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Ease MS Symptoms with Massage Therapy

Update Date: Mar 04, 2013 12:48 PM EST

People suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms may find relief with massage therapy. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that chronically attacks one's central nervous system, which is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. MS often attacks in episodes that can last from days to weeks. Symptoms include numbness, paralysis, or vision impairment. There are several treatment options that can ease these symptoms, and now, one more option, massage therapy, can be included according to some experts.

These experts stress that massage therapy is not a cure for MS, but rather, an option that people with MS should try in helping them cope with the stresses and pain resulting from the disease. Massage therapy has been praised for years for its stress relieving and body relaxing capabilities. Therefore, massages may actually ease the pains from muscle spasms that MS patients experience and help with blood circulation, lowering pain and anxiety.

"Don't expect massage therapy to cure your MS. It is not meant to be a treatment or have any lasting effects, but it can improve your mood and your quality of life," a licensed clinical massage therapist, Salif Bishop, MLT stated. Bishop works with MS patients at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.

The types of massages that Bishop recommends for MS patients are Swedish massages and acupressure. Swedish massages include light pressure and long strokes whereas acupressure involves massaging target areas on the body, which is similar to acupuncture. The Chinese practice of acupuncture has also been praised for its health benefits. Previous studies into the benefits of massage therapy have shown that it successfully reduces stress, and the less stress the body feels, the better the brain functions against diseases.

Doctors and therapists continually remind MS patients that this option is not a cure nor should it replace actual medical treatment. However, massage therapy can be effective in lowering pain, thus it can make living with MS more bearable and more comfortable.

According to the National MS Society, MS afflicts over 2.1 million people globally. 

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