Pathology R for Massage Therapists

Raynaud’s disease

Definition: circulatory disease in the hands and feet with sensitivity to cold

Causes: stress, side effect of some drugs, muscle tightness and compression syndromes

Signs/Symptoms: fingers deprived of oxygen turn blue or white, damage may occur to nails

Indications: Massage for stress reduction and relieve any compressed areas

Contraindications: Gangrene may occur in extreme cases; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.
Web resources: Raynaud’s foundation / Wayne State University

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

Definition: Sympathetic Nervous System Disorder

Causes: Trauma, injury, stress

Signs/Symptoms: burning pain, swelling, osteoporsis, skin changes, muscle spasm, joint tenderness, vasoconstriction and dilation, usually in hand or foot but can be other places, may lead to weakness and atrophy

Indications: Massage for stress reduction and relieve spasms. Check postural alignment.

Contraindications: Refer to appropriate health care practitioner

Repetitive Stress Syndrome

Defintion: a combination of conditions which include tendonitis, tenosynovitis, neuralgia, and neuritis

Causes: overuse, poor nutrition, stress

Signs/Symptoms: burning pain, tingling, increased pain with movement, numbness, swelling, inflammation, weakness, reduced mobility, reduced motor ability

Indications: Get clear diagnosis. Reduce inflammation, reduce adhesions, reduce joint stiffness and pain, minimize atrophy

Contraindications: Check for steroid medications

Restless Leg Syndrome

Definition: uncontrollable urge to move legs usually occurring at night

Causes: Unknown; possible causes are drug reaction, brain chemistry imbalance, iron deficiency, pregnancy, neuropathy, improper diet, lack of exercise

Signs/Symptoms: nocturnal leg cramping, muscle tightness, urge to move due to uncomfortable sensations, symptoms may worsen with relaxation, burning feet, fibromyalgia, sleep problems

Indications: Massage to relieve tightness in legs, triggerpoint therapy, stretching program

Contraindications: Relaxation may worsen condition in some cases. Refer to appropriate health care practitioner for nutritional support and treatment. Possible medications for treatment include sinemet, valium, percodan, percocet.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – see arthritis


Definition: fungal infection of the skin

Causes: fungus

Signs/Symptoms: scaly, crusty cracking of the skin

Indications: do not use oil or lotion as fungus thrive in moist areas

Contraindications: No oil or lotion; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner


Definition: chronic skin disorder of the forehead, face and chin

Causes: unknown; may be related to alcohol consumption, poor digestion, dehydration, nutritional deficiencies, stress

Signs/Symptoms: capillaries become dilated causing blotchy areas with pimples, skin may be sensitive to touch

Indications: Massage for stress reduction and removal of toxins and to stimulate digestion

Contraindications: None; Refer to appropriate health care practitioner.

Rotator Cuff Injuries and Problems

Rotator Cuff Problems   By Joel Schwartz, DC

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