The Effect of Massage Therapy on Postural Dysfunction Exacerbated by Parkinson’s Disease

Posted:Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bronze Winner
Keiko Marumo
MacEwan University
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Background: The causes that lead to low back pain (LBP) vary, and include poor
postural alignment, muscle fatigue, and chronic conditions. Deviations from
balanced upright posture can result, leading to hypertonicity in compensatory
muscles. With increased kyphosis and forward head posture, affected tissues
include scapular retractors and anterior cervical muscles. With decreased lumbar
lordosis, affected tissues include lumbar, trunk and hip muscles. Conditions such
as Parkinson’s disease (PD), can exacerbate LBP, since a common sign of it is
postural change.
Objective: To show that massage therapy is effective in reducing LBP by
applying relaxation, myofascial release (MFR), mobilization, and stretching
techniques, and hydrotherapy heat to postural misalignment resulting from PD.
Methods: A 55-year-old male diagnosed with PD in 2012, presented with
shooting LBP in the left lumbar region after lifting a heavy gate. Clinical analysis
suggested muscle strain exacerbated by postural changes related to PD. The
treatment aim was to decrease LBP in the affected muscles. The treatment plan
involved 50-minute sessions of massage, once a week, for five weeks. Techniques
included hydrotherapy heat application, relaxation techniques, MFR techniques,
passive stretches, and passive mobilizations. The treatment was provided by a
second year massage therapy student.
Results: The patient reported an overall decrease in pain intensity, by rating pain
descriptors. The patient also reported a general decrease in disability caused by