Man rolling wood massage tool over woman's back
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Massage therapy is a general term used to describe various forms of hands-on body work. This includes Swedish, deep tissue, sports, neuromuscular, hot stone, trigger point, lymphatic, therapeutic touch massage and many others. It is a common form of complementary medicine used to relax tight muscles, reduce pain, promote relaxation, reduce stress, enhance healing and improve circulation. There may be side effects from massage therapy; however, many of these can be avoided with open and honest communication with the therapist.

Temporary Soreness

One possible side effect of massage therapy is temporary muscle soreness, pain or discomfort, states the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Always check with a health care provider first about any precautions that need to be taken based on personal medical history. During the massage, tell the therapist if the pressure is too deep or uncomfortable. Honestly report any injuries that may require the therapist to go lighter or even avoid certain areas. Soreness that occurs a day or two after the massage should be discussed with the massage therapist.

Low Blood Sugar

Blood sugar levels can drop during and after a massage, warns the University of Maryland Medical Center. For this reason, diabetics need to monitor their blood glucose levels before and after receiving body work. However, regular massage may, in the long run, play a role in helping to regulate blood sugar, as long as levels are monitored and the therapist is aware of the condition.


In rare cases, massage therapy can lead to bruising. If you bruise easily or take blood-thinning medications, be sure to tell your therapist before the massage so she can take measures to avoid causing bruises. Massage should never be performed in areas where there is a fracture, open wound, infection or tumor. Talking honestly about medical conditions and medications being taken with a doctor and the therapist, will help avoid serious complications.

Allergic Reactions

Massage therapists use a variety of tools to help the body relax and promote wellness. Creams or oils may be used so the therapist's hands can slide smoothly over the skin. Scented products may be used to promote relaxation as well. It is important to notify the therapist of any allergies that may be triggered by the products used.

In addition, after treatment be on the lookout for skin reactions, swelling or redness. Any chest pain or discomfort, or trouble breathing or swallowing requires immediate medical attention.

Bone Fractures

Patients who are living with rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis or other conditions that can cause the bones to become frail, should talk with a physician before receiving massage therapy. Along with the actual disease, the medications and treatments these patients are receiving can sometimes weaken the bones. In these cases, even a light touch can cause a fracture.

If a doctor does give the OK for massage, the next step is to find a therapist who is properly licensed. In addition, some massage therapists have received specialized training to work with specific medical conditions.