ExerciseMassageRheumatoid Diseases

Massage + manipulation to treat scleroderma

In scleroderma (aka systemic sclerosis), immune cells create scar tissue in the skin, internal organs, and small blood vessels.

Researchers from the University of Florence, in Italy evaluated the benefits of a rehabilitation program that combined connective tissue massage and Mc Mennell joint manipulation modified for scleroderma patients’ hands.

First, the details.

  • 40 patients were assigned to a treatment group.
    • A combination of connective tissue massage, Mc Mennell joint manipulation, and home exercise program: 1 hour, twice weekly for 9 weeks
    • Home exercise
  • Both groups were evaluated at the start of the study, after the last treatment, and 9 weeks later.

And, the results.

  • In those who received combination treatment, improvement was significant in the following areas.
    • Hand Mobility in Scleroderma (HAMIS) test to evaluate hand function
    • Cochin hand functional disability scale (to asses daily living activities) at the end of the treatment
    • Health Assessment Questionnaire based on patient responses
    • Physical Synthetic Index (PSI) and Mental Synthetic Index (MSI) of SF-36 scores
  • The home exercise group didn’t improve in these areas.
  • Fist closure improved in both groups.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “The combination of connective tissue massage, Mc Mennell joint manipulation, and home exercise program is effective in the rehabilitative treatment of systemic sclerosis hands. This combined treatment may lead to an improvement of hand function and quality of life.”

Dr. John Mc Mennell is credited with contributing the concept of joint play to manual medicine. It’s defined as movement within a synovial joint — less than 1/8th inch depending on the contour of the opposing joint. More on that is here.

7/3/09 10:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.