Massage for Osteoarthritis: Improve Joint Function, Ease the Pain
As the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage protecting the ends of your bones wears down. Over time, osteoarthritis can damage joints in the hands, hips, knees, and spine. Currently, there is no cure, but there are some natural ways to help ease the pain.
The CDC reported in 2005 that an estimated 27 million American adults had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Symptoms like pain and tenderness in the joints, stiffness, and loss of flexibility can limit movement and force patients to cut back on activities like exercise.
Research Studies on Massage Therapy and OA
Several studies have shown promising results when it comes to the relationship between osteoarthritis and massage therapy. As medicine continues to advance, there is hope that more and more science will emerge that reinforces the impact of massage therapy on osteoarthritis.
- The Journal of American Medical Association highlights a 2006 study in which 68 adults with osteoarthritis were either given massage therapy as treatment for symptoms or given no treatment at all. The adults who received massage treatment saw significant improvement when it came to pain, stiffness, and range of motion.
- The U.S. National Library of Medicine reported on a 2015 study which took place to evaluate underwater and standard massage, along with other spa treatments like hydrotherapy, and their impact on osteoarthritis. 90 patients were analyzed, and 61% saw improvement at the end of the first seven weeks.
- Phase two of the 2006 study showed the effects of Swedish massage on osteoarthritis of the knee. Eligible patients were at least 35 years old in this randomized clinical trial that included eight weeks of treatment. Groups received massage therapy in specific increments for several weeks. Significant improvement was seen in range of motion and amount of pain.
Massage can be helpful for osteoarthritis for several reasons:
- Massage therapy can increase blood flow to areas of the body experiencing pain, like knees.
- Massage can work to flush out toxic substances inside the body.
- Massage therapy can relieve stress and promote relaxation.
- Massage works to target sore muscles by using gentle pressure and deliberate strokes.
How to find a Qualified Massage Therapist
First, ask friends and family for recommendations of massage professionals in your area. Always ask about state licenses and certifications when you meet with the therapist, and ask if he or she is covered by insurance. Thoroughly explain your health history, including how long you have had osteoarthritis, and note any medications you are currently taking.
During the massage session, you should feel free to express any pain you are feeling or if the therapist is using too much pressure. Honest communication is key and important to your well-being and comfort.
Living with osteoarthritis can make days difficult, and the mobility you once enjoyed may be limited. By keeping a healthy weight and exploring natural remedies like massage therapy, the impact of OA on your daily life could be just a little bit less painful.
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