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  • Why You Need to be Honest & Complete With Your Health History

    massage forms

    If I had a nickel for every health history form I’ve seen that wasn’t filled out completely, I’d have a lot of nickels. And if I could somehow, magically know which ones have omitted information while otherwise looking complete and get a nickel for those as well, I’d probably have a whole lot more nickels.

    We don’t ask you to fill out those forms because we like paperwork. Some states, such as Michigan (where I live and work), license us as healthcare providers and require a certain amount of paperwork. Barring that legal requirement, most massage therapists would be asking you the same questions because knowing your health history allows us to make better informed choices as to the techniques, pressure, and products we will use.
    Here’s a short list of just a few of the things we ask, and why:

    1. Medications – Between side effects and the desired effects of medications, there are many modifications to technique or pressure that we may have to make during a session, and we can’t make those modifications if we don’t what meds you’re taking. Some of the products we use may need to be re-evaluated as well, if their effects will either interfere with or enhance the effects of your meds. Suffice it to say, we don’t ask about the meds you’re taking to be nosy or to have an excuse to turn you away, we ask in an effort to give you the best and safest possible massage experience.
    2. Allergies – Please list everything, including medication and food allergies. We have ingredient lists for all the products we use and many contain oils and extracts from plants that are either edible or are used to make or mimic medications. Failing to list your allergies could land you in the back of an ambulance with an allergic reaction. Here’s a quick story to illustrate my point: I often use a massage oil that has a small amount of ginger extract in it to relax muscle spasm and relieve pain, among other things. I had a client who was in pain and I asked if it would be ok to use some ginger essential oil. (I always make sure the client is OK with EOs that day before using them) She replied that she was allergic to ginger… this wasn’t on her health history form and I had already applied the massage oil to her neck and shoulders. So… I quickly removed as much of the oil as I could (thankfully, I don’t use much oil) and she never had a reaction. After the massage, I politely asked her to add ALL of her allergies to her health history form and to check the rest of it for anything she may have missed the first time, or that’s come up since. She happily complied.
    3. Conditions – You may have noticed that massage affects you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even if you haven’t noticed, it does. Massage can also affect your body in more ways than you’re able to consciously be aware of. Because of that, we need to know which medical conditions you have, even if they’re common or not terribly serious.
    4. Contagious areas – Sure, we don’t want to get your athlete’s foot, plantar’s wart, or anything else on our hands because most contagious conditions aren’t limited to one area of the body. If we get something contagious on our hands that means we can’t work, including on you, until it’s cleared up. But just as importantly, if we touch something contagious on one area of your body, it’s highly likely that we’ll spread it to the rest of your body. And I know that you don’t want that.
    5. Injuries and surgeries – Scars can impact your entire body, even little ones. Even ones that are decades old. If massage isn’t helping your issues, it might be worth looking at scar release. We can’t suggest scar release if we don’t know you have them.

    I hope this helps you understand, just a little bit better, why we ask you to fill out a health history form and why it’s as detailed as it is.

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