With so many people suffering from arthritis, wouldn’t it be great if there were a natural therapy that could help alleviate pain and soreness?
Massage can reduce pain of arthritis
Fortunately, there is! According to studies conducted at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, regular massage of muscles and joints can lead to a significant reduction in pain for people with arthritis. Studies showed regular use of massage led to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of joints.
A 2006 study at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey examined 68 adults with knee osteoarthritis receiving two Swedish massages per week for eight weeks, compared to a group who received no massage. The massage group reported significant improvements in knee pain, stiffness, function, range of motion and walking.
In addition, massage also benefits people with hand or wrist arthritis, according to another 2006 study. A 15-minute, moderate pressure massage per day led to reduced pain and anxiety and increased grip strength for 22 participants as measured on comparative pre- and post-therapy tests.
A 2007 report by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) showed that most people who try complementary therapies, such as massage, do so for back and neck pain. A number of studies confirm that massage is effective for back and neck pain, including one published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers, who looked at 401 people with chronic low back pain, found that massage reduced their pain, and that benefits lasted at least six months.
The study concluded that the type of massage wasn’t important, that different types all worked about the same. The most important thing, the study found, was the amount of pressure. Stimulating pressure receptors, nerves under the skin that convey pain-reducing signals to the brain with moderate pressure, leads to reduced symptoms.
Massage also helps with RA
What about individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – is massage recommended? Massage therapy is traditionally used for improving flexibility and circulation, stress and anxiety, but some RA patients may still shy away, worrying that massage will be painful. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases says that massage, when done by a trained professional, can help control pain, increase joint motion and improve muscle and tendon flexibility.
Communication between the therapist and the client is important, however, because each person has different pain tolerances. A deep tissue massage is probably not a good idea for a person with RA, because it may be too intense and cause more pain and stiffness for some patients.
For clients with RA, there’s evidence that getting a massage once a week for a month, then scaling back to monthly, is enough to reap the benefits of massage. In the early stages of RA, massage can even help slow down the disease progression.
With some kinds of arthritis, especially RA, you may want to talk to your doctor first before receiving massage. Regardless of the type of arthritis you have, massage is not going to cure you, but it can relieve pain and help you stay active longer.