Osteoporosis and Massage

Q. I am in the early stages of osteoporosis and am working to continue my exercise program. I consult with an MD and a chiropractor with some regularity and like massage. I am concerned as my disease progresses that traditional massage may not be good for me. Any thoughts that you might provide will be helpful.

A. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become weak and break easily. Because the bones are less dense, they weaken and can limit a person’s mobility and flexibility. The condition is more common to women than men and generally presents after age 50.

I posed your question to Geoffrey West, a licensed massage therapist who founded Integral Transformative Bodywork in Atlanta. He says, “The traditional ‘mash and stretch’ that most people think of medical/rehabilitation massage therapy may be problematic for someone with osteoporosis.”

“Current research suggests that the softer touch techniques will provide relaxation and ease to complement the client’s needs,” West explains. “These nurturing techniques help with the psychological and physiological tension that is characteristic of osteoporosis.

“Interview a massage therapist before making an appointment,” he suggests. “And use the keywords ‘slow, medium-depth-guided strokes’ and disclose your diagnosis of osteoporosis to ensure that you get the service that you seek.”

Want to learn more about massage and pain conditions? Read “The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Arthritis,” “Finding a Massage Therapist,” and “Hand Self-Massage.”

Our expert: Jackson Rainer is a board-certified clinical psychologist who practices with the Care and Counseling Center in Decatur, Georgia, helping people living with chronic illnesses. He consults with a variety of experts to answer a selection of readers’ questions in each issue of Pain-Free Living.

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