Submissions from Readers

Massage after stroke

Question: Is it okay to get a massage after a stroke that happened recently (only 1 week ago)? Is there a risk of another stroke happening?

Answer: Massage can be beneficial to stroke patients, but some recommendations regarding massage after stroke are as follows:

1) Make sure the neurologist and other M.D.s involved with the stroke patient's care give an okay for the patient to receive massage after a recent stroke.

2) Make sure the massage therapist has medical massage training or is experienced in working with individuals who have experienced stroke.

3) Make sure an accurate history regarding medical conditions is given to the massage therapist including medications

Massage itself does not increase a person's risk for stroke, but there are precautions that need to be addressed with certain individuals. If blood clots exist, there is a small chance they could be dislodged through massage. Individuals on blood thinner bruise more easily so deep tissue massage may need to be avoided. Care should be taken around the neck area in the region of the carotid artery, but this shouldn't be an issue with an experienced massage therapist.

Is Massage Important for Walking After a Stroke

By Anonymous

Question: My best friend had a stroke and can't walk. It affected his left side. He was walking a bit with a walker assisted about 2 months ago but now he says he can't walk and that his leg is stiff and hurts. He
says he needs aggressive massage therapy and he will walk. I don't see how that can make him walk again. I think he needs aggressive exercise therapy and that will help more. Am I wrong about that or not? What will benefit him more?

Answer: Physical therapy involves many techniques to help individuals recover their ability to walk including massage and exercise to name a few. I would say that all aspects of therapy are important. If your friend has high tone in his leg, he may need help with reducing the tone as well as stretching to help him walk again. It's also important to strengthen muscles, but if he has high tone, this will interfere with trying to do strengthening exercises. He may feel that he needs massage to help reduce the tone.

A physical therapist is the professional to consult for learning to walk after a stroke so hopefully that is the professional your friend has consulted. Massage therapy can be a nice adjunct to physical therapy since massage therapists may be helpful in relaxing tight muscles and reducing spasms. I must stress, however, that a stroke patient should seek clearance from their physician to receive massage and that one should choose a massage therapist that has medical knowledge and past experience in working with stroke patients.

*The material contained on this website is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Comments for Massage after stroke

Harsh massage

My husbands massage has him screaming in pain. He had bleed 3years ago, is this safe?

Comment from Massage should not cause your husband to scream in pain. An occasional pain would not be unusual but not consistent pain that causes screaming. If the therapist is being too aggressive, then I would seek a new massage therapist. Sometimes, however, stroke patients may be overly sensitive to touch or movement of certain muscle groups. If this is the case, and massage is too uncomfortable for your husband, then I would seek to manage his pain first.

Massage for Stroke Victims

Question:My mother had an ischemic stoke 5 months ago and I want to buy her a pillow that massages the head, back, and shoulders. Do you think there is any danger in doing so?

Answer: Massage can be quite enjoyable to stroke patients, and it is most likely fine, but I would ask your mother's neurologist just to be sure. Some people have had strokes due to tears in the neck arteries from chiropractic manipulations of the neck or "beauty parlor syndrome" where the neck is bent backward in the sink and turned side to side. I doubt that a massage pillow would put this type of stress on the neck, but I would examine the neck posture when applied and make sure the neck is not in a strained position or overly extended. You also want to avoid massage in the area of the carotid artery particularly if she has carotid artery plaque, stenosis or other carotid artery disease.

Comments for Massage for Stroke Victims

1 1/2 months stroke

Is it safe to use a massage chair? I'm one and a half post-stroke survivor. Thanks in advance. Btw I never went to a neurologist and had never had a CT scan.

Reply from It is unclear how long ago your stroke was from your question (not sure if that is weeks, months, or years). A massage chair generally wouldn't be unsafe for most people. Massage to fragile arteries in the neck (more of a problem in the elderly) or massage to areas that already have an existing clot could potentially be problematic for those with pre-existing issues though this is probably a rare occurrence (I've never heard of this happening from a massage chair, but that doesn't mean it hasn't). Obviously, if someone was severely paralyzed or immobile from a stroke or had sensory issues, then that would require caution as well. I always refer someone to talk to their MD just to make sure especially if they have concerns or had a stroke recently.

What kind of massage is appropriate?

Question: What kind of massage for a recent L CVA with R hemiplegia/ synergistic pattern to increase strength, movement ,coordination in scapular area?

