Archives for category: Self-care
In RA, the synovium, the tissue that lines the joint, mistakenly becomes a target for the immune system. The immune system cells release inflammation-causing chemicals which cause inflammation in the synovium. The synovium creates a fluid called synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint allowing for smooth movement. When the synovium becomes inflamed and damaged, it fails to produce this lubricant and the joint does not move as freely. If the inflammation of the synovium continues over time, the cartilage and eventually the bone become damaged. The joints can then become deformed and misshapen, and movement becomes limited.

RA affects more than just the hands and other smaller joints; it can affect the entire body making it a systemic condition.

Symptoms

  • pain in multiple small joints for six weeks or longer,
  • morning joint stiffness lasting longer than 30 minutes,
  • bilateral pain,
  • loss of energy and appetite,
  • low grade fever,
  • dry eyes and mouth (Siogren’s syndrome),
  • and rheumatoid nodules, or lumps, which can grow beneath the skin.

Trouble breathing, anemia and inflammation of the blood vessels can also be symptoms of RA.

Joints affected by RA may be tender, warm and swollen, typically in a symmetrical pattern – meaning if one side is affected the other side usually is affected as well. RA shows up in the smaller joints first, so wrist and finger joints are affected most often, but other joints such as the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles along with the feet can be affected. While there is a great deal of variation in symptoms, once someone shows signs of RA, those symptoms usually last for years.

Drug treatment for RA involves drugs called disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Analgesics like non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and NSAIDs may also be used to reduce swelling, pain and fever.

Massage and Rheumatoid Arthritis

While massage can aid in increasing mobility and alleviating muscle tightness resulting from chronic pain, it cannot do much to alleviate pain from deformed or degenerating joints. Moderate pressure Swedish massage and myofascial release are the two types of massage that research has proven offer benefits for those with RA, but there may be other techniques that reduce pain and increase mobility as well.

Massage therapy has been shown to reduce pain and increase joint mobility as well as decrease depression and anxiety in clients with RA. In one study, those with RA who received moderate pressure massages enjoyed less pain and greater mobility and grip strength than those who received lighter pressure massage therapy (Field, et.al., 2013). Another study showed that the stress hormone cortisol decreased immediately when RA patients received massage therapy (Field, et.al., 1997).

A 2011 study showed that myofascial massage, applied three times per week for two weeks, provided significant pain relief from RA symptoms. Myofascial release works through the application of sustained moderate to deep pressure, which allows the muscle to lengthen, reducing strain on the joints from muscle tension (Cubick, et.al., 2011).

Deep tissue massage techniques or trigger point therapy on clients with RA, should be limited, as these techniques might trigger a flare up of inflammation, especially near joints affected by the disease. When employing these techniques, it is important to work slowly, giving the client time to react, and to not overdo it. Let the client “live with” the work after a short, limited amount of deep work to see how their body reacts. If they are okay and do not have an increase in inflammation in RA-affected joints after the session, you can do a little more deep work at the next appointment. If they have a flare up of symptoms, avoid deep tissue techniques. Communication from the client is key. Massage should never be more painful than a good workout. Discomfort is one thing, but especially when dealing with RA, pain is not optimal.

Contraindications

Basic contraindications for massage therapy apply to those clients with RA as well; avoid massage when there are open wounds, fever, skin rashes or irritation, or deep vein thrombosis. Clients with any significant health concerns should be cleared by their physician before getting massage therapy.

When working on clients with RA, joints that are in an acute stage of inflammation and are warm, red, or extremely painful should be avoided. The therapist should check in with the client regularly to ensure that the pressure is not too deep, as it is important to ensure the massage does not trigger muscle contraction and cause more tension and pain. If a client is having a significant flare up of symptoms, massage should not be performed until symptoms calm down. Joint mobilization and stretching should be performed with care, as joints may be damaged or compromised.

Massage therapy has been shown to significantly reduce pain, increase mobility and reduce stress and anxiety for clients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Massage therapy should be light to moderate, and care should be taken with inflamed and potentially damaged joints. Clients with RA live with pain as a constant companion and truly appreciate any intervention which offers relief from that pain.

Communication with the therapist as to medications taken is important. Depending on the medication considerations will be made pertaining to how the medications affect the body including pain relief, muscle relaxation, nerve reaction, dehydration, time of last dose etc.

 Adapted from an article Written By Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS  December 7th, 2016

 

The Chinese five element system is an ancient way of looking at the human body, human personalities, the environment and much more. Wood, fire, earth, metal and water are viewed as the primary natural elements.

