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Jan 27, 2023

A client has frequent ear infections, including now while he’s awaiting a prescription of antibiotics. He wants massage for his neck and shoulders. He has a history of a ruptured eardrum and several surgeries. And by the way, he’s a surfer. 

Usually, we say that massage and acute infections don’t really go together. But this client seems fine—he gets these infections often and they don’t impact his daily living.

Is that a go-ahead for massage? Maybe, maybe not.




Books of Discovery:  


Host Bio:        


Ruth Werner is a former massage therapist, a writer, and an NCBTMB-approved continuing education provider. She wrote A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, now in its seventh edition, which is used in massage schools worldwide. Werner is also a long-time Massage & Bodywork columnist, most notably of the Pathology Perspectives column. Werner is also ABMP’s partner on Pocket Pathology, a web-based app and quick reference program that puts key information for nearly 200 common pathologies at your fingertips. Werner’s books are available at And more information about her is available at   


Recent Articles by Ruth:       


“Working with Invisible Pain,” Massage & Bodywork magazine, November/December 2022, page 36,


“Unpacking the Long Haul,” Massage & Bodywork magazine, January/February 2022, page 35,


“Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy and Massage Therapy,” Massage & Bodywork magazine, September/October 2021, page 33,


“Pharmacology Basics for Massage Therapists,” Massage & Bodywork magazine, July/August 2021, page 32,    




Pocket Pathology:


Ear: Anatomy, Facts & Function (no date) Cleveland Clinic. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2023).


Ear anatomy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Image (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2023).


Landefeld, K. et al. (2022) Surfer’s Ear, StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2023).


Ruptured eardrum (perforated eardrum) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2023).


Swimmer’s Ear (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 20 January 2023).


‘What is Surfer’s Ear? | SurfEars’ (2018), 18 May. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2023).