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Massage and MS: Managing Symptoms and Improving Quality Of Life

When I was a young girl I thought massages were for wealthy people, something only they could afford to do.

I was dead wrong.

Holistic treatments

Like others in the MS community, I am trying to live a more holistic life by finding alternatives to medications and over-the-counter remedies.

But pain is a great leveler, forcing you to scramble to find something – anything – to relieve the suffering. After years of downing multiple over-the-counter medications to curb the pain from my MS, fibromyalgia, and tension headaches, I’ve finally turned to alternative options. Heating pads filled with lavender, peppermint oil on my temples, or my husband’s sweet massages are a few of the ways I try to curb the pain. But I need more.

A licensed masseuse to improve wellbeing

A licensed masseuse to reduce stress and improve overall well-being can be another solution.

I had my first massage in my twenties after hearing about a new masseuse specializing in Swedish massages. I arrived ready to be cured. My hopes were quickly dashed when the receptionist led me to a small, open area on the floor where my massage would take place. People walking around me while loud music blared in my ears were not the calming effect I’d imagined.

I learned my lesson and now look for licensed massage therapists who provide a quiet, nurturing space for massages. Now I can enjoy hourly sessions with a therapist working on removing tight knots on my body. Along with soothing music and fragrant oils, it is always heavenly.

Massage therapy for for MS

The News Medical article, “Massage Therapy Can Alleviate Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis” addresses the issues of MS including severe pains, muscle spasms, clinical depression, poor circulation, anxiety and stress. It claims, “Although not a substitute for regular MS treatment, massage therapy is an effective, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that can alleviate such symptoms and in turn, help to pacify the disease”

The article adds that, “Massage therapy is an easy and affordable complement to doctor-prescribed treatments. Massage therapy may assist MS patients in managing the stress of their symptoms and to improve their quality of life.” 

Different types of massages

If you’ve never had a massage I highly recommend getting one. But before you do, decide which type of massage is right for you:

  • Swedish massage: A gentle form using circular strokes to help relax and energize you.
  • Deep massage: A forceful massage that uses slower strokes that go deep into the connective tissues and muscles.
  • Sports massage: Similar to Swedish but geared toward athletes to help or prevent injuries.
  • Trigger point massage: Focusing on tight muscles occurring from overuse or injury.

According to The Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that massage helps with stress, pain and muscle tension. Although more research is needed, a few studies have found that getting a massage is an effective treatment for anxiety, fibromyalgia, headaches, and insomnia.

It simply feels good

Best of all, it simply feels good. A qualified therapist can create an atmosphere of total calm and comfort. Be sure to communicate which specific areas you’d like the therapist to focus on (or stay away from), and discuss any health concerns you want them to be aware of.

So relax, close your eyes, and quiet your mind. You deserve to treat yourself to an hour of blissful calm.


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


  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    Thanks, Kim. I want them to tell me YES or NO and not throw meds at me. I need a name. And if it’s not MS I’ll move on to find out what is going on. It is affecting me. As an advocate, I have to be like Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” to get what I want. I appreciate you answering me. xo

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    5 years ago

    Cathy, the toe-freezing/pain sounds like a cramp or spasm. I get those, too. Your leg pain could be a spasticity symptom. I get that as well. But I also have chronic spasticity, a constant state of muscle tightness that impedes my walking, and for which I take baclofen. When our neuros perform those physical exams, they are also checking for spasticity. If your doc isn’t diagnosing you with spasticity, it might be because it is very mild. Just a guess.

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    5 years ago

    Yes! I’ve discovered that getting even one massage per month is more effective than struggling with exercise and stretching. I have less pain and muscle spasticity. And I have to have the gentlest kind of massage, I can’t tolerate anything deeper. A little goes a long way. But it is expensive and I don’t do it very often. I do wish Medicare would cover it like PT. Maybe some day.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    Kim, I am having a hard time getting my doctor to tell me I have spasticity. I have leg pain (feels like I have to “wake” them up) and at times my toes freeze in a weird way and there is pain. Is that anything like what you have? Thanks. Glad massages help.

  • kitminden
    5 years ago

    It’s really important to check them out ahead of time. A great massage therapist is wonderful. One with 10 thumbs is just hopeless!

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    You are so right, Kit. I’ve had really bad ones when, after the massage, I felt even worse than I did before going in. Now I go by recommendation only. If you’re going to pay for a massage, you should receive the best one possible!

    When it’s the right massage therapist, a-h-h!

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