Below is a simple chart to give you an idea of natural cycles that the body and the emotions evolves through, during various phases in a twelve month period. Understanding how to approach the body’s phases with foods, herbs, essential oils, supplementation and lifestyle can lead to a more balanced healthier state of being.
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The Five Phases of the Seasons
SEASON
ORGAN
BODY SIGNALS
BODY CUES
Summer
FIRE ENERGY
Small Intestines
Heart
Over excitable
Can’t Relax
Self-Pity
Chronic Tension
High Blood Pressure
Chest Aching
Ache Between Shoulders
Red Complexion

Late Summer
SOIL ENERGY
Waning Energy
Spleen
Pancreas
Stomach
Mood Swings
Jealousy
Overly Sensitive
Anxious
Erratic Energy Levels
Binging on Sweets
Self-Pity
Belching

Fall
METAL ENERGY
Contraction Energy
Lungs
Large Intestines
Melancholy
Disinterested
Depression
Weary
Fatigue
Pale Complexion
Intestinal Issues
Sinuses/Phlegm

Winter
Water Energy
Quiet Energy
Kidneys
Bladder
Sexual Organs
Overwhelmed
Timid
Insecure
Fear
Frequent Pale Urine
Or Scant Dark Urine
Often Feel Cold
Lower back Ache

Spring
Wood/Tree Energy
Ascending Energy
Liver
Gallbladder
Anger
Domineering
Frustrated
Sensitive
Headaches
Irritated Eyes
Often Overeat
Restless 11am-2pm

Reference: Maria Low A.O., Steven Acuff, The Self-Healing Cookbook: Whole Foods to Balance Body, Mind & Moods by Kristina Turner, Ultimate Balance: Infusing the Vibrational Energy of Essential Oils into Chakras, Meridians and Organs

The natural cycles of the body and the emotions evolve seasonally through the year Being able to understand and approach the body’s phases with foods, herbs, essential oils, supplementation and lifestyle can lead to a healthier life.

Products to Help Balance the Five Seasons These Products can be found in my online shop. (Password JALMT) Always check with your physician or personal health provider to ensure these products are safe for you.

Heart/Small Intestine Support

Spleen/Pancreas/Stomach Support

Lungs/Large Intestine Support

Kidneys/Bladder/Sexual Organs

Liver/Gallbladder

 

cancerFamilies are in the trenches fighting cancer every day. If cancer hasn’t crossed your path,
whether directly or through a loved one, consider yourself lucky. It’s easy to feel helpless when friends and people close to you are struggling. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I’m going to give you some simple things you can do to help those who are facing the dreaded “C” word.

Do. Don’t ask.

It’s easy to say, “let me know if you need anything.” What the family needs is someone to say, “hey, I’m making you dinner.” Or “I’m babysitting – just tell me what day (or night).” Don’t give them the burden of asking. Just offer it.

Gift cards go a long way.

Treatments can sometimes take a patient and family far from home. Do a little research and purchase gift cards for restaurants, hotel chains and gas stations near the hospital they are using. A gift subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix may be helpful to someone who is bedridden. Some downtime and low key entertainment might be just what they need. And, of course, a massage gift certificate is a perfect way to care for the care givers or the individual.

Remember the siblings.

Cancer affects the entire family. Siblings often are trying to navigate many emotions like fear and jealousy. Commit to a sibling and offer to be there for them. Be a friend. Be someone they can lean on and talk to. If you send the cancer patient a gift, make sure you give them someone of equal to the sibling and include them.

Show up

Shortly after diagnosis, a family will receive calls, cards, and meals. Anything to help soothe the heartbreaking news. After time, these things fade away and the family is still traveling the long road. It could be months or even years. It’s a financial and emotional weight. Keep them in mind and reach out well after the dust settles.

It’s hard to know what to say to a family that’s struggling with cancer. But don’t disappear. Meet them where they are. Sometimes there are no words. Just be present.  Reach out and enlist the help of others to send cards, letters and other nice/silly/fun things that will brighten the family’s day. Even an “I’ve been thinking of you” text speaks volumes.

These tips might not seem like much, but it can mean the world to a family facing cancer. Long days and sleepless nights can be an endless cycle. Little gestures of kindness can bring the family loads comfort.

It’s not hard to think up great ways to treat yourself. We’d all love a spa day topped off with a meal prepared and served by someone else. Maybe a sitter for the night, so the little angels are asleep when we get home. Or just a morning where the cat doesn’t wake you up by sitting on your windpipe.

But for every article I see about self care, I roll my eyes at least 12 times and think “Who can afford that?”  And sure, I would love to have an afternoon to myself and a bucket of fried chicken, and a cookie dough chaser. But that’s not particularly healthy.
gift8So I’m a fan of realistic self care. That is, activities that aren’t expensive, don’t involve food, and will make you feel good about how you spent that time. Here’s a list of my favorites

Meditate, the easy way

If you’re the kind of person who can’t sleep during the day, napping can be  more like torture. But guided meditation is a whole other story. It gives your mind something (easy) to do so the rest of you can relax a bit. There are plenty of free guided meditations online, my favorites are at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center website.   

