Massage Therapy’s Powerful Role in Easing Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Leslie DeMatteo, LMT, MS’s above-mentioned article, in Institute for Integrative Health Care’s 6/1/17 newsletter edition, was another great reminder! MS is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. It manifests itself in different patterns of inflammation based on location and levels of scarring, demyelination, and axonal damage throughout the CNS. The immune system attacks myelin, a protective layer around nerve fibers. Massage has long been shown to reduce fatigue and pain, as well as to reduce swelling and inflammation throughout the body and muscle tissues. It’s also been shown to reduce pain, partly due to a decrease in stress and partly due to a decrease in tension of muscle tissue and an increase in joint mobility. Swedish massage increases circulation by physically moving blood and fluid throughout the body, bringing fresh, oxygenated blood to muscle tissues. Capillary (where gas exchange happens!) dilation occurs through light strokes. It also increases movement of lymphatic fluid, decreasing swelling and inflammation, which can also aid in occurrence of pressure sores! Lastly, it’s been shown to decrease spasticity by relaxing muscles and improving range of motion of muscles and joints. Extreme fatigue can be exacerbated by total relaxation of muscle tissue, so patient and therapist always need to keep that in mind. Even though deep pressure may feel good during the massage, the therapist must never actually use it because over the next couple of days, at least, the patient possible will be rendered incapacitated due to it!

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