Case Report: Massage Therapy in a 58-Year-Old Woman with MS

A case report evaluated the effect of massage therapy (MT) in a patient with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The patient, a 58-year-old retired woman, reported experiencing fatigue, decreased mobility, left ankle edema, and left lower leg muscle spasms, caused by MS. She had a history of left ankle fracture, torn left knee meniscus, kidney stones, and a cholecystectomy. She reported that medication was being used to manage depression, bladder leakage, and high cholesterol. She was diagnosed with MS 11 years prior, although the specific type was unknown.

The patient said she had previously used MT, as well as yoga and reflexology, to manage MS, and while they gave her relief, they were not included with her home care. Her activity participation was dictated by her fatigue level. She complained of low energy and limited control of her left leg, and she had some low back aches. She hoped to increase her energy and well-being.

The assessment and treatment were provided by a massage therapy student from MacEwan University’s 2,200-hour Massage Therapy program. The assessment covered active and passive range of motion (ROM), myotomes, dermatomes, reflexes, and orthopedic tests; measures used during assessment included the Timed-Up-and-Go test (mobility), the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale (fatigue), and Figure-8 ankle measurement (edema). The student’s techniques included Swedish massage, passive ROM, manual lymphatic drainage, and home-care exercises.

The intervention did not improve mobility, but fatigue level and ankle edema both decreased.

“Further research on the effects of MT on mobility and walking speed in [patients with] MS, and the correlation between MT and exercise, would help massage therapists develop a greater understanding of and ability to design appropriate and effective treatment protocols. Despite limitations in this study, MT appeared to be effective in managing this patient’s symptoms associated with MS,” the study authors concluded.