Complementary Therapists Association - Forums
Posted Nov 1 2010 9:47PM

Please do not use forums to advertise courses.

Forums Disclaimer

Massage for musculoskeletal problems?

I have taken anti-psychotic drugs for about 20 years (mainly Stelazine, Fluphenazine Decanoate and Olanzapine). However I suffered with side effects that affected my muscles and or skeleton. So I had stiff legs, clicking elbows, seized up feet and a bad back and can click my vertebrae. It can be painful but I put up with it.

At various times I have been given medication for pseudo-Parkinson's symptoms or told I was suffering from dystonia, both of which are side effects from these medicines.

My current GP says that the painful back and clicking vertebrae are due to stress, and it is quite common for people suffering from stress to have this condition.

Some time ago a consultant psychiatrist said massage could be beneficial for the side effects affecting my muscles. I have bought a massage chair. The massage chair is good and helps to relax my muscles. So I booked a massage with a licensed masseuse. Before she would touch me she asked lots of questions about my reasons for wanting a message and medical history etc. She was very polite and understanding. However, we could not determine which massage would be most beneficial to me (see below). So she gave my upper back a gentle soothing massage, it helped with my back being more supple for a while.

However, the medication can cause pseudo-Parkinson's symptoms. The Internet provides advice that deep penetrative massage (sports massage) should not be used with people with Parkinson's. Mainly the side effects I had were labelled dystonia although I was prescribed tablets for Parkinson's. Although now my GP says it is just stress which is affecting my back.

So really if someone has musculoskeletal problems due to side effects from anti-psychotics, could you find out what sort of massage would be most beneficial in words that a masseuse would understand? Or even better which physiological symptoms should be considered in making a decision as to which massage techniques to avoid?
Elizabeth Rabone
Nov 3 2010 9:50PM
You don't say whether or not you're still taking the medication. If you're still taking it, I'm not sure whether any form of massage would be very effective, as you'd still be suffering the reaction to the medication.
Amanda Clegg
Nov 11 2010 8:43AM
Elizabeth's point is valid, however I would still press on with swedish massage, which doesn't have to be as deep as sports massage. Yes you may still get side effects, but hey, those need treating, so it may be the case that you will benefit from regular massage to help you cope.

Any good therapist will have a wide range of techniques at his/her disposal and will be able to tailor a treatment to suit you - there is no need at all to stick to one type of routine. It sounds as if the therapist you consulted was sticking too rigidly to a 'menu' of treatments instead of mixing and matching. I use basic Swedish with sports/remedial add-ons where necessary such as trigger point and soft tissue release. I rarely use the very gentle Aromatheropy Massage routine (exept on some of my very elderly clients, or one with MS) as it just doesn't get into the muscles enough. I'm not sure that the deep work which is said to be not good for Parkinsonism would necessarily need to be avoided for you - you do not have Parkinsons!

It may also be worth seeking out a therapist with the above skills and Aromatherapy, as some of the warming/anti-inflmmatory essential oils can be extremely useful in massage where there is joint pain and muscle tension.

Please keep us posted of your progress!

Kind regards

CThA Administrator
Nov 11 2010 9:54AM
Hi the original poster has asked me to post a response on the forum:

I am still taking the medication. I have had a couple of short breaks from the medication. My understanding is that some other people who suffer from the effects of child abuse in adulthood, as I do, get off the medication eventually.

In my original post, and I apologise if I did not make it clear, I meant to say that the massage chair gives me some respite from the contracted muscles on one part of my back. My muscles in the whole of my body are contracted by the medication. I did not mean to imply that it may cure me from the side effects of the drugs I take. My interest lies in getting a brief period of relief from unpleasant side effects of the medication I take.

If and when I get a break or finally get off the medication I would like to recover as quickly as possible from the medication. Then my situation will be different in that I will not have a daily dose of a chemical which contracts my muscles without releasing them.

I have read on
"People with dystonia should exercise extreme caution in considering traditional chiropractic care to address their dystonia symptoms.
Because of the nature of chiropractic adjustments and the nature of dystonia, there is some clear potential for harm. Gentle massage may help temporarily alleviate muscle tension, but before seeking treatment from a chiropractor or massage therapist (or any complementary therapy
practitioner) you must be completely confident that the practitioner fully understands dystonia and the implications of your individual symptoms. This may involve providing materials to the practitioner, sharing the DMRF’s web address, or inviting the practitioner to contact your movement disorder specialist. "

Also on
"Parkinson's patients experience progressive stiffness and rigidity of voluntary muscles. Rigidity is safe for massage, especially when sensation is present, but it is important to remember that this comes about because of a CNS dysfunction, and won't be completely resolved, even with the most brilliantly applied bodywork.
Several different modalities have been quantifiably researched in the context of parkinsonism, including Trager, Alexander Technique and Swedish massage with specific muscle exercises. All modalities report improvement in function, from the reduction of rigidity and improvement of sleep, to the reduction of tremor and increase of daily activity stamina.
It is important to work in cooperation with a client's primary physician, because massage may impact the need for antidepressants and other medication. Be aware, however, that clients with Parkinson's disease do not have the freedom of movement that most other people do, and they may have great difficulty in getting on and off tables safely.
Some massage therapists address this by working with these clients on chairs or floor mats. "

However I am unsure as what exact musculoskeletal condition I am suffering from as the distinction is blurred to me. To me it looks like a bunch of similar musculoskeletal conditions which are sort of induced by medication. So therefore I do not know what to tell my massage practitioner. Maybe I am on the wrong forum, I was directed here by Rethink perhaps I should be asking DMRF .

I really would like to know what to tell my massage practitioner.

Kindest regards.

Post Reply |

| Back Up to Questions from Members of the Public