If you’ve chosen a career as a massage therapist, you likely enjoy helping people feel better and heal from injuries. However, working with your hands all day can cause you to suffer injuries. While some of these injuries will be sudden (and immediately noticeable) but most will occur slowly, over time.
Many of these injuries also occur in physical therapists and others whose jobs involve working on people’s muscles and tissues with their hands, wrists and forearms — and all of them can be very disabling.
Four injuries common to massage and physical therapists
These conditions are common to people who work in massage and physical therapy:
- Tenosynovitis: This condition causes the protective tenosynovial sheath that surrounds some tendons to become inflamed. It can result in pain, stiffness and swelling of joints that make them difficult to move.
- Tendinitis: This is when a torn tendon becomes inflamed. Like tenosynovitis, it can be caused by performing repetitive, high-force treatments and causes similar symptoms.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is when the median nerve, which controls the thumb and fingers, becomes compressed. While it’s often associated with people who type all day, it can result from any kind of repetitive work with the hands and wrists, like giving massages. It can cause pain, swelling, numbness and difficulty gripping things. If not treated, it can result in permanent muscle damage.
- Overuse syndrome: This refers to injuries of the muscles or tendons that results from repetitive, stressful movements. It usually occurs gradually but can cause pain and tightness.
It’s important for massage therapists and others who do similar work to take care of themselves. That means warming up before treatment, taking breaks in between treatments and not scheduling intense treatments back-to-back.
If you do suffer an injury, it’s essential to get the medical care and treatment you need to heal and resume your work. Since some of these injuries can be caused by a number of things or be difficult to get a firm diagnosis on, you might have difficulty getting the workers’ compensation you need and deserve. If you do, it may be wise to talk with an experienced attorney.