Navigating the Path to Wellness with Massage Therapy

The following are excerpts from an article by Donna Shryer which appeared in Massage Therapy Journal dated August 22, 2017.

(My comments are in parentheses.)

Consider this: 20 years ago, massage for cancer patients was categorically judged unwise for fear that it accelerated the spread of the cancer. However, recent studies reverse this opinion, highlighting specific instances where massage is both indicated and highly beneficial for cancer patients. Similarly, researchers now feel that patients with any of the following five chronic medical conditions—or pathologies—can benefit from massage therapy.
 

Osteoarthritis 

The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease of the joints that affects more than 30 million Americans. Most people over age 60 have OA to some degree, which occurs as the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down. Bones most often affected are in the hands, spine, and knee and hip joints, with symptoms including pain, stiffness, swelling and decreased range of motion. (**Study results showed that massage therapy enabled significant improvements in pain, function and stiffness.)
 

Type 2 Diabetes 

Affecting 29.1 million Americans, Type 2 diabetes (T2D) accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases diagnosed. A common T2D complication is peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage caused by chronically high blood sugar. Symptoms include numbness; loss of sensation; pain in the feet, legs or hands; and, specific to diabetic peripheral neuropathy in the feet, impaired balance. (**Study results showed improvement in balance, foot sensation and mobility.)

**In a study presented at the 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium, massage was shown to greatly decrease CIPN (chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy) -associated symptoms, increase skin temperature in fingers and toes, and generally improve quality of life in persons affected by chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
 

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia 

Dementia is a group of signs and symptoms, an umbrella term that covers multiple progressive neurodegenerative diseases with similar clinical profiles. Alzheimer’s is under that umbrella. Here’s a brief list of dementia symptoms that apply to Alzheimer’s:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Difficulty performing ordinary activities
  • Feeling confused or frustrated, especially at night
  • Dramatic mood swings—outbursts of anger, anxiety and depression
  • Feeling disoriented and getting lost easily
  • Physical problems, such as an odd walk or poor coordination
  • Trouble communicating

(**Several small studies showed decreased aggressiveness, improved relaxation and decreased stress levels.)
 

Cancer

Cancer defies a simple, singular definition due to hugely positive advancements in the study and treatment of tumors. However, the disease as a category continues to bring with it some degree of pain, anxiety and depression. In these areas, numerous research reviews and clinical studies suggest that at least for the short term, massage therapy can help reduce discomfort, promote relaxation and boost mood.
 

Mood Disorders 

Mood disorders, as defined by Salvo, “are emotional disturbances consisting of prolonged periods of excessive sadness or excessive elation, or both, that significantly impair the person’s capacity to function.”

What is clear is that studies large and small have shown that massage therapy can help soothe stand-alone and symptomatic mood disorders. “Research suggests and clients report that massage therapy can reduce pain and improve quality of life,” Salvo says. In addition, Salvo writes in her textbook Mosby’s Pathology for Massage Therapists / Edition 3, “Although massage does not eliminate stress, it often helps us cope with it better and alleviates some symptoms.”

Feel Better, Stay Well. Body Dialog Massage.