MASSAGE AND ARTHRITIS
Recent research has shown that regular massage of muscles and joints can lead to significant reduction in pain for people with arthritis. In addition, the simple therapy can reduce stiffness and improve range of motion, hand grip strength, and overall joint function.
Most studies on massage have examined the general population, but lately more and more studies have been focusing on massage as a treatment for arthritis. For example, a 2006 study carried out and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey examined 68 adults with knee osteoarthritis who each received two massages per week for a total of eight weeks and compared them with a group who received no massage. The massage group reported significant improvements in knee pain, function, walking, stiffness, and range of motion.
How Does Massage Work?
While studies increasingly confirm the positive role of massage therapy in treating arthritis, the mechanism is still unclear. Some studies have shown that massage can lower production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of serotonin, which can improve mood. Other research has shown massage can lower production of neurotransmitter substance P. This in turn can improve sleep quality and reduce pain. Recent studies are even beginning to show that massage reduces the presence of inflammatory cytokines responsible for arthritis symptoms, though the mechanism is unclear.
Further research will be needed in order to fully understand how massage lowers stress and alleviates arthritis symptoms, but it’s clear so far that massage can help people with arthritis to feel better.
Check with Your Doctor
It’s important to remember that though massage can help deal with arthritis, it’s not medicine. A massage therapist is not a substitute for a doctor. It’s always best to talk to your doctor first before using massage to help deal with your arthritis. Your physician can recommend most effective massage therapy for your arthritis, and help you make sure you don’t do anything to exacerbate your symptoms. A doctor can also help to make sure you can qualify for reimbursement if your insurance policy covers massage.
Communicate with Your Massage Therapist
It’s equally important to be clear with your massage therapist about your arthritis. When you make your appointment, tell your therapist you have arthritis, and be as specific as possible about your symptoms. Make sure you tell your therapist which joints your arthritis affects. Before, during, and after the massage, make sure to communicate any pain, relief, problem areas, or good results. Keep an open dialogue with your therapist.
Remember, massage should make your arthritis pain and stiffness feel better, not worse. If it’s not making you feel better, don’t do it. The right massage for you should make you feel more relaxed and content.
Massage Comes in All Different Kinds
From the 15-minute chair massage at the mall, to the 2-hour long hot stone and aromatherapy massage at a luxury spa, there are all types of massage available to you, so make sure you find one that fits your needs and makes you feel better. Swedish massage involves long, gentle stroking of muscles and tissues, while deep tissue massage often uses intense, focused pressure by the therapist to relax deeper layers of muscle. Reflexology and trigger point massage can be helpful for some people as well.
The American Message Therapy Association recommends you ask any prospective therapists if they’re licensed, if they’re certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), where they received their training or if they graduated from a program accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, and if they’re trained in any specific massage techniques.
Massage in Vancouver WA
If you are in the Vancouver WA area, it would be our pleasure to accommodate your massage preferences! You can browse our variety of massage services here and of course feel free to call or email with any and all questions!