Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a condition where your body mistakenly attacks your brain or spinal cord or sometimes both, even though they may be healthy. MS is an autoimmune condition that can be mild or can result in serious disability. When something goes wrong in your immune system and your body starts to attack, it damages your myelin sheath. Myelin sheath is what surrounds and protects yours nerves. When your body attacks, it causes damage to the myelin sheath and sometimes the nerves. As a result of this, MS can cause problems with your vision, balance, sensation or movement of your legs and arms.
There are many signs and symptoms of MS. Some of the most common symptoms include;
- Blurred vision
- Affected ability to walk
- Poor balance or co-ordination
- Reduced bladder control
As a result of MS a range of negative effects occur. Some negative effects of MS include;
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle spasms
- Numbness or pins and needles
How can massage help MS?
Here at Massage.physio.co.ukare therapists are able to use a range of techniques to help treat those suffering with MS. Ways in which a massage can help include;
- Reduced stress
- Improved sensation
Stress is a common feeling felt from those suffering with MS. Stress can be caused by restricted movement, pain or anxiety. A massage helps to reduce stress by reducing muscle stiffness and increasing the circulation of positive hormones. Muscle stiffness is reduced as muscle temperature increases. As muscle temperature increases, the flexibility of the tissues and joints increases. Increasing flexibility of soft tissues and joints allows an increase in movement and a reduction in stress.
Positive hormones are released due to the friction and new sensation created within the different strokes. An increase in positive hormones such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine causes an increase in relaxation and an overall more positive mood. A study by Hernandez Reif M, et al has shown massage to lower anxiety and depression immediately after the massage sessions. By the end of the study those that took part also had improved self-esteem and a better body image. Reducing anxiety and improving your overall moos helps to reduce stress.
Poor sensations can include pain, pins and needles, numbness and much more. The most common cause of poor sensation is nerve damage or entrapment. Nerves are what provide us with all sensations so when these become damaged or trapped, they often send poor sensations to make the body aware something is not right. A massage can help to improve sensation by increasing healing of damaged nerves. A massage increase blood flow around the body which provides healthy oxygen and nutrients essential for the repair and regeneration of damage. Increasing blood flow helps to increase healing and therefore improves sensation.
Overall benefits of massage for MS can be hugely advantageous for anyone suffering with this condition. The benefits that occur most often include;
- Improved mood
- Relieved pain
- Increased range of movement
- Increased healing
- Increased relaxation
How can I arrange a massage for MS?
Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Field, T., & Theakston, H. (1998). Multiple sclerosis patients benefit from massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2, 168-174.