Answer: Before initiating massage with a stroke patient, make sure that it is cleared by their MD. You have to be aware of a patient's medical status and look out for problems such as high blood pressure, recent blood clots or history of blood clots, and edema/fluid problems such as congestive heart failure to name a few. As far as the best type of massage, I would consult a massage therapist that has experience in working with stroke patients. There are many different forms of massage, and one individual may respond better to one type of massage technique than another. Some individuals may enjoy very light pressure and others deeper pressure. It also depends on the size of the individual and skin integrity. If a patient is released by the MD to receive a massage, then you can try various massage techniques and see which the patient enjoys and responds to best. Here are a couple of articles about massage and stroke patients:

Comments for What kind of massage is appropriate?

At home foot spa for haemorrhagic stroke victim

My 60 year old Mom suffered from a haemorrhagic stroke on the left side of her brain,leaving her right side of the body deprived of simple functions. She is still in hospital and family members at home are wondering what things to buy/learn to help her rehabilitation when she,gods willing, can come home safely. In addition to passive massages and active exercises,foot/arm paddle machine,we are also considering buying a water-foot-spa massager from amazon. It supposedly uses varying water pressure to stimulate the soles of ones feet.

Would you say this is a good idea for someone who suffered this particular type of stroke?

Many Thanks.

botox and massage therapy after a stroke

by monica

I'm a massage therapist and I have a client who had a stroke 2 years ago. She is paralysed on her right side from the arm down. Her wrist is really flexed and her fingers curled and the doctor has suggested Botox. Can I give her a massage after she received the Botox? How long should I wait?
Would it help? If we also combine electrical stimulation (by a physio) - would it be a good combination?

Thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Answer: The client would need to ask the doctor how long she needs to wait before receiving a massage after receiving botox, and I would not give her a massage without a doctor's release or written consent. With cosmetic botox, they do not allow any massage during the first 24 hours, but botox for spasticity can be more complex so you need to go by the doctor's specifications. E-stim is often used after botox, but again, I would find out from the physician how soon e-stim can be used and if the patient is an appropriate candidate for e-stim.

Comments for botox and massage therapy after a stroke

post Botox treatment

My activity after Botox has been heat, streching, PT for arm work. I find my EMPI (electro stimulator) quite helpful in working muscles with tone.
In the case of Botox guidance from your Doctor should always be followed
hope this helps
Rick P.

Spasticity and Massage

by Steve McCoy
(Cleveland, Ohio)

Question: What types or areas of massage can help to relieve tension and increase flexibility and strength in left arm/hand of 63 year old female stroke victim?

Answer: Massage might be temporarily helpful in relaxing a spastic muscle or improving range of motion, but since spasticity in stroke patients originates from a problem with the brain, it will not cure it. If a patient can afford to get massage on a regular basis, it may be of benefit, but there are not enough studies for me to tell you what type of massage would be best. It also depends on the patient. Some patients have sensory problems. For instance if a stroke patient lacks feeling in their affected limb, they would not be able to determine the amount of force being applied. Others are hypersensitive to touch and may not like to be touched or massaged at all. I would suggest starting with lighter forms of massage and determine the effects. If tolerated and the patient prefers deeper tissue work, then one could try it but always be aware of any sensation deficits where the patient cannot gauge how much pressure is being applied. I would also make sure you have medical clearance before getting massages. In addition, if the patient has pain or range of motion deficits, make sure the massage therapist handles the limb appropriately. For example you should never force an arm overhead that is tight, painful, or subluxed. The shoulder blade has to rotate properly for the arm to be raised above 90 degrees of shoulder flexion, so make sure your massage therapist understands this.

Comments for Spasticity and Massage

Too broke for a massage therapist

My spouse had a hemorraghic stroke almost five years ago...severe. He's lucky to be with us. We take care of him at home, and yes, I do massage his legs and affected arm twice, three times a day with a simple massage tool. Yes, it increases blood flow, and yes, it is very relaxing for him. No, I didn't check with his doctor (which one, folks?). I'm tired of bad, horrific advice from doctors which make him suffer more. Gentle hands, using a simple massage machine, and an awareness of this rule: If you do nothing, you get nothing. For us who don't have the money, this article was as useful as a fly swatter with holes in it.

Comment from Thank you for the feedback. It is true that many people cannot afford to have a massage therapist, and generally it would be fine for a loved one to give comforting massages to their loved one who has had a stroke. As a healthcare professional, I would still advise checking with a MD (PCP or neurologist is fine) or PT/OT if massage is contraindicated for any reason especially if stroke was recent as there could be an occasional reason why massage may need to be avoided or adapted based on each individual's case, but yes generally it would not be a problem.

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