Doctors warn that a simple massage can cause blood clots to dislodge, which can result in sudden death. Photo: iStock

Traditional oil massages are used to treat several ailments such as sprains. But a mother learned the hard way that this practice can be dangerous. A simple oil massage proved fatal for her 23-year-old son in the Indian capital, prompting the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to issue a warning about unprofessional massages.

The victim injured his left ankle while playing badminton last year, and plaster of Paris was used on his leg. This resulted in a deep-vein blood clot (thrombosis). A postmortem confirmed that the clot, which was 5cm in size, became dislodged and traveled to the pulmonary artery, which supplies blood to the lungs, causing instant death.

Dr Chittaranjan Behera, who conducted the postmortem examination, was quoted as saying that deep vein thrombosis following an ankle fracture is not uncommon, but the sudden death of a young person because of complications arising from it is rare.

The doctor said when the victim was rushed to AIIMS emergency at 9.30pm on October 31, he was unconscious and unresponsive. “Doctors could not revive him despite the best resuscitative efforts. Later, it was found that the victim’s mother had given him a massage for 30 minutes and he complained of pain in the left calf at around 8.45pm. That left him breathless and he suddenly collapsed. This was because the clot in his leg traveled to the arteries that supply blood to the lungs,” Dr Behera was quoted as saying.

His case report has been published in the latest issue of the Medico-Legal Journal. It stated that massages are often given for general fitness and for treating minor health problems. “In this case, the deceased’s mother had massaged the leg to alleviate pain and was unaware of the complications. There was no advice recorded in the hospital by the doctors about the risks and dangers of a massage to this affected leg. This advice should have been provided,” it added.