Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2013

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education classroom to client | Pathology perspectives | body awareness | functional anatomy | somatic research Let the Sun Shine In MS Basics MS is a progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS). It is now widely understood to be an autoimmune disease, but as recently as the early '90s many specialists didn't agree on its pathophysiology. It was treated with anything and everything—from massive doses of vitamin B to hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Now, experts agree that MS occurs when various immune system cells, antibodies, and destructive cytokines mistakenly attack the myelin that surrounds neuronal fibers in the CNS. Readers may remember that myelin is a waxy substance that helps to speed and insulate electrochemical nerve transmissions along neuron fibers ("MS: Easing Symptoms with Informed Massage," November/ December 2012, page 56). The myelin in the CNS is produced by glial cells called oligodendrocytes. When these cells are under attack, they multiply in an attempt to repair the damage, but eventually they may fail. At this point, myelin in the brain and spinal cord is replaced with scar tissue in numerous patchy areas—hence, "multiple sclerosis." Electrical impulses cannot travel efficiently along neurons with faulty myelin; essentially they shortcircuit. If flares repeat in the same areas, damage may penetrate through to affect the nerve tissue directly. In this case, lost function is probably permanent. Multiple Sclerosis, Vitamin D, and Massage Therapy By Ruth Werner MS is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the United States. Some recent discoveries may explain one of the biggest mysteries about MS, and inform our work as we consider both anecdotal and clinical findings about the role of massage for this condition. Carrie began to lose bladder control at age 27. A year of doctor visits with a general practitioner, OB-GYN, urologist, and neurologist eventually led to her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). By age 35, she needed crutches to get around; by age 40, she was confined to a wheelchair. Carrie is in her mid-50s now. Her condition is stable, but the nerve damage is permanent; she won't walk again. 46 massage & bodywork may/june 2013

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