Alternative Treatment to Arthritis

Case Study by Gemma Quinn, 14th July 2005.

Esther Midson was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis two and a half years ago. Living in Hertfordshire at the time her GP diagnosed medication to ease the pain but she said, “I wasn’t happy taking tablets so I took myself off them and learnt to live with it.

Originally from Holland she decided to ‘live with it’ in warmer climates and emigrated to Spain last August where she met John Young, a sports massage therapist from the Massage and Rehabilitation Clinic at Villa Martin, Southern Spain. John attempts to look below the surface problem and finds that many common ailments, such as arthritis, are actually originating from other causes, which he says can be considerably eased through the use of lymphatic drainage.

He says when Esther approached him she had two complaints, one with her fingers and hands, the other her feet. He proceeded to carry out a series of range of motion tests to find out what the problems were and to find out where and what pain she was suffering, after finding the thumb and forefinger very tight he traced the origin of the problem to the neck.

“The nerves that service the thumb and forefinger originate in the neck, I then palpated the neck area to find out which muscles were causing the nerve impingement and proceeded to deal with the offending muscle which were the posterior and anterior scalene muscles, I also found that Esther had a problem related to the anterior scalene and the pictorialis minor trapping a vein and causing further nerve impingement and poor circulation to the hands and fingers. By using a mixture of deep tissue massage and lymphatic drainage massage therapy we managed to free the trapped nerve and clear the area allowing free and unrestricted motion to her hands.”

Esther has had four sessions with John and although admitting it can be a very painful experience at times, it is effective, and says she could actually feel her thumb loosening up and improving during the treatment, “You feel the heat going through, and my thumb and fingers became much less stiff.”

As for the problem that Esther has with her feet this has greatly cleared but still requires further treatments to finally eradicate the problem, John adds, “I am sure with further massage and remedial exercise this will also become a problem of the past. The beauty of clinical massage is that you can actually alter the shape of the body by allowing muscles that were tight and short to return to their original length and lymphatic drainage massage clears the surrounding local tissues of waste products that were probably the cause of the muscle tension, this then releases the muscle tension causing the pain.”

When arriving for a consultation a simple questionnaire is completed to give John an overview of the person’s health to enable him to spot trouble areas, “I’m looking for what they have done in the past, what they are doing in the present, what their job is, what their stress levels are like etc. It all helps me to build a picture of where the pain has come from, is it related to an old accident or a work related injury?”

He explains that there are two types of pain in the body, chemical and mechanical, “If you wake in the morning with a pain in your back, unless you fell out of bed causing that pain, it is likely to have been brought on by a chemical condition overnight, so my first port of call is the lymphatic system. If I cannot find any problems here I will then look to see if the problems are coming from elsewhere.”

Before setting up his practice in Villa Martin two years ago, the therapist worked for a period of years years in Southern California, where he says the weather patterns are similar to those here on the Costa Blanca, resulting in him seeing clients with similar problems to those he dealt with in the United States, adding that it is no myth that the sunshine helps ease those common complaints, “People come out here with aches and pains in their bones, they react to the warm weather which dries them out and gets rid of the damp.” However this ‘drying out’ can cause the body to become dehydrated if people do not drink enough water, which, according to John, causes a plethora of other problems, “It can lead to a build-up of metabolic waste products that cause problems of their own as they are pollutants to the body when trapped. Most of the people that come to see me, like Esther, drink too much tea, coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks and not enough water, without adequate water all the systems in the body become compromised. It affects the PH levels in the body and like a garden when the PH is in imbalance so is the whole body.”

He believes that in the last five years more people in the UK and USA saw alternative therapists rather than their GP’s as more and more people realise the benefits on offer. Whilst people can see other therapists to deal with the pain John explains that many people may not be aware that the underlying cause is a lymphatic problem, which won’t be dealt with through normal massage, “Most people come here after trying other therapists with well-established pain that is a compilation of use and abuse over the years. If it is a lymphatic problem then the muscles need clearing out and we work complementary to other forms of therapy.”

Full lymphatic draining can last around 2 hours a session but John says it depends on individuals, “Some people clear up easily but every individual is very different. It is the therapist that carries out the therapy by stimulating the system they are working on, but it is the individual that heals themselves not the therapist, their body then has to deal with their specific problem. People say therapists are healers, I don’t agree, I don’t heal people, I help direct the body to recognise that it has a problem enabling it to get itself back into line.

You have to take responsibility for your own healing, nobody can heal you except yourself. All you do is create a dependency on other people. It’s as if there is a need to blame someone else if it doesn’t work. There is definitely a dependency on the pharmaceuticals company’s and the drugs that they produce, not only by the users of these drugs but also by the dispensers of the drugs as well. There is so much money involved that everyone seems to turn a blind eye that they are not working. It’s the Kings Clothes story all over again.”

Esther concludes, “It has definitely helped me, but it may not help everyone.”


What are the benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

  • The benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage are considerable and are particularly relevant in today’s environment where pollution, stress and deficient immune systems make many people susceptible to illness and infections.
  • The lymphatic system plays a vital role in the body by regulating the immune system. When the lymphatic system becomes blocked, lymphatic fluid builds up and stagnates causing the entire system to become toxic.
  • Lymphatic Drainage clears blockages, eliminates metabolic wastes and toxins from the body, transports nutrients to cells and increases metabolic efficiency, all adding to the reduction of excess fluid and assisting weight reduction. It also has a calming effect on the nervous system and helps relieve stress and tension.