammatory drugs both work by limiting inflammation, which takes some pressure off irritated nerve endings. These medicines are often classed as acetaminophen, salicylates, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroidal anti-inflammatories. Some of these drugs are available without a prescription, but this does not mean they are free of risk.

Cardiovascular Disease Management Drugs
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States today, and its earliest stages are often subtle or completely silent. Many people who want to reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke may manage their condition with drugs that reduce the workload on the heart. These medicines are often classed as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digitalis; drugs that decrease fluid retention (diuretics); cholesterol-lowering medication; or clot management drugs.

If you happen to take any of these drugs, it is important to inform me (or your massage therapist) because several of these drugs reinforce the relaxation response that massage brings about. In other words, you may be getting a double dose of stimulus that causes your heart to beat with less vigor and your blood pressure to drop. This does not mean you should skip your does of medications the day of your massage, but it does mean that I need to know, so I can adjust your session to your best benefit.

Diabetes Management Drugs
Type 1 diabetes is the inability to produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is related to low insulin secretion, insulin resistance, or both. Both types of diabetes can cause dangerously high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. If it is not consistently and carefully treated, diabetes can lead to amputations, blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, skin ulcers, stroke, and many other serious complications.

Antidepressants and Anti-Anxiety Drugs
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are used to treat many disorders, including various types of depression, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, fibromyalgia syndrome, and others. Several of the drugs work by changing the way chemicals are secreted and reabsorbed in the brain.

Many people find that the side effects of their medications are especially severe when they first begin a treatment regimen. Some side affects can include headaches, dizziness, and light-headedness, which massage can make worse if I don’t make the proper adjustments to your session. This is why it is important to let me know if you use these medications.

I make it my duty to do my best to make you feel better when you leave than when you came in. If you don’t inform me of the medications you are taking, I can end up making you feel worse, which is against all that I stand for. Do me and yourself a favor, and let me know what medications we are on and if your medications change.

Source: Does Your MT Know What Meds You’re Taking