Multiple Sclerosis – May 2022

In my monthly articles I try to bring attention to how massage can help people in many different areas. Massage can be very beneficial to people with many different diseases and conditions.

This month I’d like to talk about how massage can help people with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease affecting the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). MS occurs when the immune system attacks nerve fibers and myelin sheathing (a fatty substance which surrounds/insulates healthy nerve fibers) in the brain and spinal cord. Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world, with an estimated 90,000 Canadians living with the disease. On average, 12 Canadians are diagnosed with MS everyday. World MS Day is on May 30th.

Some people seek massage therapy to reduce stress and anxiety. Others may want to ease pain or aid recovery from an illness or injury. You might want massage therapy just to loosen up and escape the pressures of the day.

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) might seek massage therapy for the same reasons. During a massage, the therapist manually manipulates your soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue. This can relax tense muscles, improve circulation, and help you feel less stressed. While it doesn’t treat the disease, massage therapy might be able to help with some of your MS symptoms.

Massage therapy can’t cure MS or change the course of the disease. But for some people with MS, massage therapy can be helpful in easing certain symptoms and improving overall quality of life. MS is different for each person who has it. The potential benefits of massage therapy will also vary from person to person.

Some MS symptoms that might improve with massage are: spasticity, pain, fatigue, poor circulation, stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also help prevent pressure sores, boost your mood, and improve physical and social functioning.

In 2016, a small study found that massage therapy was safe and beneficial in managing pain and fatigue in people with MS. Participants were given massage therapy once a week for six weeks. The study authors said that decreasing pain and fatigue may help to improve quality of life.

Another small study published in 2014 concluded that massage was safe and may help people with MS manage the stress of their symptoms. Participants reported that they felt an improvement in their overall well-being due to massage. The authors noted that this benefit could be from pain relief, the social interaction involved with massage, or a combination of both.

A small 2013 study of people with MS indicated that massage therapy could be more effective than exercise therapy in reducing pain. And combining massage therapy with exercise therapy may be even more helpful.   []

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