Massage therapy can be a great helper with arthritis. Arthritis is a generic term used to identify more than 200 conditions that affect the joints of the body, the tissues adjacent to those joints, and connective tissue. Fibromyalgia, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are some of the more common manifestations of arthritis.
Causes of arthritis
While there is no one cause of arthritis, it has been speculated that some of the following things may contribute to its development:
- Injury to a joint that causes it to degenerate
- Atypical metabolism that leads to the development of gout
- Genetic factors that predispose a person to arthritic conditions
- Infections such as Lyme disease that cause arthritis
- An immune system that is overactive, causing a person’s body to turn on itself.
Symptoms of arthritis
- Pain in and around joints or diffuse pain in multiple parts of the body
- Red and swollen joints
- Stiffness after inactivity and especially first thing in the morning
- Pain and difficulty moving a joint.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and massage therapy
A collaborative study done in 1996 by researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami Children’s Hospital and Duke University Medical School found that massage therapy helped children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Their pain lessened and their cortisol levels decreased, indicating less they were feeling less stress.
Massage therapy helps arthritis sufferers
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says that massage is one of the most widely accepted holistic therapies. Research has shown that massage has a positive effect on our bodies’ production of hormones that are important in blood pressure, heart rate and other essential functions in the body.
Research has also shown that massage can have the following effects on persons with arthritis:
- Helps with lessening pain and anxiety
- Increases range of motion
- Lessens stiffness
- Significantly improves knee pain
- Makes walking easier
- Lessens wrist and hand pain and increases grip strength.
Best types of massage therapy for arthritis sufferers
Massage therapy for person with arthritis needs to be adjusted to each individual’s condition. Heavier forms of massage may be well-tolerated in some areas of the body, but intense pressure on overly-sensitive joints and the tissues surrounding those joints may be hurtful.
It is important that a massage feel good and not cause undue pain to joints and tissue that will last well beyond the massage. The ‘feel good’ type of massage increases massage therapy’s benefits such as the reduction of cortisol, and the release of endorphins, nature’s pan killer.
Massage therapy cautions
Before getting massage therapy consult with your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
- Varicose veins
- Brittle bones
- Untreated high blood pressure
- Joints that have been damaged or worn down by arthritis
- Skin rashes or fever.
None of these conditions except fever and skin rash precludes your getting a massage. It is important to wait until the rash clears and the fever is gone before getting a massage as a massage can exacerbate both conditions. A massage therapist will want to know about the other conditions in order to be able to work around them in designing your therapy.