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Can You Get Massages During Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is an essential treatment for many people with cancer. However, the powerful drugs used in chemo can take a toll. Fortunately, there’s a proven way to offset some of those effects. Verywell Health notes that some people seek relief by getting massages while under a chemotherapy regimen. 

This article covers the benefits of massage chair sessions during chemotherapy regimens and some important considerations if you’re considering massages.   

Massage for People With Cancer: Talk to Your Care Team First

While it’s true that the effects of massage on cancer patients are positive, every patient’s situation is unique. From the type of cancer a patient has to their overall health, many factors affect massage and chemotherapy. 

Consequently, it’s crucial to talk with your care team about whether sessions in your massage chair would benefit you or if any aspects of your treatment mean you should avoid them. In most instances, you’ll get the green light to proceed, perhaps with some guidance on massage intensity, duration, timing, etc.

Benefits of Massage for People With Cancer

Coping with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy can leave people both physically and emotionally drained. Massage for chemo patients can be helpful in multiple ways, including:

Pain management
Dealing with cancer-related pain or the side effects of chemotherapy can be debilitating. Gentle massage may alleviate some of this discomfort. It can also help offset any negative impacts on mobility, enabling patients to move more easily between treatments and after they’ve completed a round of chemo.

Nausea relief
Nausea is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Massage may help reduce it in some people. 

Sleep support
People undergoing cancer treatment often have trouble sleeping. Massage chair sessions can contribute to deeper, more restful sleep

Reduced stress and anxiety
A cancer diagnosis can be stressful on many levels. Massages promote relaxation, reducing feelings of anxiety and improving a patient’s overall sense of well-being. 

Massage and Chemotherapy: Important Precautions

As noted above, you should talk with your care team about massages before getting them during a round of chemo. If you get approval to use your massage chair, you should take the following precautions when having massages:

  • Adjust the massage pressure. Chemotherapy can increase your risk of bruising and bleeding. It’s best to use massage chair programs or settings focused on light pressure. Unless your doctor says deep tissue massage is appropriate, it’s typically best to avoid that modality.
  • Time your sessions appropriately. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t use your massage chair immediately before or after chemotherapy sessions. Establishing a cadence with some buffer time between chemo treatments and massages lets your body prepare for and recover from the effects of the medication. 
  • Avoid certain body areas. You should not get massages on radiation treatment sites, surgery scars, or any area that might be sensitive. 
  • Be aware of the implications of lymphedema. If you have lymphedema (swelling due to lymph system damage), massage chair sessions may not be suitable. The same might be true of other types of cancer and their impacts on the body. Look to your care team for guidance. 

Other Considerations About Massage for Chemo Patients 

Certain aspects of chemotherapy influence the effects of massage on cancer patients. For instance, chemotherapy can affect the immune system, reducing its effectiveness. Consequently, special care should be taken to ensure your massage chair is clean before each session to reduce the risk of infection. 

Chemotherapy may also irritate the skin or cause open wounds. If that occurs, it’s important not to massage those areas. 

Remember that flexibility is essential when getting massages during a round of chemo. You may find your massages to be one of the best parts of your day. However, if a change in your condition means a massage will have a net negative effect, you should refrain until your body is ready for sessions again. 

Massage During Chemotherapy: Preparing for Treatment

If you’ve always enjoyed massage therapy and want to continue it during chemotherapy, a massage chair can be the key. If that’s your plan, it’s best to have the chair in your home and ready before you start chemo. 

The knowledgeable and compassionate Comfort Consultants at a Furniture For Life showroom can help you find the chair that will provide the type of gentle, relaxing sessions you’ll want during your treatment. Advanced massage chairs have multiple massage programs and settings for customizing sessions, so if you want more vigorous massages after you’ve recovered from your treatment, your chair can also provide them. 

If you already own a massage chair, you may want to move it to a different location in your home, making it more accessible during your treatment. For example, relocating a chair in your family room to your bedroom might be helpful so you can step out of it and get into your bed with minimal effort. Or, since a massage chair is also a comfortable place to rest when it’s not providing a massage, you might consider that when pondering a new location for it.

Final Thoughts

If you or a loved one is facing or undergoing chemotherapy, you may wonder, “Can cancer patients get massages?” The short answer is yes, people can get massages during chemo with their doctor’s approval, and a massage chair may be the best way to do that for multiple reasons. 

First, having a massage chair in your home is convenient. Travel to and from a massage therapist’s office can add to the physical stress and strain you’re already feeling. When all you have to do is walk to your chair and start a session, no logistics are required.

Second, getting your massages at home means you aren’t exposed to the risk of contracting an illness from your massage therapist, other clients you encounter when coming or going, etc. That’s important for people whose immune systems may be compromised by their treatments. 

Finally, knowing that your massage chair is waiting for you at home as an oasis of comfort and relief can make infusion sessions more tolerable.  

Ultimately, massage therapy can be a valuable complementary treatment for people undergoing chemotherapy, offering a means to relieve stress, manage pain, and improve relaxation. By prioritizing safety, communicating with your doctor, having a high-quality massage chair, and using the right settings, you can make massage a positive part of your cancer treatment journey.

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