Massage therapy involves the use of a therapist's hands and sometimes elbows and knees or in some cases hand-held wooden thumbs or rocks along with special ointments and aromas that are directly applied to the body's muscles and soft tissues (5). Its origins date back to over 4000 years as a form of TCM therapy to promote health and prevent disease. It is also a primary treatment in the Ayurvedic system. Similar to acupuncture theory, the direct manipulation of the body tissues is thought to activate the immune system, clear waste products from the lymphatic system, increase endorphin production, and restore chi flow. Though massage therapy is not a proven therapy specifically for PD, the potential benefits often reported include stress reduction, emotional calmness, reduced muscle stiffness and associated pain, along with increased range of motion of the limbs, neck, and trunk and increased energy levels. These benefits are often immediate and relatively short lasting; thus, similar to acupuncture, it may require a regular schedule for maximal, continued benefit. The practice of massage therapy is growing rapidly in the United States with over 125,000
licensed massage therapists. There are over 100 massages or body energy therapies such as deep tissue Swedish, craniosacral, acupressure or Shiatsu, rolfing, myofacial release, reflexology, hot rock, and soft light tissue techniques such as Rekki. Although there are no double-blind, controlled studies supporting massage as a specific treatment of PD, it may have a role as an adjunctive treatment of muscle rigidity and associated pain as well as stress reduction and promotion of a sense of well being.
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