Massage Therapy Can Help Relieve Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Symptoms

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. Parkinson’s symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. As the disease progresses, people may have difficulty walking and talking.

Symptoms people may experience with Parkinson’s disease:

  • Tremor: can occur at rest, in the hands, limbs, or can be postural
  • Muscular: stiff muscles, difficulty standing, difficulty walking, difficulty with bodily movements, involuntary movements, muscle rigidity, problems with coordination, rhythmic muscle contractions, slow bodily movement, or slow shuffling gait
  • Sleep: early awakening, nightmares, restless sleep, or sleep disturbances
  • Whole body: fatigue, dizziness, poor balance, or restlessness
  • Cognitive: amnesia, confusion in the evening hours, dementia, or difficulty thinking and understanding
  • Speech: difficulty speaking, soft speech, or voice box spasms
  • Nasal: distorted sense of smell or loss of smell
  • Urinary: dribbling of urine or leaking of urin
  • Mood: anxiety or apathy
  • Facial: jaw stiffness or reduced facial expression
  • Also common: blank stare, constipation, depression, difficulty swallowing, drooling, falling, fear of falling, loss in contrast sensitivity, neck tightness, small handwriting, trembling, unintentional writhing, or weight loss

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.

Massage Therapy can Help PD Symptoms

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.

Case Study by Yolanda Casciaro, BSc, RMT

A 63-year-old female patient with idiopathic, long-standing, Hoehn-Yahr Stage 4 PD was treated with massage therapy five times over the course of six weeks. A SPES/SCOPA Motor Impairments rating scale was used to measure rigidity and tremor pre- and post-treatment, to gauge treatment effectiveness. The massage treatments consisted of deep longitudinal stroking, muscle squeezing techniques, passive range of motion movements, and general relaxation techniques to encourage a soothing environment while promoting a decrease in muscular tone and hyperactivity. Massage therapy administration was by a student near the end of her two-year diploma. Results The results obtained indicated that massage therapy treatment had a positive effect on reducing resting and postural tremor in a patient with long-standing PD. The treatment was also effective in temporarily reducing rigidity during treatment, but did not produce a lasting effect. Conclusion Further study is required; however, the results of this case were consistent with the limited research available on the subject of massage therapy and Parkinson’s disease, in that positive change with respect to tremor—and to a lesser degree, rigidity—were achieved with focused, intentional treatment.

Contact Tampa Massage Clinic

Tampa Massage Clinic provides on-location massage services in the Greater Tampa, Florida area. To schedule an appointment with Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Advanced Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist, Jakki Bosco LMT, please call (813) 298-5603. We believe nothing is more important than human touch.

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