Can Massage Help Neuropathy?

brain and nerves multicolor illustration

Oftentimes people will ask, “Can massage help with this . . .?” Some of the more common questions are about headaches, back pain, & stress. But my clients also want help with issues like Peripheral Neuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy refers to damage to the nerves and peripheral nervous system. (That’s the network of nerves that branch off from your brain & spine, and communicate with all parts of your body).

While it can cause internal issues with organ function or digestion, neuropathy most commonly presents as sensory nerve disruptions: feelings of numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands and feet.

Footprints in sandy beach. Can massage help with neuropathy?

And with motor neuropathy, nerve signaling can be disrupted in three ways. There could be a loss of signal entirely — like when your toe just doesn’t get the message that it should wiggle. There could be an involuntary signal — like if your toe started wiggling when you didn’t tell it to. Or there could be a distorted message — like if you want your toe to grip onto that flipflop but it just clenches a bit.

What are the causes of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Neuropathy can frequently be caused by:

  • tissue injury
  • a chronic disease, such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders
  • medications or chemotherapy
  • and there are emerging reports of people who are dealing with long COVID and experiencing neuropathy.

Neuropathy can be mild and merely annoying, or may be quite painful and debilitating. Your symptoms can vary depending on the severity of damage and the type of nerves involved (motor; sensory; or autonomic – the nerves that regulate unconscious activities like digestion).

Some cases of neuropathy resolve on their own, and others become chronic.

So diagnosing and treating neuropathy can be complex. Since it’s often connected to some other condition, it’s probably most effective to address that primary issue and then consider how to help the neuropathy.

Can massage help?

Maybe, depending on the cause of your neuropathy.

I want to consider how to adapt your massage so that it’s as safe & beneficial as possible. So let’s discuss your individual situation with questions like these:

  • Where are you experiencing the neuropathy?
    Most clients are affected in their feet and/or hands, but it can present elsewhere in your body.
  • How does it affect you (and specifically, how is it affecting you today)?
    Clients may describe their sensation as feeling muffled, as if they are wearing socks or bubble wrap.
  • What does your doctor believe is causing the neuropathy?
    For example, many medications such as chemotherapy can give you neuropathy as a side effect.
  • (Especially if you have neuropathy in your feet) Are you having any breaks in your skin, or a loss of sensation?
    We’ll consider what pressure is most appropriate for you, and guard against infection of any broken skin.
  • How is your doctor treating the neuropathy, and how does the treatment affect you?
    Some medicines might be causing dizziness, so we’ll take that into consideration.

If neuropathy is the result of an injury and your nerves are being squished or traumatized by tight muscles & swollen soft tissue, massage may help ease that muscle tension and promote your healing process.

Massage therapist holding client's left hand and thumb

Moreover, we have lots of studies and anecdotal evidence supporting that massage is beneficial for anxiety & depression. People who are in physical pain are disproportionately faced with emotional distress. And my oncology massage clients are often experiencing anxiety, depression, or similar feelings. So I want to offer you some help!

When you come in for your massage session, you can expect:

  • Skilled therapeutic touch to give you pain relief
  • You’ll be heard and your concerns will be addressed
  • A time of respite from your stress or chronic illness

Massage therapy, for Peripheral Neuropathy or other symptoms, is an awesome complement to your other pain management efforts.

Let me know how I can help you feel better! Contact me today to schedule your next massage.

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