The Itch You Just Can't Scratch Away

My introduction to Brachioradial Pruritis (or BRP) was on July 27, 2011. Mary (name is changed for privacy and confidentiality) came to me as her "last resort" treatment option after battling BRP on and off for 7 years. As a massage therapist, I listened and tried to be compassionate all the while feeling challenged, puzzled and confused. How would massage help with itching? What exactly is BRP? It is an intense itching sensation in the arm usually between shoulder and elbow of either or both arms and is sometimes combined with burning or pain sensations. The most common spot is at the top of the forearm (overlying the brachioradialis muscle) and it can also spread to back and chest. It is a rare disease found most often in women aged 39-72. Rashes, bleeding, bruises, eczema and scarring only occur after chronic scratching. The causes of this mysterious disease are highly debated. The first idea is that it's nerve damage from overexposure to the sun which makes more likely to be a seasonal occurrence. It could also be at least partially due to neuropathy from cervical spine degeneration, osteoarthritis, rib, tumor, and/or nerve compression. Another theory is that BRP is a combination of sun-induced nerve damage and underlying peripheral nerve damage. This theory explains why there are variations in the degree of severity between patients. A complex, almost unknown causation leads to a vague diagnosis and temporary, unsuccessful treatments. Diagnosing Brachioradial Pruritis is based on signs and symptoms as well as the "ice pack sign", application of an ice pack to the affected area decrease the itching. Doctors may also address a history of sun exposure, possible nerve or spinal injury or family history of BRP, MRI, and a dermatological exam of a skin biopsy. Typical treatment options are ice, acupuncture, cervical spine manipulation, cooling lotions and crimes and NSAID's. The most important advice is to avoid sun exposure with clothing which is better than sunscreen. I would like to add to the list therapeutic massage therapy. What I hope to do in the next couple of blog posts is portray a on-going journey for Mary and me as we try to "unpeel" the layers to understanding BRP and work together in hopes of discovering a possible cure for the itch that you just can't scratch away. References Medscape-Brachioradial Pruritus treatment and management Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Dr. Benabio (online case study)

What I Love About Summer!

As I floated in the pool tonight, I realized that I do enjoy a few of the benefits of summer. I know that I complain about having a heat-induced coma by 10:00 am and the sky-rocketed electric bills, but there are a few perks to summer.

Strawberries, peaches and watermelon- oh my! (and yummy) The fruits and vegetables are amazing during the warmer months and I love me some fresh squash, zucchini and corn. A great crisp, fresh salad for lunch and frozen blueberries in my cereal for breakfast. Yum!


Summer is a time for vacation fun with family and friends. Long weekends, afternoons off or a week or two away help relax the mind, body and spirit. Whether it's a trip to the beach, a


 cruise or just time away from work, any vacation refreshes, calms and rejuvenates. (Don't forget a massage on your vacation!)


Freshly cut grass--Pool time--Hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill--Sunscreen--Ice cold lemonade (or sweet tea)-- Beach balls--Summer time is here!!

What's Your Favorite Kind of Massage?

Most of the massages I do are uniquely me or as I call them, therapeutic massages. They are a combination of deep tissue and Swedish relaxation, it's the best of both worlds. If the client is really tight or needs a little extra de-stressing, I like to throw in some hot stones or hot towels. :-)


There are hundreds of different kinds and styles of massage though. 
Everything from Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage to aromatherapy massage, 
from reflexology to prenatal (or pregnancy)massage, from Thai massage to sports massage.
As a massage therapist, the hard part is finding your niche in the wide wide world of massage all the while putting your spin or style into it. This all came to mind as I am trying to decide what CEU (continuing education unit) or class to take next and I am overwhelmed with options and ideas.

Last year, I had the awesome opportunity to take all my classes on a 7 day cruise with Royal Carribean and it was cool. Not enough vacation for me, but it was a nice business write off. I learned all about lympathic massage, marketing massage and tax tips while cruising in the middle of the Carribean. (my husband enjoyed pina coladas at the pool and naps back in our room while I was in class!)

So what to take next? So many classes, so little time and money! What's your favorite massage?

I Heart LessConf 2011

I heart Less Conference 2011!

This is my third year doing chair massage at Less Conference and it is always a blast!

I can't help but be SO proud of my creative, hilarious brother Allan Branch and his genius, crazy business partner Steve Bristol who put together such a great conference full of inspiration business speakers and fun activities (like a "snack time" of milk and cookies and a musical visit from an ice cream truck!). I can't tell you much about the speakers because I am always busy working on a few people who take a quick break or I'm helping set up/clean up, but everyone always raves about them. :-) The guys (and a few token girls) who come to this conference are great and it's so cool to help relax their neck and back muscles overworked from too much computer time. For this humble massage therapist, what they talk about sounds like Greek to me, but I try to keep up with them as much as possible. If you are on Twitter, check out #lessconf and read all about it or see some rockin' pictures on Facebook under LessConf. 

Check out some cool websites below! Go Geek or GO HOME! :-)


This Makes Me Smile

Last month, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked massage therapy one of its top 10 careers for 2011. U.S. News and World Report named massage therapy one of the 50 best careers.

In fact, more growth is expected in massage therapy than most other industries over the next decade. The U.S. Labor Department estimates an expansion of almost 20 percent, with the addition of 23,200 jobs by 2018.

The American Massage Therapy Association reported that, in 2009, the industry was worth between $16 and $20 billion, up from $6 to $11 billion in 2005.

From July 2008 through July 2009, an estimated 48 million American adults received at least one massage.


