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Benefits of Massage Therapy on Multiple Sclerosis

by
author image Lia Stannard
Lia Stannard has been writing about women’s health since 2006. She has her Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and is pursuing a doctorate in clinical health psychology.
Benefits of Massage Therapy on Multiple Sclerosis
Massage therapy can help patients with multiple sclerosis. Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images
Medically Reviewed by
George Krucik, MD, MBA

Overview

Patients with multiple sclerosis have problems with their immune systems attacking their nerves, resulting in nerve damage. MedlinePlus explains that multiple sclerosis affects the brain and spinal cord, causing pain, movement problems and other symptoms. While the treatment for multiple sclerosis often involves medication to control symptoms, some patients may opt to include massage therapy as part of their treatment program.

Pain Reduction

Many multiple sclerosis patients experience pain when the disorder affects their sensory nerves. MedlinePlus notes that patients can have facial pain or a burning sensation in their limbs. The pain from multiple sclerosis may impact other functions. For example, if a multiple sclerosis patient has pain in her legs, she may have difficulty walking. Massage therapy can help reduce this pain. When performing the massage, the masseuse puts pressure on the areas where the pain occurs. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs suggests that multiple sclerosis patients consider massage therapy and other physical treatments, like physical therapy, when they start experiencing pain.

Increased Flexibility

Patients with multiple sclerosis can have problems with movement. MedlinePlus notes that patients can have many muscle problems, such as muscle spams, problems walking and loss of balance and coordination. Multiple sclerosis patients may have problems moving their arms and doing fine motor movements, such as picking up small objects with their hands. Weakness and tremors can also occur in patients' arms and legs. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that massage therapy can help patients with these muscle problems. For example, massaging the legs can help reduce spasticity, in which the muscles contract and become tight. In addition, massage therapy helps with flexibility, which improves patients' mobility.

Stress Reduction

As part of the multiple sclerosis treatment, patients need to keep their stress levels low. MedlinePlus explains that with multiple sclerosis, stress can worsen the symptoms or trigger them. For example, if a patient has a remission, in which he does not currently have symptoms, but becomes very stressed, his multiple sclerosis symptoms can start up again. Massage therapy can reduce the amount of stress multiple sclerosis patients have, and can help keep them calm. Besides the physical calming of a massage, the environment during a massage session can reduce stress. For example, if a massage therapy session uses calming music, the patient may feel more relaxed. The University of Maryland Medical Center adds that massage therapy improves patients' well-being.

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