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Benefits of Massage for Arthritis Patients

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Benefits of Massage for Arthritis Patients

Arthritis is a term that is used to describe joints disorders. There are over 100 types of arthritis, but the most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can occur at any age. It affects hands and feet, by limiting their movement or in worst cases no movement at all. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is more common in old age. It affects the knees, hips, and fingers. Other types of arthritis include fibromyalgia, septic arthritis, gout, and lupus. There are different treatments for each kind of arthritis, but all of them are based on different massage techniques and physiotherapies.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Common symptoms of arthritis include frequent joint pain, stiffness, swelling of a particular joint, decreased range of motion, redness, and warmth. In old age arthritis is common, but still, there are ways to prevent it so you can enjoy the livelihood of your old age with your friends and grandchildren. However, arthritis cannot be prevented for a long time until you have been very careful about your movements, posture, and diet all throughout your life.

About 0.24% of people get affected by rheumatoid arthritis, whereas 3.8% of people suffer from osteoarthritis. It is one of the major reasons behind missing work and leading a life with low quality of health and performance at work. Some days are really hard for arthritis patients when the pain is hard to manage. With lots of pain, arthritis brings along depression, stress, and anxiety.

Massage to Treat Arthritis

Either massage is conducted at a spa or some local clinic; a lot of people use this therapy to soothe sore joints and muscles. Massages are a great way to soothe the nerves and get a better night’s sleep. People who have arthritis can take advantage of regular massage sessions. A lot of physicians and medical health practitioners are working in this regard and working on finding out more ways to soothe arthritis patients. One thing has to be kept in mind that all massage techniques cannot be applied to everyone. You have to be precise and focused according to the patient’s requirements.

With regular use of simple massage therapy, patients have reported great improvement in pain, the range of motion, stiffness, grip, strength and overall function of their joints. In the year 2006, a study was conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey related to arthritis patients. A group of 68 arthritis patients was given two sessions of Swedish massage every week; for eight weeks. On the other hand, there was a group of arthritis patients, who did not receive any massage. After eight weeks, the group that was given massage reported significant improvement in stiffness, function, pain, the range of motion and movement in their problematic joint. This shows that sooner or later you are going to feel better and healthier after taking regular massage sessions.

There was another study that focused on wrist arthritis in women. They were given four massages per week by a famous therapist for 15 minutes only. These massages were of moderate pressure which resulted in reduced pain and better functionality. Women also reported improved grip and strength in their wrist just after four weeks.

How do Massages Work?

When we say that massages reduce pain and anxiety, most of us want to know how exactly massage work and improve the functionally of an individual. A friendly and soothing touch can relieve pressure on your nerves. In the same way, massages lower the production f stress hormone called cortisol in the body. On the other hand, it boosts the production of serotonin that eventually improves the mood of an individual. Massages tend to lower the neurotransmitter substance production in the body that is directly linked to pain. When an individual’s tendency to feel pain reduces, he can sleep better which ultimately relaxes the brain, muscles, and joints.

Cortisol is the key stress hormone, but we cannot say that if the cortisol level is high, then the person is suffering from stress even after having regular massage sessions. Massage may be working some other way round. However, one thing has to be understood that all massage techniques are not made for all arthritis patients. Some techniques involve strong pressure while some need to be dealt with care as there are sensitive tissues and joints involved.


It is advised that you tell all about your medical history to your doctor. We advise telling everything to your massage therapist as well. Tell them about all the major issues; such as:

  • If you have blood pressure issues
  • If you have varicose veins
  • In case you have eroded or damaged joints
  • In case you have skin rash or fever because some massages involve use of different oils

It is always good to have yourself a treat of focused massage therapy once in a while even if you are not an arthritis patient. You can relieve all the pressure and stress of the body and prepare yourself for the upcoming challenges of work or social life.

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