"One of the reasons why complementary modalities are becoming so popular is people are just tired of being sent home with a pill," she said. "Whereas when you work with complementary therapists, it's more about engaging in the treatment yourself. People also cannot afford $1,000 a month for some drugs that are being prescribed with surgery."

Others may turn to massage therapy to avoid the side effects of conventional medication, said Mike Hovi, Illinois chapter president for the American Massage Therapy Association.

"Look at all the commercials on TV for drugs," he said. "You hear what the drug can do and then listen to all the side effects, everything from a heart attack to strokes, to death to suicidal tendencies. Well, there are no real side effects to doing massage."

**This makes me smile! I have been a massage therapist for almost four years now and I preach about this all the time. I know when times are hard, everyone is pinching their pennies, but even beyond the wonderful effects massage has right after you get one, think about what future issues or problems you may be preventing or decreasing in the long run. I think about it a lot when I go for acupuncture and I have to sacrifice the cash or check every visit. Don't get me wrong...I still think Western medicine has it's place. If you break a bone, don't come running to me first! :-) But I feel like our society is so quick to look for that magic pill or that surgery that will solve everything when it doesn't. I read somewhere and I wish I had the name of the guy who wrote it, but he wrote, "When you have a headache, its your body trying to tell you something, not that you have an aspirin deficiency."

These facts are copied from


Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients


Alicia D Massage Therapy – Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

**written by Samantha Harris,**

Standard cancer therapies like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery are extremely difficult on the body, and can cause side effects that are nearly as difficult to live with as the cancer itself. Recently, massage therapy has been proposed as a palliative treatment to reduce pain and make the patient more comfortable. While no one is claiming that massage alone can cure cancer, it can be a useful treatment for those looking for relief from symptoms of mesothelioma or other cancers.

The Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, recommends massage therapy as a complement to standard cancer treatment. The center’s website points out that massage can improve circulation and relaxation while reducing stress. Rubbing muscles causes blood vessels to dilate, which in turn promotes the distribution of oxygen in the bloodstream throughout the body. The American Cancer Society notes that massage is good for the spirit as well as the body, enhancing quality of life and increasing well-being. The Moores Cancer Center does caution patients to forgo massages immediately after traditional cancer treatments. The therapist should avoid performing massage over areas of known tumors, bruises, tissue damage, or sites of inflammation or infection.

Surprisingly, receiving a massage is not the only way to receive benefits from the practice – giving a massage is helpful, too. One 1998 study from the Journal of Applied Gerontology asked elderly volunteers to give massages to infant children. These volunteers had a greater reduction in both stress hormones and doctor visits in comparison with elderly patients who had actually received massages. While this study did not research the particular effects of giving massages on cancer, doctors agree that physical touch is a crucial factor in establishing social support, which in turn is an integral part of recovery and well-being.

Sadly, there are times when even standard treatments will not be effective against certain types of cancer. Mesothelioma life expectancy, in particular, is poor, with only about 10% of patients surviving for five years after diagnosis. In these cases, massage therapy can be used to provide relief from pain and make the patient comfortable for the remainder of his or her life. A good massage therapist will be able to communicate with the cancer patient, whatever his or her health status, to create a plan for therapy that will be most beneficial.

*thanks Samantha for submitting a very compelling and informative article! Hopefully, we will enjoy many more in the future!*

Massage Brings More than Just Relaxation

by: Sheryl Walters

(NaturalNews) The tremendous benefits of regular massage are irreplaceable to the human body. Massage is a variety of sometimes ancient techniques that manipulate the soft tissues of the body. It can definitely relax you, but there are some benefits of massage that go far beyond relaxation.

Pain and anxiety are two common problems associated with receiving massage therapy. By soothing muscles and nerves a greater state of well being is achieved for the recipient. When you take this concept further you find that massage can also benefit chronic pain and even self esteem. Massage allows for person to person contact that promotes feelings of comfort and soothing.

Medically massage is used for sports related injuries and to promote optimum performance of muscles. Through a pattern of exercise and massage, injuries can be avoided and greater athletic achievements can be accomplished. The regular massage prevents small injuries from becoming bigger ones and the athlete avoids the pain cycle all together. Massage is also an immune system enhancer that benefits patients with chronic immune system diseases like HIV. Increasing the circulation of healthy blood cells in the body helps these patients fight off disease better and keep a more positive mental attitude that is crucial for their survival.

Infants and babies have shown positive responses to massage through toddlerhood. The birthing process is often made easier and less complicated by regular massage during pregnancy and throughout the labor process. Massage for premature babies promotes better weight gain, and massage for babies with diabetes correlates with better lifelong compliance with regimens and healthier lifestyle choices.

The effects of massage on patients with high blood pressure should also not be overlooked. Massage can play a key part in the regulation and control of chronic high blood pressure by not only relaxing the patient, but also by helping the central nervous system to balance as it regulates blood flow throughout the body more efficiently. Regular massage combined with isometric exercise has been shown to improve both the blood pressure and blood regulation in patients.

Massage Therapy is a technique that can benefit a great number of people with a wide variety of complaints both physical and mental. This form of therapy can be incorporated into a balanced and healthy lifestyle to promote continuous and further health and well being as well as to be used as treatment therapy for those with chronic mental and physical conditions.

About the author
Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner.
Her website provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous. 
You can also find some of the most powerful super foods on the planet including raw chocolate, purple corn, and many others.

~I thought this article was a nice overview of a few of the main benefits of massage. I understand completely that the economy isn't so hot, stress is high, there's no time left in the day, but all of those excuse are GREAT reasons TO get a massage. Your health is worth it!~