Neuropathy therapeutic massage is a system of structured palpations or movements of the body’s soft tissues. When the nerves don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients from blood circulation, symptoms like tenderness, tingling, numbness, and pain can present. The best way to move the blood is by massaging the circulation in and around the numb and sore areas and throughout the body. Many types of massage therapy are available for various health-related issues. This includes:
- Pain alleviation and management
- Injury rehabilitation and prevention
- Stress alleviation
- Anxiety and depression therapy
- Immune system restoration
- Increasing relaxation
- Facilitating overall wellness
Neuropathy Therapeutic Massage
Neuropathy therapeutic massage: The objective is to stimulate blood flow throughout the body. This is because the more muscles move, the better they can maintain blood circulation to nourish the nerves and the body, which is why physical activity/exercise/movement is encouraged. Benefits include:
- De-stressing the nerves that are causing tingling, numbness, and burning.
- The discomfort eases as the muscles are lengthened and loosened, releasing the tightness and pressure.
- Endorphins (natural painkillers) are released, minimizing the pain.
- Increase in circulation
- Reduced spasms and cramping
- Increased joint flexibility
- Mobility restoration
- Symptom relief
- Decreased anxiety
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased energy levels
- Improved concentration
- Reduced fatigue
Massaging techniques include:
- Passive stretching
- Active stretching
- This can be firm or light soothing, stroking movements without dragging the skin, using the fingertips or the palms.
- Lifting or picking up muscles and rolling the skin.
- Striking with the side of the hand, usually with slightly flexed fingers, rhythmic finger movements, or short rapid movements with the sides of the hand.
These techniques may be applied with or without massage oils, topical ointments, salt or herbal preparations, hydromassage, thermal massage, or massage instruments/tools.
There are different types of massage, those that are for comfort and those for specific conditions or diseases. A few include:
- Generally regarded as the most common form of massage, this technique involves a combination of five basic strokes and concentrates on the muscles and connective tissues.
- Used to improve circulation, relaxation, pain relief, and overall maintenance and well-being.
- Sports massage therapies are used in preventative and therapeutic settings.
- Athletes use the technique during warm-ups, training, and competition to treat and/or help in:
- Injury prevention
- Improved flexibility
- Full range of motion
- Improved performance
- Helps to focus and mental clarity.
- This technique uses a system of points on the hands, feet, and ears that correspond to or reflex other body areas.
- Reflexologists apply appropriate pressure to these points to stimulate energy flow, to relieve pain or blockages throughout the body.
- Reflexology is also used to ease stress and promote relaxation.
- Various essential oils derived from plants, herbs, flowers, and roots have therapeutic qualities.
- Aromatherapy involves essential oils to produce a certain effect; for example, lavender is used to induce calmness and relaxation.
- When combined with body massage, aromatherapy can enrich the experience immensely.
- A few drops can be added to massage cream or oil and applied to the skin.
- Professional aromatherapists also blend oils to treat specific conditions.
Connective Tissue Massage
- Connective tissue massage is similar to myofascial release in that it involves working with the fascia, or soft tissue, to relieve pain, tightness, and discomfort.
- The theory of connective tissue massage is that tight, restricted body areas negatively affect other body areas.
- Practitioners/therapists hook their fingers into the connective tissue and use pulling strokes to lengthen the tissues.
- This releases tension, improves mobility and reduces stress.
- Deep-tissue massage utilizes slow strokes, direct pressure, and/or friction across the grain of the muscles with the fingers, thumbs, and/or elbows.
- Its purpose is to reach the fascia beneath the muscles going deep into the muscles and connective tissue to release aches and pains.
- Therapists thoroughly understand the human body and have been trained to administer deep-tissue massage.
- The technique is used in treating chronic pain, inflammation, and injury.
- Geriatric massage involves treating the elderly and addressing specific needs related to age, conditions, and illness.
- The sessions are usually shorter and involve gentle techniques to facilitate pain relief, relaxation, and overall wellness.
Lymph Drainage Therapy
- This technique involves the application of light, rhythmic strokes to alleviate various conditions related to the body’s lymph system.
- The lymph system supports the immune system and is responsible for flushing toxins and draining fluid.
- When lymph circulation slows down or stops, fluid can build up and cause physical problems like inflammation, edema, and neuropathies.
- Therapists restore lymph flow by using a mapping system to assess problem areas, then apply gentle pressure using the fingers and hands to reactivate circulation.
- Neuromuscular therapy is massage applied to specific muscles, often used to increase blood circulation, release muscle tension knots/trigger points, and/or release pain/pressure on nerves.
- This therapy is also known as trigger-point therapy in that concentrated finger pressure is applied to specific points to alleviate muscular pain.
Neuropathy therapeutic massage is used in combination to enhance regular medical care. Let a doctor know when trying massage therapies, and follow any standard treatment plans. Some forms of massage can cause soreness the next day but should be combined with a sense of improvement and being healthier. If any part of the massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, let the therapist know immediately. Most serious issues come from too much pressure during the massage or sensitivity or allergy to massage oils. Massage therapy caution includes the following:
- Vigorous massage should be avoided by individuals with bleeding disorders or low blood platelet counts and taking blood-thinning medications.
- Massage therapy should not be done in areas with blood clots, fractures, healing wounds, skin infections, weakened bones from osteoporosis or cancer, or after recent surgery.
- Cancer patients should discuss any concerns about massage therapy with their oncologist.
- Pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider before using massage therapy.
Peripheral Neuropathy Recovery
American Massage Therapy Association defines massage therapy and basic massage therapy terms. www.amtamassage.org
Complementary and alternative methods: types of bodywork. Available at www.cancer.org
Gok Metin, Zehra, et al. “Aromatherapy Massage for Neuropathic Pain and Quality of Life in Diabetic Patients.” Journal of nursing scholarship: an official publication of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing vol. 49,4 (2017): 379-388. doi:10.1111/jnu.12300
National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Samuels, Noah, and Eran Ben-Arye. “Integrative Approaches to Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy.” Current oncology reports vol. 22,3 23. 11 Feb. 2020, doi:10.1007/s11912-020-0891-2
Sarısoy, Pınar, and Ozlem Ovayolu. “The Effect of Foot Massage on Peripheral Neuropathy-Related Pain and Sleep Quality in Patients With Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.” Holistic nursing practice vol. 34,6 (2020): 345-355. doi:10.1097/HNP.0000000000000412
Thomas, Ewan, et al. “Peripheral Nerve Responses to Muscle Stretching: A Systematic Review.” Journal of sports science & medicine vol. 20,2 258-267. 8 Mar. 2021, doi:10.52082/jssm.2021.258
Zhang, Yong-Hui, et al. “Exercise for Neuropathic Pain: A Systematic Review and Expert Consensus.” Frontiers in medicine vol. 8 756940. 24 Nov. 2021, doi:10.3389/fmed.2021.756940
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