A lady in her 70's came to see me this week who had contracted Parkinson's Disease a few years ago - we'll call her Edith.
Nobody knows what causes the onset of Parkinson's disease (named after Dr James Parkinson who wrote a paper on "Shaking Palsy" in 1817), which is a disease of the central nervous system.
Parkinson's affects less than 0.2% of the genuine population; it rarely affects people under 50, with the average age of diagnosis being 62.
The loss of control of arms, hands and legs which is common with Parkinson's sufferers is caused by a progressive degeneration in the cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that controls motor function, so when it becomes interrupted, the person loses control of movement.
The common symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
The illness is degenerative, but in the early stages, drugs can help to boost dopamine production in the brain and therefore control the muscle tremors.
As muscle tremors increase, the muscles can become over-used causing difficulty in moving and muscle pain.
Manual therapies, like massage or physiotherapy can help reduce the discomfort associated with constant involuntary muscle movement.
Edith's daughter 'phoned for an appointment explaining her Mum's symptoms. I had to tell her that my treatments are quite deep and that Edith might be prefer a more gentle Swedish Massage from another therapist, but the daughter said that Edith's tremors meant that certain areas of muscles in her arms and legs were "rock hard" and sore - Edith preferred her massage hard!
When Edith arrived for treatment, she explained that because she was in an unfamiliar setting and nervous, her tremors would be worse.
Edith's daughter was right - she really did have rock hard areas of muscles from the constant involuntary movement of the same muscles.
Slowly, over the course of an hour, using lots of deep pressure work, her tremors calmed down - so much so that when her son came to pick her up he said, "Wow, Mum, you're not twitching!"
There's no known cure for Parkinson's Disease, so it's a case of managing symptoms as best you can. Deep tissue massage won't be right for everyone, but for Edith it relaxed those areas of hypertonic muscle and gave her some relief from the muscle soreness that she experiences every day.
As ever, if you think I can help, give me a call.