Dr. Bessie McCann had tried everything for her wrist pain – a soft brace, a thermoplastic brace molded specifically to her hand, athletic tape, and even Asytm therapy. Nothing helped.

When massage therapist Gretchen Schuetter heard about McCann’s plight, she suspected the root cause might not be the wrist at all. “I’ve worked in orthopedics with clients who are on computers all day long. She was doing a lot of charting and driving back and forth at the time,” says Schuetter. “Not only was the pain in her wrist, it was coming from underneath her shoulder blade and pecs as well. I thought she might have some trigger point issues.”

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The three practitioners at Derma Medical Spa offer massage that targets injuries, pain relief, and stress as well as helping with the aftermath of diseases like cancer. Photo courtesy: Derma Medical Spa.

After just one focused massage session, McCann’s pain had been reduced by 75%. After two more, it was gone entirely. “All of the problems that she’d been dealing with for a year were coming from another area and radiating down,” says Schuetter. “It felt like the problem was in her wrist, but it wasn’t in her wrist at all.”

These days Schuetter is one of three massage therapists working at Olympia’s Derma Medical Spa, which McCann owns and operates. While she works on identifying and treating the kinds of chain reactions that come as the result of injuries, her colleague Haunani Atwood specializes in stress relief and relaxation massage, and Tiffany Galindo offers a combination of Swedish and deep tissue.

All three attest to the multiple benefits of massage, from simply releasing stress to zeroing in on specific areas, assisting in cancer recovery, or emotional healing after a trauma.

“I had a cancer patient a few years back who needed very superficial manual lymph drainage,” says Atwood. “The goal was to get her lymph nodes to drain and increase her circulation. I spent an hour on her and she said that after the first treatment her energy level increased dramatically. She’d been very nervous to even get a massage because she was in such a fragile physical state. It felt really good to be able to give her some relief and increase her quality of life during such a challenging time.”

Massage can also improve range of motion and boost overall health by reducing stress levels. “We’re increasing their blood flow,” says Galindo. “When most people get off the table, the first thing they say is that they feel so much better and less stressed.”

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Communication is key to all treatment, with an emphasis on client comfort at Derma Medical Spa. Photo courtesy: Derma Medical Spa.

In some cases massage can evoke a much-needed release. Atwood remembers a client who had recently lost her husband. “She was in that very new state of grieving, but she still wanted to come in. I had her lying face up and was starting to do some neck work.”

Like most people, this woman’s stress was being held in the top of her shoulders and neck as well as her jaw. “Once I started to work on her neck, she just started sobbing,” says Atwood. “I asked her if she needed me to stop, but she said no. Allowing her mind and body to release that emotion was definitely the kind of therapy she needed at that time. Something like that really sticks with you, how important massage can be as far as just touch and releasing emotion.”

Beyond more commonly known forms of massage, Schuetter also offers intra-oral treatments, in which she uses one finger to massage the inner and outer gums and the roof and floor of the mouth. The treatment is most effective for clients suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD), tinnitus, sinus issues, or migraines. “All the swelling and tight muscles release and it helps to clear out sinuses, as well as helping ear and jaw pain,” she says. “People who have clicking and popping and mouths that get stuck open can chew better and open their mouths wider.”

Currently the spa is in the application process to be able to accept Washington State L&I claims and personal injury insurance payments. “Hopefully within the next month we’ll have that up and running,” says spa director Amanda Berg. The process for other types of insurance may take a little bit longer.

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Soon Derma Medical Spa, located in West Olympia, will be accepting L&I claims and personal injury insurance. Photo courtesy: Derma Medical Spa.

With the legislative session getting underway, Derma is offering a discount to all legislative workers. “The legislative session can be so grueling and people have so much stress,” says Berg. Atwood, a former state worker, also hopes to see many of her former colleagues as clients. “I can appreciate what massage does for office workers of all sorts,” she says. “There’s less stress after massage so they’re happier, which is always a good thing because they all work really closely together.”

Schuetter encourages those who have been intimidated to try massage or had a negative experience in the past to give it a try. “You can have a fully clothed massage if that’s your preference,” she says. “We want people to feel comfortable. You’re going to come in and get hooked and feel better.”

For more information about Derma Medical Spa visit www.dermamedispa.com or call 360-350-5231.


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