Parkinson’s Disease and Massage/Exercise Rehab
by Natalie Rinaldi
I thought I would do another reflective piece for my blog this time round again. Recently, I have had a few clients within the past few weeks present to me with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s is more common in people over the age of 65 years and currently affects 110,000 Australians which really is a large number, but considering Australia has approx. 24 million having 4 clients, 3 under the age of 65 in a span of 3 weeks come to me with the condition is extremely rare and quite sad to see. So I wanted to write this blog to just reach out to those who may be suffering from Parkinson’s that there are ways to treat you, unfortunately cannot get rid of the disease (wish I could) but ways to minimise discomfort, pain and symptoms you may be unfortunate in getting.
For those who do not know of Parkinson’s, it is a disorder which affects the nervous system. The nerve cells in the brain which control movement are affected over time thus decreasing movement as well as muscle activity within the body. When the production of Dopamine (the chemical transmitter in charge of sending messages between cells and the brain) is declined in production, messages and transmission to and from the brain gets disrupted and Parkinson’s occurs. People who suffer from Parkinson’s have difficulty controlling movement with things such as spasms and tremors, lack of strength, poor gait, slower reaction times and overall movement and difficulty with balance and issues with muscle such as chronic muscle pain and stiffness as well as internal disruptions with constipation and gastrointestinal problems. Parkinson’s also affects the area of the brain which controls memory and can alter sleep patterns and routines, often also leading people to be affected emotionally with anxiety and depression.
There is no known cause of Parkinson’s and also no specific known cures. And unfortunately no way to get rid of the condition. Usually doctors prescribe medication to help increase sleep, decrease depression and medication to alter pain, however this medication does not decrease Parkinson’s just alters the feeling of some symptoms. Brain surgery is an extreme treatment however does not have a 100% success rate of completely getting rid of Parkinson’s. Modifications to work and current lifestyle are usually done with most Parkinson’s affected patients, as most cannot physically work as they once did, or may have difficulty eg. If their jobs involve heavy lifting, long hours of driving, walking or moving a lot. A job more suited to Parkinson’s patients would include ones with minimal movement and excessive load. Changes and modifications also to diet have proven to help decrease Parkinson’s symptoms. Doctors usually aware Parkinson’s victims with the dos and don’ts of eating however again, does not get rid of the condition, just minimises symptoms.
As first stated, I have had 4 Parkinson’s affected clients present to me within the past 3 weeks, which has influenced me to write and reflect on this horrible condition. While there is no way to get rid of the disease, physical treatment is also a way to reduce symptoms of muscle pain and tightness, and in some cases reduce tremors. Although shaking and tremors are caused from the brain, excessive tightness and aggravation of muscles can make these tremors excessively worse, and I have had previous success in reducing these symptoms in clients of mine. By applying a firm pressure and using a solidified connective tissue release technique, I have had success in providing relief to clients with tightness and pain associated with the disease, as well as decreased rate of tremors in specific areas of the body. If muscles are aggravated excessively through the disease, they can put a lot of strain on not only surrounding muscles, but the surrounding nerves which connect to the spinal system and brain which alternatively causes the brain to be aggravated more increasing further possible tremors. Don’t get me wrong, the shaking and tremors do not fully go, however if hands on treatment makes a client feel relief and stop some symptoms, I think that is a massive success.
Going from having control of your whole body and brain, to over time having you brain and body control you, as you can imagine would be a horrible feeling, and not knowing the cause means it can happen to anyone. If you are suffering from Parkinson’s, or know someone who is, send them in to me at Melbourne Muscular Therapies, and we will work together to reduce symptoms and pain and fight Parkinson’s Disease.