Parkinson's disease is a condition in which the central nervous system begins to deteriorate. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that when nerve cells die, a person's movement is affected. In the case of Parkinson's disease, movement can become uncoordinated, unusually slow and shaky, with the presence of tremors. Medications can be used to control the abnormal movements of Parkinson's disease. Alternative therapies such as massage may also have a beneficial effect on Parkinson's patients.
Reduction of Muscle Spasm
Muscle spasms and rigidity are symptoms common to people with Parkinson's disease, and they may be alleviated to some extent through massage. According to the Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies, massage therapy, or body work as it is sometimes called, is not enough to completely relieve abnormal muscle activity, but it can be a natural way to improve function. Studies performed jointly by the University of Miami and Duke University showed that participants who underwent a 15 minute massage while lying on their stomachs, followed by another 15 minutes of bodywork while lying on their backs, showed a reduction of muscle spasm and less tremor activity.
The Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) studies the effect of holistic health care on particular illness, including Parkinson's disease. The association explains that massage can effectively increase blood circulation throughout the body, which can in turn have a positive effect on the nervous system.
More Restful Sleep
Improved sleep is a beneficial effect of massage on Parkinson's disease patients, reports the Massage Therapy Foundation. The decrease of tremors and less tension in the muscles from massage therapy sessions were observed in a 2002 Miami-Duke study. The same research also showed a decrease in stress hormones when measured through urine tests. Study participants also reported less wakefulness or restlessness during sleep and a more restful sleep for longer periods of time, up to 10 hours in some cases.