The effects of massage therapy on multiple sclerosis patients' quality of life and leg function

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014:2014:640916. doi: 10.1155/2014/640916. Epub 2014 May 8.


Background. Massage therapy is a noninvasive treatment that many individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) use to supplement their conventional treatment. Objective. We hypothesize that massage therapy will improve the leg function and overall quality of life (QoL) of MS patients. Design. A two-period (rest, massage) crossover design was used. Twenty-four individuals with MS ranging from 3.0 to 7.0 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) received Swedish massage treatments for four weeks. Exercise capacity and leg function as well as QoL were assessed using the Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) and the Hamburg Quality of Life in Multiple Sclerosis (HAQUAMS) instrument, respectively. Assessments were measured before and after a massage period and a rest period where no massages were employed. Results. The results displayed no significant changes in 6MWT distances or HAQUAMS scores. However, the participants perceived improvement in overall health as expressed in written comments. Conclusions. Massage is a safe, noninvasive treatment that may assist MS patients in managing the stress of their symptoms. Future studies with larger sample size and cortisol measures are warranted.