There are many health benefits of massage, but can it ease the pain of arthritis?
Whether you get a massage in serene spa or a treatment room at a physical therapy clinic, it is clear that it has become increasingly popular among people seeking to ease anxiety, improve sleep, or soothe sore joints and muscles.
Research suggests that massage can affect the body’s production of certain hormones linked to blood pressure, anxiety, heart rate and other key vital signs. But is massage safe and effective for people with arthritis?
The answer is yes. Regular massages can be a key part of your arthritis treatment and self-care.
Many people think of massage as a luxury. But for people living with arthritis or related pain, the right type of massage isn’t just a way to treat yourself — it can help with your pain relief. Massages can help reduce pain and inflammation by releasing the muscles around the joints and helping to increase blood flow to them.
Consider these studies:
Knee osteoarthritis (OA): A handful of studies, including a 2018 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, have found massage to be beneficial for people with knee osteoarthritis. The 2018 study, which assigned 200 patients with knee OA into one of three treatment groups, found those receiving a one-hour whole-body massage weekly experienced significant improvement in pain and mobility after eight weeks compared to those receiving light touch or standard care.
Back pain: One of the most common reasons people pursue massage is for low back and neck pain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Research in the journal Pain Medicine found that people with chronic low back pain had improvement in their symptoms after they received a series of 10 massages. They had less pain and were better able to perform daily activities.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Massage therapy can help with inflammatory types of arthritis as well. A case study published in Massage Today found that regular massage helped alleviate pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis and also helped improved joint function, sleep quality, and daytime energy levels.
For people with arthritis and other chronic illnesses, consider thinking of massage not as a sometimes “treat” but rather a part of your overall treatment plan.
Considerations Before You Try Massage
If you’ve decided to try one of the many types of massage as a way to ease your arthritis symptoms, it’s important to consult your rheumatologist or primary-care physician first to ensure that massage is safe for you. Some techniques may involve strong pressure to sensitive tissues and joints or moving limbs into various positions that may be difficult for someone with damaged joints from a disease like rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
Use caution when considering massage if you have:
- Damaged or eroded joints from arthritis
- Flare of inflammation, fever or a skin rash
- Severe osteoporosis (brittle bones)
- High blood pressure
- Varicose veins
It’s also very important to tell the therapist if you are experiencing pain or if you are uncomfortable with the work that is being done. A good therapist will want feedback on what you are feeling during the session, so don’t be afraid to speak up.
Massage should make your pain and stiffness feel better, not worse.
Located near Hermosa Beach? Come and see me for your pain relieving massage. I look forward to working with you!