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Regular Massage Helps MS Sufferer Maintain Mobility, Manage Pain

The gift of massage can be a nice treat to show a friend or family member that you love and appreciate them. But when Joyce Degnan was given a gift certificate for a massage at Elements Scottsdale Promenade from her friends for her 50th birthday, she received more than a token of friendship. She received a life-changing therapeutic session that gave her tight, tense muscles relief like she had never experienced before.

“It was seriously the best massage I ever had,” explained Joyce. “My girlfriends and I have gone to resorts and had different types of massages before. But I’ve never had a massage or experience like I did at Elements. I signed up for the membership after my first massage because I couldn’t believe how wonderful I felt.”

Five years later after first visiting the Elements Scottsdale Promenade studio, massage continues to be a main component to Joyce’s wellness and pain management plan as she battles the chronic tightening of her leg and hip muscles due to multiple sclerosis. Joyce visits her favorite massage therapist, Sandra Frey, every two weeks for therapeutic total body massage sessions that help increase her circulation, mobility and mental relaxation.

“Joyce is such a sweet person and it doesn’t seem like her multiple sclerosis stops her at all,” says Sandra. “She doesn’t complain a lot about pain, but she does suffer from muscle stiffness. I focus on giving Joyce a therapeutic massage that helps loosen her muscles, while giving her some stress relief as well.”

Joyce, 55, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 15 years ago. She’s thankful that her condition isn’t as bad as others with this crippling disease since she can still walk on her own, even though she has to use a cane most days.

As a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis is known for causing muscular weakness, loss of coordination, and even speech and visual disturbances. Multiple sclerosis for Joyce means that she deals with severely tightened muscles that have a constant tingling sensation like when your foot falls asleep and is just waking up. Joyce’s muscles also can feel like constant charley horses that never really go away until she receives a therapeutic massage.

“With MS, your muscles become extremely tight,” says Joyce. “I literally walk with a stiff leg and I drag my left leg along as I go. It doesn’t bend or move. When I get a massage, it really helps loosen up my muscles and helps me move better.

"There are days when I see Sandra to get a massage and I can literally walk out of Elements without my cane. I come into the parking lot using a cane and I leave without needing one. It’s just amazing.”

The type of massage that works best for Joyce is a gentler massage that has some deep tissue elements associated with it, but not too deep to cause further soreness and pain in Joyce’s already tender muscles. Joyce enjoys Sandra’s softer touch and gentler approach to massage therapy. Sandra always knows what to work on to make her feel better physically and relax her mentally, Joyce says.

“I focus on giving Joyce a therapeutic experience that includes medium deep tissue massage with some myofascial release techniques incorporated as well,” explains Sandra. “We focus a lot during the session on her hips and back area. But we find things along the way that are bothering Joyce and pursue those areas, too.”

In addition to the pain relief that Joyce experiences with massage, she also enjoys the stress relief benefits associated with relaxing her body and mind during the session. As an in-home daycare provider for 22 years and a single mom who has raised five kids of her own, Joyce spends the majority of her day bending and lifting small children and dealing with the stress of caring for young kids.

After a long work week of enduring physical and mental challenges, she looks forward to visiting the studio where she can shut out the outside world and focus on reviving and rejuvenating her mind and body.

“The whole experience at Elements is excellent and Sandra is such a wonderful therapist,” shares Joyce. “Every time I walk into the studio, I am welcomed with soothing soft music and dimmed lights. Your whole attitude just changes and you can just close off the whole world.

Joyce hopes that other people suffering from multiple sclerosis will seek out the gift of massage therapy to help manage their pain and increase mobility.

"Until you’ve had a good massage," she says, "you just don’t realize how good you can feel.”

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