Pathologies, Massage and Contraindications Part 6 Lupus – By Vanessa Ragains

Our topic of discussion last week was about Disc Disease. It defined when the pain is caused be intervertebral disc has been damaged and puts pressure on the nerve. This is one of the pathologies that Massage therapists need to be aware of the unique situation with the client they are working with. Careful bodywork with a focus on decompressing the spine gently are wonderful techniques to incorporate with your clients who suffer from Disc Disease. We continue our Pathology journey with the complicated disease, Lupus.

Pathologies, Massage and Contraindications Part 6 Lupus

Lupus Defined: An auto-immune disease in which numerous tissues are attacked by our own immune system. This disease can be a mild issue to a life-threatening issue. The extreme cases attack the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain.

Lupus Symptoms:

  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Mental confusion, cognitive dysfunction, short-term memory loss
  • Alopecia (unexplained hair loss)
  • Malar rash
  • Discoid skin rash (may cause permanent scarring)
  • Photosensitivity
  • Mucous membrane ulcers, particularly in mouth, nose, throat
  • Arthritis in more than 2 joints (not the spine)
  • Pleurisy and/or pericarditis
  • Kidney problems
  • Brain irritation (headaches, seizures, or psychosis)
  • Blood count abnormalities
  • Immunological disorders
  • Antinuclear antibodies in blood

Types of Lupus:

Drug-induced Lupus:

This type of lupus can be caused by the medications that a client may already be taking on a regular basis. These medications would be used for high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, psychosis as well as epilepsy. The symptoms disappear once these medications are discontinued.

Neonatal Lupus:

This occurrence happens from a mother passing antibodies of Lupus to her newborn baby. These issues the baby may have consist of skin rash, liver problems, and low blood counts. once the antibodies are not active, the baby will recover with no long-term side-effects.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE):

This is a chronic skin rash that consists of scaly red patches that do not itch.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE):

This type of lupus is caused by an antibody that attacks several different tissues throughout the body. because of this your client may have suffer from a variety of arthritis, renal failure, thrombosis, psychosis, seizures, coronary artery disease, inflammation of the heart, and pleurisy. SLE can be controlled, however it can become a very serious situation and there is no cure at this time. There are situations that the client will begin with DLE and it can evolve into SLE.

Massage Risks:

Because of the systems in our bodies that lupus can effect, there are special cautions that the Massage therapists should use as guidelines. The client will know when they are in the “flare” stages and it is our responsibility to communicate to our client and make sure they are comfortable with body work or if you should reschedule the session.

Massage Benefits:

During your client’s flare, gentle massage techniques can be used to reduce anxiety and pain they may be experiencing. This body work should be just enough to not increase inflammation or pushing fluids through challenged systems that would cause much irritation for your client. This may make the entire session unsuccessful and leave the client feeling even worse.

My Opinion: 

Lupus is a complicated pathology that requires the therapist and client to have clear communication about the current issues the client may be experiencing that particular day. An understanding from the therapist that the client may need to cancel last-minute which may go against your policy. However, in this case, allowing for this flexibility in this instance will support the client in feeling comfortable and trusting that you understand their circumstance.

I personally have a late/cancelation policy, however, my clients are so consistent that I rarely have to put that into effect. For my clients who have a disease, I will always make an exception for them, no questions asked! It only becomes necessary when I have an evening event that is time sensitive.

For you as the Massage therapist, I would suggest strongly that you do as much research to understand this complicated disease that affects so many people, today!

Is there a Pathology you would be interested in reading about? I would love your suggestions on certain pathologies that you may need to see in the breakdown. Check back next week for our next discussion on Pathologies, Massage, and Contraindications!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. I am looking forward to reviewing common and uncommon Pathologies that we may encounter on our journey of being a Massage therapist. For all you awesome clients out there, I hope you learn why massage can actually be contraindicated with certain pathologies and precautions you and your therapist need to take.

I LOVE YOUR QUESTIONS!! Please feel free to ask me a question or comment about what you read today. Looking forward to hearing from radical Folks like yourself!


All this information come from one of my must-have books for the massage career: A Massage Therapist Guide to Pathology. 5th Edition Author: Ruth Werner



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s