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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 122-123

Thai traditional massage: Issues causing possible adverse effects


Public Health Curriculum, Surin Rajabhat University, Surin, Thailand; Tropical Medicine Unit, Hainan Medical University, Haikou, China

Date of Web Publication14-Dec-2015

Correspondence Address:
Viroj Wiwanitkit
Surin Rajabhat University, Surin, Thailand

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0257-7941.171677

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  Abstract 

Thai traditional massage is a widely used massage technique in Thailand and is presently accepted by local Thai Ministry of Public Health. The technique is promoted but not well accepted internationally. There is a concern about the effectiveness as well as safety of this local wisdom. After a recent episode of concurrent acute heart attack and Thai traditional massage in a patient, the issue of possible adverse effects of Thai traditional massage is being widely discussed.

Keywords: Adverse effect, Thai, traditional massage


How to cite this article:
Wiwanitkit V. Thai traditional massage: Issues causing possible adverse effects. Ancient Sci Life 2015;35:122-3

How to cite this URL:
Wiwanitkit V. Thai traditional massage: Issues causing possible adverse effects. Ancient Sci Life [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Jul 18];35:122-3. Available from: http://www.ancientscienceoflife.org/text.asp?2015/35/2/122/171677


  Introduction Top


In the recent report on Thai traditional massage, Yoopat et al. reported their observation on three varieties of Thai traditional massage and concluded that "some forearm fatigue was decreased significantly among the three massage techniques."[1] In fact, Thai traditional massage is a widely used massage technique in Thailand and is presently accepted by the Thai Ministry of Public Health. The technique can be described to be a kind of acupressure massage. Kumnerddee noted that Thai traditional massage was effective in bringing about muscle relaxation but that the technique was inferior to the worldwide well-known Chinese acupuncture.[2]

The technique is promoted but not widely accepted internationally. There is a concern about the effectiveness as well as safety of this local wisdom. After a recent episode of concurrent acute heart attack and Thai traditional massage in a patient, the issue of possible adverse effects of Thai traditional massage is being widely discussed.


  Indexed Death Case of a Patient Who Underwent Thai Traditional Massage Top


In May 2015, there were reports of a death case of a patient who had undergone Thai traditional massage.[3] The patient is reported to be a 37 year old Thai female who underwent Thai traditional massage and subsequently developed acute heart attack. The same was confirmed by the final autopsy report which indicated the cause of death to be myocardial infarction. The publicity led to a debate as to whether the death was due to Thai traditional massage. The Director General of the Department of Thai Traditional and Complementary Medicine (DTAM) stated that this was only a coincidence.


  Possible Adverse Effect of Thai Traditional Massage Top


The possible adverse effect of Thai traditional massage is an issue to be discussed. The question to be addressed is whether Thai traditional massage could cause any problem to cardiovascular system. A recent report by Buttagat et al. found that Thai traditional massage "was associated with significant increases in hear rate variability (increased total power frequency and high frequency)."[4] Hence, it is no doubt that the massage might alter some cardiac function and can be problematic in the patients with underlying cardiovascular disease.

There may be other possible adverse effects which need to be focussed upon, such as the risk of fracture due to rough massage. One example is a report from Malaysia on serious spine fracture resulting in spinal cord compression due to traditional massage (Malaysia is a country geographically close to Thailand and shares a few traditional medical practices).[5] There can also be neurological side effects due to massage and need investigation. Although there has never been any official report about this, the problem of brain hemorrhage in infants due to traditional massage applied to the mothers during pregnancy has been reported.[6],[7] In fact, application of traditional massage to infants can directly cause testes hemorrhage and such other internal hemorrhages in infants.[8] Finally, the risk of embolism due to applying massage to carotid area needs to be mentioned.[9] This can be the cause of cardiac arrhythmias and cerebrovascular accidents [10] that can further result in sudden death (in the latest indexed case, this cannot be rule out to be a cause). It will be of interest to note that in the present clinical practice, there are no guidelines for the practitioners for history taking and monitoring of vital signs of the patient before, during and after massage.


  Challenges in the Present Clinical Practice of Thai Traditional Massage Top


Although there is a standardized system of training Thai traditional medicine in Thailand the control of medical practice is not well guided by local governmental agencies.[11],[12] This has led to a situation where laypersons without degrees are practising Thai traditional massage. Although a legal framework to control of Thai massage medical centers and massage shops is available, the massage is also widely conducted in other settings without control. Also, since Thai traditional massage has ethnic and cultural connections, people tend to accept it out of belief, not knowledge. Standardization of the massage is an issue and when done, it can bring about greater acceptance of the massage system.


  Conclusion Top


Similar to any other medical practice, there may be adverse effects of Thai traditional massage and it is an issue which needs to be studied further. Strict control of Thai traditional massage governmental agencies is needed and there needs to be standardization of the practice.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Yoopat P, Maes C, Poriau S, Vanwonterghem K. Thai traditional massage: Efficiency-assessment of three traditional massage methods on office workers: An explorative study. J Bodyw Mov Ther 2015;19:246-52.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Kumnerddee W. Effectiveness comparison between Thai traditional massage and Chinese acupuncture for myofascial back pain in Thai military personnel: A preliminary report. J Med Assoc Thai 2009;92 Suppl 1:S117-23.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Editor, Thai VISA News. Available from: http://www.news.thaivisa.com/thailand/dtam-insists-thai-massage-did-not- kill-a-37-year-old-woman/62443/. [Last accessed on 2015 May 30].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Buttagat V, Eungpinichpong W, Chatchawan U, Kharmwan S. The immediate effects of traditional Thai massage on heart rate variability and stress-related parameters in patients with back pain associated with myofascial trigger points. J Bodyw Mov Ther 2011;15:15-23.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Sahathevan R, Tan HJ, Abdullah S, Shahizon AM, Hamidon BB, Raymond AA. Spinal cord compression following traditional confinement massage. Med J Malaysia 2011;66:495-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Becroft DM, Gunn TR. Prenatal cranial haemorrhages in 47 Pacific Islander infants: Is traditional massage the cause? N Z Med J 1989;102:207-10.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Becroft DM, Gunn TR. Intracranial haemorrhages in Pacific Islander stillbirths: Is traditional massage the cause? N Z Med J 1985;98:18-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
[PUBMED]    
8.
Ram SP, Kyaw K, Noor AR. Haematoma testes due to traditional massage in a neonate. Trop Doct 1994;24:81-2.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]    
9.
Karnik R, Winkler WB, Valentin A, Khaffaf N, Slany J. Carotid sinus massage and the risk of cerebral embolization. Stroke 1995;26:1124-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
[PUBMED]    
10.
Beal MF, Park TS, Fisher CM. Cerebral atheromatous embolism following carotid sinus pressure. Arch Neurol 1981;38:310-2.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]    
11.
Disayavanish C, Disayavanish P. Introduction of the treatment method of Thai traditional medicine: Its validity and future perspectives. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 1998;52 Suppl 1:S334-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Subcharoen P. Thai traditional medicine in the new millennium. J Med Assoc Thai 2004;87 Suppl 4:S52-7.  Back to cited text no. 12
    




 

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  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
Indexed Death Ca...
Possible Adverse...
Challenges in th...
Conclusion
References

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