Are Massages Off-limits During A Flare?


I just cannot catch a break these days. I’m still flaring, still not feeling well, still anxious and stressed out about the fact that I’m not seeing any changes/improvements. So what do I do? Try and take my own advice. I think, I’ll take a little cash and go treat myself to a nice 50-minute Swedish massage. It’ll help me relax, it’s good for me, it’s doing something kind for my body (so maybe, like, my body will get over itself and heal up already)! All positives, right? I book one for my husband too, because the poor guy is likewise stressed out as my main support-person and care-giver, and he has to listen to me vent. (Have I mentioned that he’s a saint)?

Well, we drive there and as I’m being taken back to the room (blood pressure already beginning to lower at the prospect of these knots in my shoulders being kneaded away) the masseuse is asking me how I’ve been, et cetera, and so I open my big fat mouth. I mention that well, I’ve been better, I have ulcerative colitis. Slam on the brakes!

Apparently–and I’m in the midst of doing some serious digging on this–you can’t have massages while actively flaring. At least, that’s what she told me. That’s their company policy, anyway. Nothing, not even a shoulder massage. It can exacerbate it, make it worsen/spread, and a host of other things. As you can imagine, I was shocked to find this out. It never occurred to me that a massage could be anything but beneficial. And it’s not like she’s ever laid a finger on my actual abdomen. In fact, I’ve never had a massage that involved the front of my torso (save for shoulders). I could see possibly a lower back massage aggravating my flare, but I would have happily told her to skip that and spend more time on my aching shoulders and neck, and my sore joints (loving the joint pain that comes with this by the way). Instead I wandered around the shopping plaza for an hour so my husband could enjoy his massage, and so it wasn’t a wasted trip all around. As it so happens, I discovered that nothing fits me at Loft right now, which also saved me the hassle of completing my online order and then having to return it. I suppose there was some kind of faint, peeling, tarnished “silver” lining in all of this.

What I’d like to know is, has anyone else ever heard of this nonsense? Or, is it not nonsense? Can massages take my ulcerative colitis to a whole other ruinous level? Or are massages harmless during a flare and therefore beneficial? Already I’m finding conflicting evidence online–some holistic sites encourage it, other forums talk about its dangers. I welcome  feedback, personal experiences, whatever you’d like to share, because honestly my mind is still blown. Oh, and my shoulders are still freakin’ killing me. I’m sure that kind of tension is really helping this flare settle down too.

angry face