Benefits of Massage Therapy – Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease 


Parkinson’s disease (PD) occurs when the brain cells which make dopamine, a chemical that coordinates movement, stop working or die. Because PD can cause tremors and affect movement, it is classified as a movement disorder. The symptoms of PD usually begin around age 60 and it is a progressive disease, which means that symptoms slowly worsen over time. 


The cause of PD is unknown. The disease does cause a decrease in dopamine production, which in turn causes a lack of coordination of movement. There is also a genetic factor to the disease.1. 

Symptoms / physical effects: 

Symptoms often start with a tremor in the hand, which is often worse when at rest. Over time, movement slows, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Steps may become shorter when walking and there is often a shuffling gait. Muscle stiffness is common and may occur in any part of the body. Stiff muscles can be painful and limit range of motion. As the condition progresses, posture may become stooped, and balance can become problematic. Many people with PD develop depression.2 

How MT can help: 

Studies have shown that massage therapy can alleviate discomfort by reducing muscle spasms, thereby improving muscle performance. Neuromuscular therapy, a specific type of massage technique, has been shown to improve motor symptoms. People with PD have also had improvements in sleep, pain and fatigue when they receive regular general massage therapy treatments.3 


  2. Damjanov, I. (2017). Pathology for the Health Professionals 5th ed. Elsevier Inc. P.484-485. 
  3. Angelopoulou, E., Anagnostouli, M. Chrousos, G. & Bougea, A. Massage therapy as a complementary treatment for Parkinson’s disease: A Systematic Literature Review, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2020. Volume 49, Mar. 102340, 
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