Pathologies Again

Published on 22nd October 2020


As we go through some common pathologies (diseases and disorders) that we may come across as therapists think about the less common ones too. Find out if they are contra-indications to your particular therapy. (That means the therapy is inadvisable at it could worsen the condiiton or be potentially dangerous). A good example of a contra-indication is varicose veins for massage. A massage could dislodge a blood clot from the brain and cause it to travel to the heart or brain which could be life threatening. 

Remember the golden rule for therapists, If in doubt, don't! 

Respiratory system



Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - This disease has features of both emphysema (in which the alveoli of the lungs are enlarged and damaged) and Bronchitis in which the airways (bronchi) narrow. 


Caused by noxious particles or gas, most commonly from smoking.

Signs and symptoms

Breathlessness which gets progressively worse with time and which does not respond to steroids or other asthma related therapies.

Cystic Fibrosis


So named because it is characterized by scarring within the pancreas.


This disease is hereditary and progressive and usually results in early mortality. It is caused by a lack of a protein (CFTR) in affected individuals and results in the over production of a thick mucus. 

Signs and symptoms

There are many symptoms poor growth, diarrohea, infertility, sinus infections are amongst them…..(markers should be flexible with the list of symptoms as this is a whole body disease) Treatment is by pancreatic enzymes, gene therapy (recent and patients are benefiting), physiotherapy (for breathing) and prevention of secondary infection.



Myocardial infarction:


Commonly known as a heart attack


Some heart muscle dies because of a blockage in a coronary artery or smaller branch – blood clot commonest cause.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms include severe chest pain which may radiate down left arm or up neck into jaw , shortness of breath , nausea nad vomiting , sweating , anxiety

Women slightly less symptoms and commonly shortness of breath , weakness , indigestion and fatigue.

25% of cases are “silent “ – no symptoms

Sickle Cell Anaemia:


Genetic abnormality of red blood cells. Inherited condition affecting mainly people of Afro-caribbean or Asian origins.


Red blood cells become stiff and pointed (sickle shaped) and tend to get stuck in small blood vessels thus reducing or blocking blood flow

Signs and symptoms

Tends to result in acute episodes of intense pain: “ sickle crises” but may cause serious infections, chronic anaemia, damage to body organs, enlarged spleen, stroke



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