Ask a Therapist

By Eliz Ybarra

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2007. Copyright 2007. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Q"I'm planning to have a hip replacement soon. Can I get a massage while I'm in the hospital?"

A. Eliz Ybarra is a licensed massage therapist in Carmichael, California. She offers this advice: "First of all, tell your physician that you'd like to get a massage, and check to be sure it's safe for you to do so while you're in the hospital.

"Certain medical conditions are contraindications for massage, but others may be applicable. Be sure your surgeon approves before you proceed. Ask your physician if the hospital where you're going offers a massage program. If your doctor doesn't know, call the hospital to see if a massage can be arranged.

"Many hospitals offer programs, and massage therapists who work in hospitals receive special training for inpatient care. I was fortunate enough to do an internship in a medical setting and was trained in comfort-care massage, which is a combination of skilled touch modalities that promotes deep relaxation and well-being. Comfort-care massage can help balance physical and emotional needs and provide an opportunity for deep healing.

"Presurgery massage can help relax and prepare your body for a better outcome. After surgery, when you've been cleared by your surgeon, your massage therapist will do an assessment and, assuming there are no contraindications, proceed with your sessions. She'll use gentle techniques designed to reduce pain and improve sleep, which will make your hospital stay more positive. Medications can mask pain, so deep-tissue techniques are out. And it's important that you tell your physical therapist (PT) you're working with a massage therapist. You'll benefit from the partnership between your PT and massage therapist.

"Remember, healing begins with your intentions, and healing takes time. You didn't get to the point where you needed a hip replacement overnight, so be patient with yourself and your body."

Skin Care Therapy

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