Massage Therapy as a Complementary Treatment for Stiffness and Numbness Post Cervical Spinal Cord Injury: a Case Study
Introduction: Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) commonly result in pain, stiffness, weakness and numbness. There are limitations in the ability of the standard medical approach to manage many symptoms of SCI. This case study examined the effects of massage therapy as a “complementary” therapy to treat post-operative numbness and stiffness after removal of a cavernous hemangioma intermeshed with a 26-year-old male patient’s spinal cord.
Methods: The patient received eight, one-hour therapeutic massage sessions over five months. Therapeutic massage techniques were performed by a Board- Certified Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Therapist and consisted of cranial sacral, Swedish, myofascial release, trig-ger point therapy, and passive stretching. Symptom intensity was recorded prior to each session on a qualitative scale (1–10) and was trended over the course of the study.
Results: There was a slight decrease over time in left-arm and back numbness, as well as neck and upper body stiffness. The patient viewed therapeutic massage to be a beneficial component to his recovery.
Discussion/Conclusion: Massage therapy should be considered as an adjunct therapy as part of a rehabilitation plan to address numbness and stiffness post-SCI. Further research is needed to understand the effects of massage therapy on SCI numbness and stiffness.
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