Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has always been a mystifying condition, but here at Greentoes we can relate to it personally, since Christina the founder of our eco-chic mani pedi studio & day spa was diagnosed with MS many years ago. Experts still aren’t sure what causes it and there is no cure. A handful of things are understood about what may contribute to MS, but research is still a long journey away from producing all of the answers.
MS is a neurological disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nerves in the spinal cord and brain by damaging their outer layer of protection. These attacks leave behind painful scars and they occur randomly.
Though the process by which MS attacks the body is the same, the condition itself affects everyone differently. It can be hard to pinpoint all of the factors that contribute to the severity of frequency of MS attacks, although things like the greater state of the metabolism and body temperature likely have an impact.
Because things vary significantly from person to person, not everyone will benefit to the same degree from traditional MS treatments. Alternatives, such as massage therapy at Greentoes, may become a valuable part of the care regimen for individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis.
The Options Available To People Living With MS
People with MS need to be in the care of a specialist who thoroughly understands the disorder. Some people choose to use alternative medicine or complementary medicine to make the most out of their treatment plan. A number of surveys show that anywhere between 60% and 70% of people living with MS have opted to integrate complementary or alternative treatments into their lives.
The National MS Society recognizes several varieties of complementary and alternative medicines for people with multiple sclerosis. Among the most popular alternative or complementary treatments are chiropractic care, acupuncture, low doses of the drug Naltrexone, cannabis-based treatments, and massage. None of these treatments can accurately claim to cure MS, but studies and trials have shown that many people surviving with MS find that they reduce symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
Naltrexone is a drug used to manage opioid and alcohol addiction in individuals, with an off label use for symptom management of people living with autoimmune diseases. Cannabis-based therapies are a catch all for people living with chronic conditions that involve pain, as well as certain psychological conditions. They’re a popular alternative for people who don’t want to rely on chemical pharmaceuticals.
There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that chiropractic therapies reduce lower back pain through spinal alignment. Its effects are very limited and have not been definitively documented. Likewise, the effectiveness of acupuncture has not been determined in a major study. There is slight evidence that acupuncture may have a small positive impact on the immune system.
Massage therapy is one of very few alternative treatments that has been thoroughly studied. It’s an excellent option for people who are looking for a proven complementary treatment for their MS, although it still cannot slow or cure the progression of the disorder.
How Massage Therapy Can Have A Positive Impact
The National MS Society reports promising findings on the use of massage (Swedish massage in particular) in managing and relieving symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Massage therapy has been shown to prevent pressure sores in patients who don’t currently have any. It also improves circulation on multiple levels, by both increasing the dilation of capillaries and stimulating the veins and arteries.
On a muscular level, massage therapy can work to control spasticity by relaxing the muscles and improving their range of motion. Above all else, massage therapy can be used to treat pain, which is a very common complaint in MS patients. Tissue swelling or stiffness almost always leads to pain, and that’s exactly what massage therapy is designed to correct.
A study conducted in 1998 reported that, while massage therapy cannot be used to cure MS, it can drastically improve the quality of life for people who are living with the condition. Participants utilized massage therapy for five weeks, and at the end, participants reported some wonderful things.
The use of massage lead to decreased depression and anxiety. Participants were more confident and felt better about their bodies. There were also slight improvements in ambulation and physical functioning, likely due to the pain management aspects of the massage. These patients were also able to live fuller social lives, enjoying the company of others without worrying about their pain.
Finding The Right Massage Therapist For MS
If you’re living with MS and you’re interested in exploring massage therapy as a part of your treatment, speak to your doctor. Not every MS patient may be a good candidate for massage therapy – particularly if they are also affected by edema or osteoporosis.
If your doctor believes that Swedish massage can help you feel and live better, book an appointment with us here at Greentoes. We’d love to see your symptoms improve through regular massage. You deserve to overcome your symptoms and live your life to the fullest.