Massage Therapy Effective for Multiple Sclerosis

Massage therapy may be more effective than exercise therapy alone for multiple sclerosis, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that involves an immune system attack on the central nervous system (including the spine, brain, and optic nerves). This process disrupts communication within the central nervous system, resulting in an array of physical and mental symptoms. Currently there is no known cure for MS, although a number of treatment can help to control symptoms and allow patients to lead healthy, productive lives.

Researchers recently set out to see whether massage therapy is a viable option for MS. They studied a group of 48 patients with MS who were randomly assigned to one of four groups: massage, exercise therapy, a combination of the two, or a control. Patients in the massage group received standard Swedish massage. The exercise group was assigned strength, stretch, balance, and endurance exercises. The third group performed the same exercise program in addition to receiving Swedish massage. The control group was told to continue their standard medical care.

After five weeks of treatment, massage patients had better improvements in pain reduction, dynamic balance, and walking speed compared to the exercise group. Receiving a combination of exercise therapy and massage was also more effective than exercise alone for reducing pain.

Many chiropractors combine massage therapy with chiropractic adjustments and exercise therapy for assisting the management of MS. One recent case report outlined how chiropractic care significantly reduced back and neck pain for patients for MS.

"Chiropractors are in a unique position to provide conservative care as part of a multidisciplinary team," wrote Danielle Southerst of the Canadian Chiropractic Memorial College and lead author of the case study on multiple sclerosis.

This multidisciplinary approach to managing MS may provide patients with the most optimal outcomes.


Negahban H. Massage therapy and exercise therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled pilot study. Clinical Rehabilitation 2013.