My daddy just turned 60 years old, is very active with his exercise, for the most part eats a healthy diet, and he gets at very least a monthly massage for his wellness. And in December he almost died.
A few months ago my daddy came to me with pain in his leg. He thought maybe he injured it whilst running on the beach. I had a few minutes to spare and work on his glutes, hamstrings, and quads. He got momentary relief. But it was still there so he saw his regular therapist and got a nice 90 minute deep tissue massage. He felt much better. He went to a work conference to Las Vegas shortly after. My mommy is a flight attendant so we are experience with frequent travel so a short flight to Las Vegas is nothing. Of course my daddy is 6’2” and was flying coach so he did make sure to get up a walk around the cabin to keep circulation in his legs going. Upon arrival in Las Vegas he felt a little short of breath but attributed it to altitude and environment change. Returned from Las Vegas a few days later and noticed the pain in his leg had returned. Chalking it up to traveling he brushed it off. One week later he was in the ER having thrown 2 Pulmonary Embolisms (PE). The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute defines a PE is when a blood clot deep in the vein can break loose and travel to the lungs. If my mommy had not noticed that one of his calves was significantly larger than the other (from the swelling), he could have been dead.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein usually in the legs and often times can go undetected. The following are some of the risk factors of someone who might be susceptible to DVT
History of a blood clotting disorder or a family history of DVT
Prolonged inactivity or immobility
Overweight or Obesity
Inflammatory Bowel Disorders
Age (60 or older)
A PE can damage the lungs as well as be fatal so it is important to be aware of the symptoms. The following were listed on the Mayo Clinic website as warning signs or symptoms of DVT.
Sudden onset or unexplained shortness of breath
Lightheaded or dizziness
Rapid heart rate
Coughing up blood
Chest pain that worsens when you take a deep breath
Looking back, did my daddy injure himself on the beach? Maybe. But he definitely exhibited risk factors as well as already showing symptoms of having thrown a blood clot. He was about to turn 60, though being physically active he is still slightly overweight, he spent several hours on an airplane, and he had sudden onset shortness of breath. If that was not enough, it turns out he also had a secondary condition that can accompany DVT. I mentioned that my mommy noticing his calf was slightly larger than the other. This was due to edema, or swelling. The affected calf was also a shiny bright red color, and very noticeable on his fair skin. They Mayo Clinic cites this as damage to your veins from the clot and is called Postphlebetic Syndrome. It can also include skin sores, and leg pain. More symptoms that my daddy was showing.
You might ask, why is any of this important? Well this is important because, in my daddy’s case in particular he loves massages and having DVT will affect your eligibility for massages.
Due to the severity of DVT, we are taught in massage school and the American Massage Therapy Association list DVT as a local contraindication for massage. That means no massage in the area of the clot. Especially to the lower extremities as that is where most of DVT occurs. Massaging someone who has DVT can cause a clot to break loose, and that is definitely something that we want to avoid. This is why it is ever important for you to know the risks and symptoms of DVT as it will help us with our general assessment if you are an eligible candidate for massage.
Unfortunately for my Daddy he is currently on the “no massage” list, is on blood thinners, and wearing a compression sock. But his tests keep coming back more and more positive. Hopefully it will not be long before he is able to get his massages again.