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Parkinson’s and Massage

Parkinson’s and Massage

“A massage is NOT a luxury as far as I am concerned it is necessary for my emotional and medical health and well-being.” – Gretchen Church

Having had Parkinson’s disease for 20 years and Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for 10 years now, I have finally conceded that there may be some symptoms that are not being captured as well as they used to be by the DBS. The stiffness, some minor inconvenient things called tremors, more and more pain, always the dystonia and pain. 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.

Because, as I lay there on the floor with my husband standing over me asking me, “Are you OK?” I realized that I was not hurt so much as hurting. All my muscles were stiff and aching and I was stressed and the cervical dystonia was out of control. It was then I realized I need my friendly massage therapist, JOE!

The beastie Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative progressive disease that has no cure. PD affects motor issues as well as non-motor issues. Typically, we think of Parkinson’s as:

  • Tremors
  • Rigidity
  • Bradykinesia: Slowness of movement
  • Gait and balance issues
  • Dystonia
  • Dyskinesia

But there are other non-motor issues as well:

Just to name a few.

Parkinson’s and massage

So where does massage fit into the overall package for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for a person with PD? It is no surprise that massage therapy (MT) has been sought out for PD for many years as a complementary treatment to standard medical treatments. One study out of the National Institutes of Health goes into extensive detail about different types of MT and the benefits in many areas for the Parkinson’s patient. Their study was focused around reducing tremor and rigidity, to which they did in fact see a reduction. Other case studies noted in the NIH study discuss reduction in pain, stiffness, constipation, less depression, and greater vitality! Not only that, massage has been found to release the happy endorphins we need to battle depression and stop the pain!1

What to expect

Massage therapy should not hurt! While it can be slightly painful if you have some knots to work out, there should be relief once worked out. Your massage therapist should be knowledgeable about the body dynamics and at least have some idea about Parkinson’s disease. Make sure you are comfortable with your therapist. Be honest and open. Do not be in a hurry or rushed. This is about relaxation of your body and mind as well. Give yourself permission to STOP for that 60 minutes and just BE! Your MT should talk to you about what they are doing and ask for feedback about what is working.

Back to Joe

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you can find a massage therapist that comes to you, EVEN 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, no extra charge! I explained to Joe what had happened and that I was in 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 in it. He is very discreet and respectful. An hour+ later I needed to be poured off the massage table, but I felt so much better!

Final words

I recommend massage to everyone I know Parkinson’s or not! Now, as a woman, we seem to be more inclined towards getting massages, just something I have noticed. After having tricked my husband, who also has Parkinson’s disease, 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 wellbeing and helping you have better health! I know Joe is that way! GO FIND YOUR JOE!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ParkinsonsDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Casciaro, Y. Massage Therapy Treatment and Outcomes for a Patient with Parkinson’s Disease: a Case Report. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4771486/.

Comments

  • Ltcol20
    5 months ago

    I also have a massage therapist I go to once a week. I have a lot of rigidity and tight muscles so she does a lot of working out knots, especially around my neck and shoulders. I definitely recommend it for everyone.

  • USMCPD
    5 months ago

    I was wondering is Massage covered by Medicare or is it covered by insurance? How frequent for the massage to be helpful?

  • Ltcol20
    5 months ago

    I have one once a week.

  • Chris H. moderator
    5 months ago

    Great question, @USMCPD. I’m not sure what the rules are regarding Medicare covering massages. Have you tried reaching out to a Medicare representative or your doctor? – Chris, ParkinsonsDisease.net Team

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