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Massage Therapy Contraindications

author image James Mulcahy
James Mulcahy is a New York City-based licensed massage therapist with more than 1,500 hours of training in anatomy, myology and pathology. He currently works as a freelance writer and has contributed to Huffington Post, New York Press, British Airway’s High Life, Metromix and many other publications.
Massage Therapy Contraindications
If you are sick, obtain a doctor's permission before scheduling a massage. Photo Credit: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Massage therapy is generally safe and can be applied to a wide range of individuals at any age. Even so, there are certain conditions that are contraindicated. If you suffer from certain illness and diseases, massage therapy may worsen the condition. If you have localized problems, the therapist will avoid the area. If you suspect that massage might be contraindicated, be sure to talk to your doctor before scheduling an appointment with a massage therapist.

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Burns and Open Wounds

According to The Mayo Clinic, any massage work on burns and open wounds is contraindicated. Depending on the extent of your injury, the therapist might be able to massage other parts of the body if she avoids these areas.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The Mayo Clinic also points out that those with rheumatoid arthritis should avoid any massage therapy during flare ups of their disease. The physical manipulation of the tissue and bone can aggravate the condition and increase levels of discomfort.


The American Cancer Society recommends that patients with certain types of cancer and at various stages of treatment should avoid massage therapy. Massage is contraindicated in patients with cancer that has spread to the bone or spine. Patients that have recently undergone radiation or chemotherapy also should avoid massage therapy. Massage is contraindicated on any limb below removed lymph nodes, as it could induce swelling. If you have any type of cancer, get your doctor's permission before scheduling a massage.


If you have a fever, you should not receive massage therapy. In addition to potentially worsening your illness, you would also put the therapist at risk of getting sick.

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