[André Dekker, certified massage therapist in Oulu]

My inexplicable pain

In 1997 I started suffering pain in one of my fingers. The occupational health physician said the finger was inflamed, probably because of working at the computer. She prescribed me an anti-inflammatory cream. Initially it looked like the cream, together with some ergonomic adaptations, cured the finger. However, occasionally the pain came back. Later it became stabbing, like nerve pain. Thus the physician prescribed me pills against nerve pain, but they barely provided relief. In 2004, during an intercontinental flight, the pain became excruciating. I kept on rubbing cream, but it did not do any good. However, walking made the pain disappear completely. After a walk through the airport, it did not even hurt when a finger print was taken, even though it was taken right at the spot that had been hurting most in the airplane. Immediately after returning home, I demanded referral to a specialist. The hand surgeon suspected a small tumor in the finger. Indeed, the pain was provoked by tapping exactly the right spot with e.g. the blunt side of a knife. But the strange thing was that the pain could also be induced in many other ways, which apparently had nothing to do with the finger. It seemed that the main cause was somewhere else than in the finger.

Relief through massage

For several months the pain remained so bad, that I had great difficulty to fall asleep and often the pain woke me up at night. I searched on the internet for everything that could be related to finger pain. When my ailment started, only very little information was available from the web, but now I finally found the explanation for my symptoms. Muscles can send their pain to other places. That pain can be very intense and imitate the pain of much more serious conditions. But the internet did not provide enough information to find the involved muscles and to treat them effectively and safely. Thus I ordered books about the subject. Finally I found a whole chain of muscles between finger and neck, which all sent their pain to the same place. By massaging certain spots in those muscles, so called trigger points, the pain disappeared, at least for some time. This massage worked better than any medicine I had ever tried and it worked instantly. It was a terrific feeling. No longer was the pain my master, but I was the master of the pain. But after all, the tiny tumor from my finger had to be removed before the trigger points were willing to quiet down for a longer period of time.

Fuga Massage Therapy

The beneficial effect of massage on my finger pain motivated me to keep reading on massage and to practice it at every possible occasion. I attended an evening class at a massage school in Oulu. After getting certified as massage therapist, I started my own practice, which I called Fuga Massage Therapy. "Fuga" is the original Latin word for fugue, a musical composition in which the same theme is passed on from one voice part to the other, just as in the human body each movement needs the cooperation of many muscles in the right rhythm. If this cooperation is disturbed, this leads to pain and reduced range of motion. I hope that my clients will benefit from my special knowledge and skills and that I can continue to develop via the interaction with my clients. For the time being this is my second job, which I only practice in the evenings and the weekends. I support my family as a technical specialist at Nokia Siemens Networks. The variation between two totally different kinds of work helps to sustain energy and motivation in both jobs.

Lifelong learning

My first education was at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Initially I worked for five years as an engineer in the Netherlands, but since 1986 I have worked for Nokia in Finland. I am used to learning. In engineering today's knowledge is not enough for tomorrow. Also in massage there is always more to learn. It is like peeling an onion. Everybody knows the outer skin, where you feel the pain or other complaints. In the basic massage training you learn to treat pain in this skin and only in the muscles. This treatment distracts the nervous system, so that the brain forgets the pain for a moment. To treat my own finger pain, I had to find the next skin, where the pain hides itself at a quite different place then where you feel it. When you drive the pain away from this skin, the effect lasts for a longer time. However, for a permanent improvement you must often treat a third skin. Here lies the hidden tension that overloads the body. Much of this tension is contained in the fascia, that is the connective issue that covers all structures in the body, like the muscles, tendons, joints, nerves, bones and inner organs. Via the fascia all parts of the body are connected to each other and react to each other. The fascia requires quite different massage techniques than the muscles. The technique is also determined by the postural deviations of the client. I have learned these massage techniques in weekend courses of the Kinesis institute and from osteopathic text books. As a Dutchman I have obtained a good command of foreign languages, which is a great advantage in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills.