Is the prone position during massage harmful or do the benefits of therapeutic massage outweigh the risks?
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10 weeks ago
Lemon • 10
@lemon

Have any FitEyes members tested their IOP during/after therapeutic massage? I used to get 1-hour massages from a registered massage therapist regularly, but since diagnosis I am concerned about being in the prone position for a lengthy period. Do any of you have any insight or advice?

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10 weeks ago
david 4.1k
@david_fe

Have any FitEyes members tested their IOP during/after therapeutic massage?

Yes, I have taken my iCare tonometer with me and used it immediately before and after a therapeutic massage several times. I collected enough data to get a very solid understanding of how therapeutic massages affect my IOP.

I used to get 1-hour massages from a registered massage therapist regularly, but since diagnosis I am concerned about being in the prone position for a lengthy period. Do any of you have any insight or advice?

You are right to be concerned. When I did my IOP measurements, I found my intraocular pressure to be significantly elevated after a massage.

I found a couple possible solutions:

  • One solution is to take a short-acting glaucoma eye drop about 20-30 minutes before the therapeutic massage session. My glaucoma specialist was in agreement with this option and gave me an eye drop I could use. This option seems satisfactory if one is receiving therapeutic massages weekly or monthly because the amount of extra medication used it minimal in that scenario.

  • I also learned that there are massage technique that do not require the prone position. They are regularly employed for pregnant women, people with certain injuries and others who cannot lie on their stomach. I tried this approach and found it to be a viable solution for me as well. I enjoy "regular" messages slightly more, but the difference is not significant.

It would be best if you measure your own IOP, however. You could rent a tonometer for just a week or two, if needed. (FitEyes recommends www.enlivened.com, and they offer a discount for FitEyes members.) There individual differences in how a therapeutic massage might affect our IOP. Interestingly, therapeutic massage (and the prone position in general) do not increase my IOP as much as they used to. This is a recent change and it seems related to some new dietary supplements I'm taking. I would not have known how my body / IOP changed recently without the ability to check my IOP with my tonometer. I've been doing self-tonometry for over 16 years and I continue to gain valuable information from it. There will be a day when almost all glaucoma patients monitor their own IOP the way most diabetes patients monitor their blood glucose today.

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