Walk and a picnic

Okay, this one involves food, or just a beverage. Pack a little bag with a snack and a drink and go for a walk. Doesn’t need to be far, doesn’t need to be fancy. Just get outside, find a rock or a glade or a bench, settle in and sip your beverage. Listen to the quiet, or people-watch. Even better, bring a little trash bag and pick up litter along your route. You’ve just added in a random act of kindness to your personal time. Go, you!

Read a book

When was the last time you read for pleasure. Even if you can’t get to your library, there are plenty of Free ebooks on Amazon, and your local library probably may have a free online borrowing program. Or reread some of your favorite books from childhood if you have them hanging around.

Learn something

If you choose the topic right, learning is great self-care. Pick a topic for FUN. Don’t feel like you need to learn something pertinent to your work or a current hobby.  Check out Coursera, MIT or Harvard to start. (But there are PLENTY of sources for free online classes, do your own searching, too!)        

Draw

Bust out a piece for paper and draw something. Even if you don’t have fancy pencils or crayons or markers, you can play with shading and pressure and make something cool. There are plenty of free coloring pages you can download and print out.

Write a letter (this one will cost you the price of a stamp)

Remember letters? On real paper? It’s becoming a lost art, which is kinda sad. it used to be so exciting to get a real letter in the mail. Not a bill, not an advertisement, but a real letter, with news, from someone you love. It was downright magical.

If you feel totally lost and don’t know where to start, here’s a site to help you out.

Geocaching! (Pre-PokemonGo-Style)

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. There are plenty of free apps to help you learn geocaching and get started. My family’s favorite is Geocaching.com.  

YouTube Karaoke

For nearly every song out there, there’s a karaoke accompaniment on YouTube. For reals. Crank it up and let ‘er rip. You’re a stress-free superstar now.

Play cards

Get a kid and play Uno, or find an old deck of real cards and fall into a game of solitaire.

Foot bath

You can go nuts and find a whole bunch of fancy recipes on the internet, or just throw some salt into big bowl of warm water. Put a foot in there. Scrub it a bit with a washcloth. It feels good, the warmth is calming (or use cool water if it’s a zillion degrees where you’re at), and your feet will be all soft and good-smelling when you take ‘em out.

Got a teabag? Throw it in. Got an essential oil you like? A few drops’ll do. No big whoop.

When you’re ready, dry that foot off and slather with some lotion. Or coconut oil. Or olive oil. Whatever you have is just fine. (Put some socks on to really make it last, and so you don’t slip, ok?)

And when all else fails: Nap

Put your jammies on and take a nap. In your bed. Not all jammed up on the couch with the TV on. Close the shades in your bedroom and hunker down for a proper sleep.
There. You don’t have to spend money or fill your belly to feel great and treat yourself well! But if you just want to spend money on yourself, you could always book a massage. 😉 

OMG, if I could count on one hand how many people’s primary complaint is neck and shoulder pain, I wouldn’t have a job! Seriously, I can just about guarantee anyone walking into my office is going to have a complaint of EITHER Neck & Shoulder pain or Low Back Pain if not both.

People with neck and shoulder issues often have their pain return before their next massage appointment. Work, play and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while folding laundry, doing yard work, playing on the computer or any of the other million things you do.

What can you do between professional massage appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are some ideas.

Take a Break

Take short breaks as often as you can if you sit at a computer all day. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you’re chained to the desk, you can rock out a little Deskercise to stay loose.

Get the kids into it

Have a short yoga break together! There are plenty of videos made especially for kids, and the moves are just as beneficial for adults. Bonus: got a little one averse to naptime? Try the lying-down postures here and maybe you’ll get a short break.

Heat it

Just 10-15 minutes of heat on your shoulders can make a huge difference in how your tissue moves and feels. You don’t need a fancy heating pad, you can make one at home pretty easily. Check out this DIY tutorial.

Self-massage

Try it, you might be surprised how much it helps! It’s not complicated, just grab a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball, or even a red rubber ball and check out these techniques.

Choose the right pillow

superb_new_PILLOW_SILO_775_jjYou spend about one third of your time in bed, be sure it’s cozy for your neck. Side-sleepers have different needs than belly-sleepers. The right pillow at night can help you all day. I have a limited supply (FOUR) of Bed Boss Superb Pillows at the office. I like them because they are #1 shredded memory foam, so they keep their shape, but offer support too. #2 have a cooling gel insert so my head doesn’t sweat at night. #3 It’s just right for shaping it myself regardless of how I’m sleeping. They retail for $70 but the ones I have I’m selling for only $40. But once they are gone, they are gone. 

A few minutes of self care every day, little changes, can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment! Book your appointment online today!