How Massage and Bodywork Is Used to Treat MS Patients

Massages are known to relieve pain, stress and help out with problem areas. According to the National MS Society, it’s one of the most well-known bodywork treatments. There are several kinds of massages that originated in different countries — below are some of the most used today.

MORE: Massage helps with MS pain and fatigue

The Swedish massage is a bit more “traditional.” It uses techniques such as vibration, kneading, and friction.

The German massage uses most of the same techniques as the Swedish massage, but combines them with healing baths. Keep in mind that if you’re sensitive to heat, this might not be the best option for you.

Acupressure sounds like acupuncture, and that’s no mistake. This treatment is a Chinese massage that originated from acupuncture and uses fingers to stimulate the same parts of the body as needles do.

Shiatsu is a Japanese treatment that focuses on preventing conditions, not healing them. It uses fingers to promote better blood flow, provide energy and restore balance in the body.

Other than massages, there are other types of bodywork therapy. There’s the Rolfing or Aston variations, the Feldenkrais method, the Alexander technique and the Trager method.

The real question is: how do these massages and bodywork methods benefit patients with MS? While it might vary from case to case, it has been known to improve a patient’s range of motion and helped relax muscles. It also helps by bringing down swelling, reducing pain, improving circulation and reducing the chance of developing pressure sores.

However, a massage is not always a good or even safe option. Certain conditions may prevent patients from undergoing any bodywork therapy,  including massage. For example, if a patient suffers from edema, osteoporosis, ulcers, liver or spleen enlargement, they may not be a candidate for bodywork therapy. The same goes for people who have suffered recent injuries, have been diagnosed with cancer, arthritis, heart disease or are pregnant. These groups must always consult a doctor before going ahead with this type of treatment.

While massage won’t make a difference in certain MS symptoms (like grip strength), it can help with others such as anxiety and depression. It might even make a minor improvement in ambulation.

MOREWhat is reflexology?

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay iseeking it because of something you have read on this website.


  1. My patient (wife) says a massaging of lower back is beneficial both for reducing pain and facilitating mobility and walking. She has been diagnosed with osteoporosis of the spine and I suppose that is more painful than the pain of MS (progressive) itself. I use a small electric vibrating massage device but I wonder if someone can recommend something better.

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