Parkinson’s and Massage
Last updated: June 2023
I have had Parkinson’s disease (PD) for 20 years and deep brain stimulation (DBS) for 10 years now. I have finally conceded that there may be symptoms that are not being captured as well as they used to be by the DBS. For example, the stiffness, some minor inconvenient things called tremors, more and more pain, and always, the dystonia.
I also have begun that wonderful ritual of falling again. When I say "again," I mean quite often, like once or twice a week. It just so happens that 2 of these tumbles prompted this article.
As I lay there on the floor with my husband standing over me asking me, "Are you okay?" I realized that I was not hurt so much as hurting. All my muscles were stiff and aching, I was stressed, and my cervical dystonia was out of control. It was then I realized I need my friendly massage therapist, Joe!
Massage for Parkinson's
So where does massage fit into the overall package for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for a person with PD? Although there is limited research, 1 clinical trial did show that massage therapy helped improve quality of life for people with Parkinson's.1
As far as I am concerned, massage is not a luxury. It is necessary for my emotional and medical health and well-being.
Preparing for an appointment
Before trying massage therapy, you should check-in with your doctor and talk to your massage therapist about PD. Your therapist should be knowledgeable about the body dynamics and at least have some idea about Parkinson’s. Make sure you are comfortable with your massage therapist. Be honest and open. Do not be in a hurry or rushed.
This is about the relaxation of your body and mind as well. Give yourself permission to stop for that 60 minutes and "just be!" Throughout your session, your therapist should talk to you about what they are doing and ask for feedback about what is working.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you can find a massage therapist that comes to you, even better!
I felt so much better
To finish up my story of my 2 falls in one week - I reached for the phone and called Joe! He is my trusted massage therapist who makes house calls at no extra charge! I explained to Joe what had happened and that I was in a considerable amount of pain. Thankfully, he arrived an hour later with his massage table and oils in hand.
My husband had moved the couch in the living room back enough to create room for the massage table and we had therapeutic music playing and low lighting just like a massage room.
Joe set up the table and placed our sheet on it and our pillow on it. He is very discreet and respectful. About an hour later, I needed to be peeled off the massage table, but I felt so much better!
Find your massage therapist
I recommend massage to everyone I know - Parkinson’s or not! Now, I have noticed women seem to be more inclined towards getting massages. After having tricked my husband (who also has Parkinson’s) to get onto a massage table at a conference once, he is now a convert! Massage relieved dystonia in his shoulders and neck that was hurting so badly.
Men ... do not be shy about this. It is about your health and wellness! No matter what age or body type you are, or if you have shaven your legs (women), the therapists do not care. A good one only cares about your well-being and helping you have better health! I know Joe is that way! Go find your Joe!
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