Massage Therapy – A Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

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Multiple Sclerosis in simple terms is a condition that affects coating of your central nervous system which includes the brain and the spinal cord. This condition is basically inflammation of tissues (myelin) that covers the brain. The severity of this inflammation would vary depending upon condition of each individual but MS sufferers have their immune system, cranial nervous, brain and spinal cord at risk. In severe cases, this condition can lead to complete nerve damage too.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis:

MS affects your nerves and produce different symptoms including:

  • Weakness and muscle pains
  • Mobility problems
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Fatigue etc.

Could Massage Help MS Sufferers:

Complete cure of MS would need proper medication but many of the patients have found massage therapy to prove helpful as a complementary treatment for control over symptoms associated with this condition.

How Massage Helps?

  • Most of the Multiple Sclerosis patients suffer from pain that includes facial pain, limbs burning sensation and others. This is because their nerves are affected with this condition and are no more in order. Massage therapy helps in reducing pains with pressure applied on paining areas that ultimately alleviates pains and other sensations.
  • Mobility is one of the biggest problems that MS sufferers face and it is because of joint and muscle stiffness and soreness.
  • Massage therapy proves helpful by stimulating flow of blood and nutrients to those parts of a patient’s body that have restricted movement.
  • It increases flexibility and speeds up recovery. Not only that but is also strengthens muscles that have become weak with enhanced oxygenation and blood circulation.
  • This enhanced circulation enables blood to reach deeper in arteries and veins of your body. Thus, widens vessels too.
  • Massage therapy reduces swelling and relaxes muscles.
  • Stress and anxiety can further trigger MS symptoms and can make your condition worse. With regular massage therapies, patients would experience reduced anxiety, depression and stress. Not only its physical effect is soothing, but environment of a massage session also aids in reducing stress. A calm environment with soothing music would already make you feel better and a soothing therapy in such environment does the rest of the needful.
  • It proves to be a preventive measure against development of pressure sores. However once pressure sores are developed or you have any inflamed reddened area, massage therapy should be avoided.
  • Overall patients can regain health and recover quickly with regular massage therapy treatment.

Massage Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis:

Different massage therapies can be performed for improvement in condition of MS patients depending upon severity and stage of their disease. When Multiple Sclerosis is at its acute age then massage therapy should be avoided. At this stage, massage therapy may aggravate pain and discomfort. Some therapies that are commonly used for such patients include:

  • Deep Tissue Massage: Deep tissue massage could be great help in relieving pains associated with this disease. In deep tissue massage therapy, painful spots are located and they are then worked upon to release tensed muscles and knots. Although in the beginning this therapy could temporarily give you greater amount of pains on the area worked upon but over long run it would reduce pain symptoms.
  • Trigger Point Therapy: Similar to deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy also helps in releasing tensed knots, joints and muscles in body of patients and thus improves their well-being.
  • Raindrop Massage Therapy: Massage therapist uses essential oils for this therapy and these oils are placed on bottom of feet. Some drops of it are also placed on your back or spine. Some in soles too and this is why the therapy is termed as raindrops. The body is then massaged with these oils that stimulate relaxation on different levels and gives you physical and psychological relaxation.
  • Swedish Massage Therapy: This traditional massage therapy involves use of kneading, strokes, tapping, friction and other actions that are performed for proper toning and enhanced circulation within your body. This therapy is performed gently in order to minimize pain and maximize relaxation.
  • Stone Massage (using warm stones): Stone massage using warm stones is also preferred for deep relaxation within body of MS sufferers. Warm stones work well to unwind their body and gives relief from pains, tensed muscles and stress.
  • Reflexology Foot Massage Therapy: During this therapy, specific reflexology points are pressed on your foot bottom and these points are chosen because they have sensory neurons which would lead to relaxation in other parts of your body.

Additional Massage Tips for MS Sufferers:

  • Regular massage therapy would be helpful for dealing with MS symptoms.
  • When using stone massage therapy, remember that hot stone massage is not recommended for this condition as nerves are already disturbed and thus patient may not be able to feel hot heat or burning sensation from stones.
  • In any massage therapy, it is important that only less pressure should be applied in muscles as deep strength pressure may result in a flare-up.
  • Also avoid Rolfing or structural integration which involves manipulation of tissues as there can happen some abnormal reflexes.

Conclusion:

Physical activity, proper diet and massage therapy together can improve your condition although improvement would differ according to each patient’s sickness stage and general health. However for massage therapists it is important to properly assess a patient’s condition before beginning any treatment. Type of massage, its frequency and length can be best determined in accordance with that assessment and symptoms presentation. But massage therapy overall in true terms play an effective role in relieving symptoms of this disease and helps in maintaining one’s health.

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