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There are a number of situations in which massage is contraindicated, meaning that it is not recommended. In all cases, it is important to disclose any underlying medical conditions and concerns you may have to your massage therapist, so that he or she can adjust the session to fit your body and needs. It is also a good idea to discuss it with your healthcare provider, as he or she may believe that massage is contraindicated for you, or the provider may have recommendations for modalities which would be best suited to your condition.
With all of the following conditions, massage is contraindicated: fever, infection, broken bones, infectious disease, high blood pressure, tumors, open wounds, muscle ruptures, heavy bruising, herniation, burns, myositis ossificans, thrombosis, and bleeding disorders such as hemophilia. It is also not recommended for people with severe heart conditions and some skin infections. Some gastrointestinal complaints can also be complicated by massage, and at the very least, it can be uncomfortable in these situations, so you may want to discuss such situations with a therapist before you begin.
In some cases, it is safe to get massage, but the therapist should avoid deep work. These situations include when it is performed on the elderly, along with people who have osteoporosis, arthritis, and rheumatism. Deep work is also contraindicated for people with autoimmune diease, Hodgkin's disease, recent scar tissue, and conditions like arteriosclerosis.
There are some conditions for which massage can be beneficial for some people, but not for others. For example, some medical professionals say that it is contraindicated for cancer, while others recommend gentle massage for cancer patients. Joint dysfunction can be greatly eased by this practice, but it can also be exacerbated, and likewise for some psychiatric conditions. It is also not recommended directly at the site of varicose veins.
Some people believe that massage is contraindicated for women who are menstruating. This is not the case; in fact, it can sometimes help with cramping. However, as a courtesy, you should ask the massage therapist if he or she is comfortable working on you. It can also be highly beneficial for pregnant women, when it is offered by a provider who has been specially trained to offer it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of conditions for which massage is contraindicated. If you have a rare medical condition or you are taking medication to treat a specific medical issue, always consult your healthcare provider before making an appointment.