Updated: May 3
This month let’s look at how massage can help people living with Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder, affecting around 1 in 500 people in the UK. Degenerative means that it gets progressively worse over time. It is slightly more common in men than in women, and most people start to show symptoms above the age of 50 (source NHS UK). It is the world’s fastest growing neurological condition (source Parkinson’s UK).
Parkinson’s is caused by the loss of nerve cells responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine plays a part in controlling the body’s movements and emotional responses.
There are three main symptoms, involuntary shaking of parts of the body, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles.
Though these are the main symptoms, people with Parkinson’s can experience a wide range of effects, including balance problems, depression, insomnia, memory problems and lack of smell. It can be a very distressing for the person living with Parkinson’s and their family and friends. There is currently no cure.
For more information and to access support, please visit Parkinson’s UK.
Studies have shown that regular massage can reduce tremors and rigidity of muscles. It can also relieve pain, stiffness, constipation, dystonia and can help with depression also.
How does massage help?
It warms up the stiff muscles and increases blood flow to tissues, so bringing in fresh nutrients and oxygen, and taking away waste. This helps all organs to work more effectively. Massage increases endorphins, which help relieve pain, and it relieves tension that can build up as a result of stress or pain. It
helps relaxation and sleep.
There are different types of Parkinson’s, and massage is not suitable for them all, and so it is important to check with your Doctor before booking an appointment.
It is also important that your massage therapist has knowledge and understanding of Parkinson’s and that you are honest about what is comfortable and not! I can come to your house if that is easier and bring my massage table. The table can be lowered to a good height for you to use, or if you feel more comfortable on your own bed, I can adapt the massage for you.
Swedish Massage should not be painful and so if you do experience pain at any point please say. It is your massage that you are paying for and therefore you are in control so please don’t ever feel shy to speak up.
Have you had experience of Parkinson’s, either yourself or a loved one? Has massage made a difference to you? Please share your experiences below.