Pathologies, Massage and Contraindications Part 7 Multiple Sclerosis – By Vanessa Ragains

During Part 6, we weighed the cautions of working with a client suffering from Lupus. It is an autoimmune disease that attacks its own immune system. The 4 different types vary from being symptoms disappearing to cases of symptoms being uncurable. Due to this, the massage therapist must have a clear understanding of what Lupus is as well as excellent communication with the client. Understanding that making acceptions to your current cancelation policies need to be considered, since their flares may develop right before their session. Lupus is not completely understood and many folks suffer every day! Your flexibility with their scheduled massages might just be what support them during their battle. Coming up, we learn about how clients struggling with Multiple Sclerosis can benefit from Massage therapy.

Pathologies, Massage, and Contraindications Part 7 Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis Defined: MS is a disease in which the myelin sheaths around the motor and sensory neurons in the Central nervous system degenerate. It is idiopathic which means the triggering pathogens causing this vary from each patient who is diagnosed.

Types of Multiple Sclerosis

Benign MS: no progression after a single episode

Relapse/remitting MS: Most common form of MS that fluctuates between flare-ups followed by remission.

Primary Progression MS: This form has a chronic, low-grade progressions that do not come with flares or remission.

Secondary Progression Ms: Similar to Primary progression, yet recovery during remissions are partial as a progressive decline in function transpire.

Progressive/Relapsing MS: This form of MS has a slow and steady decline. The patient suffers from extreme flare-ups.

Malignant MS: This version of MS is rare, but comes with relentless decline which causes disability and death within weeks of the patients diagnosis.  

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Spasm
  • Changes in sensation
  • Optic Neuritis
  • Urologic dysfunction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of cognitive function
  • Depression
  • Digestive disturbances
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Fatigue

Massage Risks: Depending on if your client is in the middle of a flare, will determine whether massage is appropriate. During a flare, the client can experience numbness, tingling, weakness and extreme pain. If this is the case, then gentle bodywork that focuses on relieving any symptoms the client is facing at the time would be best.

Massage Benefits: MS clients who are in the acute stage may benefit from gentle reflective work to relieve their tension and anxiety. The goal, in this case, should not be to create change in the muscle tissue. This can cause the client more pain and discomfort. If the client is in remission, then it is up to them how much pressure you can use. Most MS clients use massage therapy as a strategy for coping with this disease.

My Opinion: I have only worked with a couple clients with MS. Deciding how to create a session that they are going to benefit from should be the main focus for the Massage therapist. Making the client as comfortable as possible and knowing a variety of techniques that can relieve the pain and anxiety that comes along with this disease.

Personally, I do research on specific topics on my own in order to understand how to use Massage to benefit the client. Maybe a different head rest cushion, a certain type of sheet material, or possibly the use of an essential oil to enhance their relaxation during their session.

Bottom line, communication is key in this case! This will build a trust with your client for future sessions. Many clients do not feel comfortable in voicing their discomfort and will just lay there in pain. Recognizing certain signs of body language can be a warning for you to encourage the client to let you know anytime that they are anxious, in pain or need you to decrease your pressure.

Is there a Pathology you would be interested in reading about? I would love your suggestions on certain pathologies that you may need to see in the breakdown. Check back next week for our next discussion on Pathologies, Massage, and Contraindications!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. I am looking forward to reviewing common and uncommon Pathologies that we may encounter on our journey of being a Massage therapist. For all you awesome clients out there, I hope you learn why massage can actually be contraindicated with certain pathologies and precautions you and your therapist need to take.

I LOVE YOUR QUESTIONS!! Please feel free to ask me a question or comment about what you read today. Looking forward to hearing from radical Folks like yourself!


All this information come from one of my must-have books for the massage career: A Massage Therapist Guide to Pathology. 5th Edition Author: Ruth Werner



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