The Benefits of Therapeutic Massage for Multiple Sclerosis
Published Feb 14, 2018
You can think of massage as a way to relax or relieve tired muscles. But for people with multiple sclerosis, massage can be much more than that.
"We see a change when we help people with MS. They say they feel better, when they move in, "says Nancy Porambo, a licensed massage therapist in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, who specializes in neuromuscular massage therapy.
MS and Muscle Challenges
With MS, the body attacks the covering of the nerves (called the myelin sheath), and optic nerves and spinal column. In most MS patients, this damage occurs in waves or flare-ups, and then goes into remission. In a smaller percentage of MS patients, the attack never stops.
The damage left behind by the attacks and the scars that form the body. This can cause many problems, such as cognitive decline and mood disorders. Damage to the central nervous system also means that they can easily get hurt, hurt and weaken without use. "When you have my sheath, it does not allow for a normal flow of electrical impulses. Movements slow down. It's not coordinated or smooth, "Porambo says.
Resulting muscle problems can lead to trouble walking or holding your arms or using your arms or hands to eat, dress, bathe or use a computer.
How Massage Helps
Therapeutic massage for MS has a physical effect beyond relaxation. Significant benefits for MS patients appear to be reduced spasticity and pain, improved circulation and increased muscle and joint flexibility.
"I have had some patients," says Dr. Robert Shin, a neurologist at MedStar's Georgetown University Hospital in Washington.
Porambo says stress reduction is also an important benefit of therapeutic massage for MS. A small 2016 study suggests that massage therapy has been associated with improved quality of life, along with decreased fatigue and pain.
Massage therapists use compression, pressure, effleurage (long, gliding strokes) and deep, circular movements to increase blood flow to muscles. "It allows the tissues to become hydrated with blood and helps restore normal muscle tone," Porambo explains. "It takes just the right amount of pressure to Induce blood flow, soften tissue and assist in Reducing rigidity."
Reduced spasticity Then Allows for relaxation and pain relief. "The body slows down, and the sympathetic nervous system gets a break, which is rejuvenating and allows the body to heal," Porambo says.
That relaxation also leads to reduced stress. "It calms the body and restores balance," Porambo says. "Sometimes That One hour in therapy is the only quiet time to rejuvenate They Have Themselves physiologically and psychologically."
Types of Massage
Porambo says a massage therapist will first evaluate-the MS patient to find problem areas and determines how to treat them. A therapist may use a number of approaches, such as:
- Swedish massage. "This a lighter massage, the least invasive," Porambo explains. "It uses kneading and effleurage."
- Deep muscle massage, which includes strokes that work deep into the tissues.
- Neuromuscular massage therapy, which focuses on triggering pain and spasm (for example, neck problems that lead to pain in the arms and hands).
Precautions to Consider
Porambo says massage therapy is most effective for people with MS early-stage. "When you get to the late training, spasticity May be harder to reverse," she Explains.
Massage therapy in MS Would Be Inappropriate if you:
- Are experiencing a flare-up "We'd only exacerbate That by going in too deeply, and it could be painful, "Porambo says."
- Struggle with neuropathy - bread, numbness or tingling - in the lower legs and toes. "Pressing too deeply would not be helpful," Porambo explains.
According to the National MS Society, massage may also be unsafe for people with swelling (edema), osteoporosis (brittle bones that break easily), ulcers or an enlarged liver or spleen. People with cancer, arthritis, heart disease or recent injuries should also check with their physicians before continuing massage therapy.
Otherwise, massage therapy appears to be safe and helpful. "As long as the massage therapist is reputable and as long as the patient is in relatively good physical condition, I would not have any concerns about the treatment," Shin says.
What to Look For
If you're interested in pursuing therapeutic massage for MS, get the green light from your doctor first. Then, look for a massage therapist who is trained to work with people with MS. "A trained therapist will know how much pressure is needed and the depths of tolerance are not overstimulated," Porambo says.
She also points out that massage is just one component of feeling better. Exercising, eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep and taking care of MS. "Managing MS can be stressful," Porambo says. "Massage therapy can help people on many levels."
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