Pathology E for Massage Therapists

Eczema (dermatitis)

Definition: type of dermatitis; sometimes called dermatitis; inflammation of the skin

Causes: allergies, stress, exposure to poisonous plants, depleted cortisol levels due to continued high stress.

Signs/Symptoms: fluid filled blisters that weep, ooze and crust over, itching, redness, scaling, dry flaky skin

Indications: Massage to reduce stress, eliminate toxins; Use Vitamin E oil

Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner:  Avoid inflamed areas.


Definition: localized or generalized condition in which the body tissues contain an excessive amount of fluid.

Causes: inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, restrictions caused by tight muscles, systemic disorders such as kidney problems, congestive heart failure

Signs/Symptoms: excessive fluid in area, feels “squishy”

Indications: Massage to remove toxin build up. Release tight muscles.

Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner if pitting occurs ( area remained indented after applying pressure)

Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment (Lww Massage Therapy & Bodywork Series) (Hardcover) – by James H. Clay, David M. Pounds

Clinical Massage Therapy: Understanding, Assessing and Treating Over 70 Conditions (Paperback) – by Fiona Rattray (Author), Linda Ludwig (Author)

Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual (2-Volume Set) (Hardcover) – by David G. Simons, Janet G. Travell, Lois S. Simons, Barbara D. Cummings

Edema and Lymphedema Are They Different? Implications for Bodyworkers  By Kalyani Premkumar Massage and Bodywork Magazine

Elbow Problems

Golfer’s Elbow – By Ben Benjamin, PhD

Pain on Passive Motions of the Elbow – By Ben Benjamin, PhD

Tennis Elbow – By Ben Benjamin, PhD


Definition: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): name means “blown up” or “full of air”; lungs lose their elasticity and remain filled with air during expiration

Causes: loss of elasticity and dilation of lung tissue usually due to air pollution, occupational exposure to industrial dust, smoking

Signs/Symptoms: reduced expiration, increase in size of chest cage, decrease in blood oxygen, fatigue, coughing, cyanosis.

Indications: Massage for stress reduction:  Castor oil packs on chest and back; work rib cage – pecs, intercostals, serratus anterior, scalenes, rectus abdominis and other areas to facilitate breathing.  Breathing Exercises.

Contraindications: Work with appropriate health care practitioner.  May have other contraindications like fever due to flu or pneumonia. (weakened immune system).  May not be able to lay prone or supine due to lack of breath.


Definition: Growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus

Causes: hereditary, fluid backup into the fallopian tubes, poor nutrition, hormonal imbalances

Signs/Symptoms: pelvic pain, back pain, excessive bleeding, nausea, vomiting, infertility, painful urination, premenstral spotting, vertebral subluxation.

Indications: Massage for stress and pain reduction, detoxification; hot packs or castor oil packs on abdomen; Visceral manipulation.  Psoas and iliacus work to tolerance.

Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.  Naturopath/Acupuncture to address lifestyle and diet changes.  Chiropractic treatments for optimal nerve functioning.


Definition: disease of nervous system

Causes: head injuries, tumors and abscesses, childhood infections, hereditary, food allergies

Signs/Symptoms: seizures that affect the motor, sensory, or psychological systems First Aid for Seizure: help person lie down if not already (preferably on floor). loosen clothing and remove sharp objects. Turn person on side so saliva can flow from mouth. Call for aid if more than 5 minutes long if you know they have epilepsy. Client  may need assistance getting home.

Indications: Massage for stress reduction; Craniosacral therapy; Aromatherapy- jasmine, chamomile, lavender, Ylang Ylang.

Contraindications: Some medications used to treat the seizures may cause blood disorders, fatigue. Seizures may be caused by other factors such as alkalosis, arteriosclerosis, stroke, meningitis, high fever. Aromatherapy-avoid camphor, hyssops, fennel, rosemary, sage, wormwood, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, black pepper. Work with appropriate health care practitioner.

Epstein Barr

Definition: chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia caused by Epstein-Barr virus of the herpes virus family:  no one really knows what it is

Signs/Symptoms: fatigue, flu-like symptoms, mood swings, irritability, fever, aching muscles and joints

Indications: Massage for stress and pain reduction

Contraindications: Work with appropriate health care practitioner


No More Earaches – By John Upledger, DO, OMM

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