June 26, 2014

Abdominal massage for the alleviation of constipation symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled feasibility study


Constipation affects many people with multiple sclerosis (MS), negatively impacting on their quality of life. The use of abdominal massage has been reported in several populations and has been shown to increase the frequency of defaecation. The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of undertaking abdominal massage in people with MS. McClurg D, Hagen S, Hawkins S, Lowe-Strong A. Mult Scler. 2010 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print]

The authors investigated the feasibility of abdominal massage as constipation management measure in patients with MS. 30 patients with constipation were randomly assigned to either receive advice on bowel management alone or advice on bowel management in addition to daily self/carer delivered abdominal massage. The massage group participants were provided with advice on bowel management, and they or their carers were taught how to deliver abdominal massage and were recommended to perform it daily during the 4-week intervention period. The control group received bowel management advice only.

Outcome of both interventions was measured with standardised constipation scoring systems. Both groups demonstrated a decrease in constipation scores from Week 0 to Week 4, indicating an improvement in constipation symptoms; however, the massage group improved significantly more than the control groups. This small pilot study suggests that self/carer delivered abdominal massage may be helpful in management of constipation for patients with MS.

National Research and Programs