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An unusual complication: prolonged myopathy due to an alternative medical therapy with heat and massage

PainSci » bibliography » Tanriover et al 2009
updated
Tags: treatment, massage, ice heat, harms, manual therapy, rehab, injury, pain problems, self-treatment

Two articles on PainSci cite Tanriover 2009: 1. Massage Therapy Side Effects2. Poisoned by Massage

PainSci notes on Tanriover 2009:

This paper tells the horror story of one person’s awful experience with a severe reaction to (apparently) infrared heat and regular massage over several days. The trouble started after several days. His neck and arms became swollen, the pain “unbearable,” and his “serum muscle enzymes were increased” — probably some form or degree of rhabdomyolysis, which implicates the massage itself as a mechanism of injury.

Massage is not exclusively to blame, however — it was probably interacting with some unidentified vulnerability in the patient, such a muscle disease or a complication caused by a medication. Clearly massage and heat alone do not normally cause such severe side effects.

This is one of three case studies of massage-induced rhabdo in my bibliography: see also Chen and Lai.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

A 66-year-old male presented with swelling of the neck and arms, which was limiting his daily activities. Serum muscle enzymes were increased. A detailed history revealed that the patient received 10 cycles of infrared heat and massage therapy approximately 1 month before his first visit to the outpatient clinic. The swelling of the extremities began on day 11 of therapy, and the pain became unbearable. He was followed up with analgesics. There was a significant decrease in the muscle enzymes and a subjective improvement of 60-70% one month after discharge. Alternative therapies may have serious complications, and patients usually do not report them unless asked specifically.

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