Why You May Want to Consider Massage Therapy

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Sherri Journeying Through

When you’ve been blessed with the companionship of the Little Monster, as we so familiarly and unaffectionately call Parkinson’s disease, you may get tense and tight at the mere mention of PD.

For some with Parkinson’s, perhaps you haven’t experienced much stiffness. Maybe no pain. Maybe lots. Whether you have or not, there is something you can do for yourself that will keep you a little looser, a little more mobile, a little happier. It’s a little treat you can give yourself.

A massage.

Massage therapy has been proven to improve a patient’s day-to-day activities, sleeping habits, walking, stress, and more. Rigidity, stiffness, fatigue, and other symptoms have also been proven to get relief from this treatment. If these symptoms aren’t addressed, depression, poor self-esteem, and isolation can set in or get worse.

One study showed that massage helped boost self-confidence, well-being, walking abilities, and performance of daily living activities in a group of seven patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. They were monitored while receiving eight one-hour, full-body massage therapy sessions over the course of eight weeks.

Urine samples of these patients also showed a significant decrease in the amount of stress hormones that were registered at the beginning of the study.

These positive results were again registered not only by the researchers, but also from assessments conducted with the participants of the study. This suggests that while massage leads to measurable biological and chemical improvements in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the patients themselves can actually feel this difference tangibly in their everyday lives.

With more than 500,000 people currently suffering from Parkinson’s disease and its symptoms in the U.S. — and 50,000 people contracting Parkinson’s annually — further exploration of massage therapy as a complementary way to treat the symptoms should be taken up by researchers — and by the patients themselves.

We’ve always known a back rub feels nice. A massage will not only help with rigidity, stiffness, and stress, but also it will leave you feeling better. Most neurologists or movement disorder specialists will advise you to add this as part of your treatment. So consult your doctor for a recommendation, make an appointment, grab your car keys, and tootle on down to the local massage therapist. Maybe you’ll have timed it well and be next. And don’t forget to check your healthcare insurance program. Many will cover this type of treatment to some degree because it is considered treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s Disease.

Comments

Eleanor Lucas avatar

Eleanor Lucas

Both massage and swimming help me greatly helping the good endorphins take over the bad.

Thanks x

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

I love swimming, too. And walking.

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sandy avatar

sandy

does your insurance cover any portion of that

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Sandy - I honestly haven’t had to worry about that as so far i haven been charged as it’s been a family member has done it for no charge but I have heard a couple time (here and there) that Medicare may cover up to 2 x’s a month - not sure how accurate that is...

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Paddy Holroyde avatar

Paddy Holroyde

Thank you for demonstrating the peaceful, soul lifting and utterly blissful value of a full body massage. Yes, it does generally benefit all who can partake. But when writing so lightly, I think you should be mindful of those PwP, where the effects of the condition has reached the point where they can no longer safely drive. Where they can't welcome in grandchildren because of exhaustion, where they are saddled with continence issues and need an indwelling catheter, and where the meds: fail in most instances throughout each day. Such levels of deterioration so badly affects the quality of life, and achievement prospects, perhaps in more PwP than you can possible imagine.

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Thanks so much for the great information!

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MaggieJackson, LMT avatar

MaggieJackson, LMT

This is helpful yet keep in mind the "note" following the article acting as a blanket disclaimer. It would be a lengthy article indeed to delve into all possible signs and symptoms of every stage of every classification of this disease. Managing Parkinson's, or any condition, one size does not fit all and what helps with some symptoms may not help yours. It's also helpful to learn what's available to you. In addition to what's mentioned here, gentle, slow rhythmic rocking of arms and legs can also help. Massage can also help with digestion and over-all system function. Very importantly for everyone, circulation and lymphatic flow are stimulated and working soft tissue helps release toxins and free radicals. (Why it's important to hydrate well following your session) Great article to spark the conversation!

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Maggie - thanks for your informative comment. Truly great, thought provoking reflections! Some more to think about. Thanks!

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Skip Shaputnic avatar

Skip Shaputnic

Thanks for the informative article on what I call deep tissue therapeutic massage, although there are differences between 'deep tissue' and 'therapeutic.' After only 2 massage sessions recently I agree with the benefits that you cite in studies, although I'd like to know about their specifics. They're far more tangible than simply a positive "placebo effect."
Do you know if Medicare covers these types of massage as they are bonafide treatments for PD? If so do you know how one goes about submitting a Medicare claim? Many thanks.

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Skip - Thanks for your comment. I have heard both - yes and no in regards to Medicare coverage. I keep meaning to look into it but haven’t. You might be able to look through their yearly booklet and find the answer. That’s what I plan to do (one of these days).

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Liz avatar

Liz

Hi Sherri. Found your article while searching for information about massage therapy for people with Parkinson disease. The link provided referencing research, to nwpf.org, does not function. Do you have another citation for the research? Thanks for any help you can provide.

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Liz - Here is a link that may be beneficial to what you are searching for.

http://www.winhealth.ca/new-blog/2018/2/12/benefit-of-massage-therapy-for-patients-with-parkinsons-disease

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rohit aggarwal avatar

rohit aggarwal

thanks for the information

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Twinkle avatar

Twinkle

Keep up the great work, it's hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Great content on massage benefits. This is very amazing and helpful blog for me. Thank you so much for providing such kind of knowledge with us.

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Lloyd Bronson avatar

Lloyd Bronson

I am surprised that massage therapy can assist with Parkinson's disease by boosting self-confidence, walking abilities, as well as improving the performance of daily activities. My daughter finds herself struggling with this affliction and I want to help her in any way I can. I'll look into massage therapy as an option to try and combat Parkinson's.

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Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Hi Lloyd - also try an exercise program if that hasn’t been tried yet. It will also do what you have listed above for massage therapy. Good luck!

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Mary Burns avatar

Mary Burns

Thank you for this information. I'm a LMT for 3 years now, and I just found out yesterday a very good friend of mine wife was just diagnosed with Parkinson's. I so want to help her anyway I can.

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Rob avatar

Rob

In the last couple of years, even since this article was written, it's been discovered that the brain has it's own lymphatic system, which is an important pathway for keeping the brain healthy. Current research seems to be saying that for people with neuro-degenerative conditions, this system has reduced functioning (possibly clogged or overloaded with misfolded proteins?). Which leads to the curious suggestion that massage, and massage chairs, could have real physiological benefit for Parkinsons sufferers by assisting the flow of lymph. Since the lymphatic system doesnt have it's own pump like the heart, but has instead a series of valves, which rely upon movement in the body to push/pull fluids through. As a side benefit, this could also help with digestion and constipation.
Food for thought, in my expanding search to find ways to help my Mum!

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John Harcourt avatar

John Harcourt

thanks, I am searching for any/all information on massage and payments by Medicare.
John Harcourt

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