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Reflexology May Provide Relief for MS-Associated Parentheses


The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) released new guidelines in taking an evidenced=based look at complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) in the setting of multiple sclerosis (MS).

According to the recommendations, magnetic therapy may alleviate fatigue; and reflexology could ease parentheses. Dr. Vijayshree Yadav said that the safety of some of these approaches is unknown and that, “There is not enough information to show that CAM therapies do or do not interact with prescription MS drugs.”

Parentheses is a sensation of tingling, tickling, prickling, pricking, or burning of a person’s skin with no apparent long=term physical effect. Parentheses may be transient or chronic.

The new guideline, from the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the AAN, is published in the March 25 issue of Neurology. The panel classified the therapies into cannabinoids, mind-body medicine (examples being, biofeedback, hypnosis) biologically based practices (glucosamine, linoleic acid), manipulative and body-based practices (yoga, massage therapy), and energy medicine (naturopathic practices).

Dr. Yadac stressed that the studies did not show a difference in objective measures of pain and spasticity – only subjective changes as reported by patients. However, the Ashworth scale used in studies as an objective measure may be insensitive to spasticity change.

The reviewer evaluated 4 studies (1 class I, 2 class II, and 1 class III) of reflexology, which involves applying manual pressure to points on the feet. They found that reflexology is possibly effective for reducing MS-associated paresthesias over 11 weeks but that data are inadequate to assess its use for pain, quality of life, disability, spasticity, fatigue, cognition, bowel or bladder function, depression, anxiety, or insomnia in MS.

Magnetic therapy could be effective for fatigue but not for depression, the panel concluded. The number of patients with MS using 1 or more CAM therapies is “huge, easily up to 80%,” Dr. Yadav expressed.

That is why at Massage Specialties CEUS we support massage specialties and encourage massage therapists to bring their massage therapy practice to a higher level through massage therapy specialization. Reflexology may open the door to new opportunities for your massage therapy practice.