Do you know someone with MS? I don't, but recently I overheard someone talking about MS as a possible diagnosis and being very frustrated with their symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease where your immune system adversely attacks the protective covering of your nerves. The result is that your nerves may start to deteriorate. Symptoms may vary from day to day and are different for each individual. Common reported symptoms include poor circulation, pain, or spasticity (spasms). The amount of nerve damage and which nerves are involved are factors in the variety of symptoms that occur. Often a person's balance and mobility are affected. Other symptoms may include numbness, tingling or tightness, which may or may not be painful.
A study done in 1998 (Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., & Theakston, H. (1998), "Multiple sclerosis patients benefit from massage therapy", Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2, 168-174) revealed that study participants had lower anxiety and less depressed mood immediately following their massage sessions. Participants reported their physical and social activity had also increased while they were receiving massage therapy.
A more recent preliminary study (Multiple Sclerosis (2003,9:345-61)) indicates that reflexology had significant benefit for symptoms of paresthesias (numbness, burning, or tingling sensation), urinary symptoms and muscle spasticity (muscle spasms). Obviously more research needs to be done but the results look promising. An important finding was that improvement in paresthesias was still significant when the group was reevaluated three months after the final reflexology session.
Swedish massage can help to increase circulation, provide some pain relief, relax muscles and relieve anxiety for individuals with MS. Reflexology also seems a good choice for this disease. However, MS sufferers interested in getting a massage should first check with their doctor to see if it is appropriate for them.
1403 Pemberton Road, Suite 104
Richmond, Virginia 23238