Benefits of Hand and Foot Massage for Neuropathy
Neuropathy is nerve damage that can cause tingling, numbness, and other sensations, often in the feet and hands. Neuropathy is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Doctors believe it happens because chemotherapy damages healthy cells, including nerves. Chemotherapy can lead to hand and foot neuropathy in many people,says Villines,Z(2018) . The agents in chemotherapy tend to obstruct the capillaries in the fingers and toes, the furthest points in our circulatory system. Chemotherapy molecules can get stuck and clog up those areas, making blood flow difficult.When the nerve endings in the hands and feet don’t get enough oxygen nutrition from blood circulation, they become painful, sensitive, or numb, which can indicate neuropathy.
Not only is massage therapy for neuropathy relaxing for you and your feet, it can also de-stress the nerves that are causing issues such as tingling, numbness, and burning. These discomforts are eased when massaged muscles loosen, placing less pressure on the nerves. At the same time, endorphins that tend to be released with massage acts as your body’s natural painkillers, further minimising neuropathy pain.Other benefits that a massage can have for those with neuropathy include the restoration of mobility that may have been lost due to your condition, as well as an increase in circulation, which helps to bring healing nutrients to your damaged nerves and in turn relieve symptoms.
Research into Massage and Cancer
According to Cancer Research UK(2019) ‘There is no scientific evidence that massage can treat cancer. But it is commonly used to help people feel better, and to reduce some cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.Trials have been carried out to find out whether massage can help people with cancer but many are small studies’.
Most people don’t have any side effects from having a massage. But you might feel a bit light headed, sleepy, tired or thirsty afterwards. Some people can feel a bit emotional or tearful for a while.
Who shouldn’t use massage therapy
People with cancer should avoid very deep massage. Gentler types may be safer.
Some people worry that having a massage when you have cancer may make the cancer cells travel to other parts of the body. But no research has proved this to be true.
Sometimes massage techniques might need to be adapted if you:
are having cancer treatment
are very weak
have bone fractures
have heart problems
suffer from arthritis
are pregnant or breastfeeding
Always talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse before using any type of commercial massage therapy. An adapted treatment offered from a therapist in a cancer care centre or hospice might be more appropriate for you.
Avoid massaging any area of your body where you are having radiotherapy too. And don't massage areas where your skin is broken, bleeding or bruised.
You should avoid general massage therapy to your arms or legs if they are swollen because of lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is a build up of fluid due to the lymphatic system not draining properly. This might be a result of surgery to remove the lymph nodes, or damage to the lymph nodes or lymphatic vessels from radiotherapy.
There is a specific type of massage used for lymphoedema called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). This is a very specialised treatment and people who need MLD are referred to a lymphoedema specialist by their doctor or specialist nurse.
Cancer Research Uk(2019) cited in
The peripheral nervous system. NHS(2019) cited in https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/ Accessed (20.08.22)
What are the best remedies for neuropathy from chemo? (2018) Cited in https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323481#:~:text=Neuropathy%20is%20a%20common%20side,induced%20peripheral%20neuropathy%20(CIPN) Accessed(21.08.22)
Massage for Neuropathy(2021) cited in
https://www.foundationforpn.org/living-well/integrative-therapies/massage/ Accessed 20.08.22)