Massages have a variety of well-documented benefits for problematic issues such as neck and back pain, headaches, and stress, but did you know that massages can also help with chronic pain and symptoms from arthritis? In this article, we explain the benefits of massage therapy for Arthritis.
Massage Therapy for Arthritis
It’s easy to associate massages with helping people to be more relaxed, sleep better, and ease tension in their bodies, but arthritis is on another level entirely and requires several methods of treatment. Arthritis presents a wide range of incessant issues that can never be fully removed, only managed. Joint pain and inflammation that results from arthritis in areas such as the hands and knees can make even the most mundane of tasks a painful, sometimes impossible affair.
Fortunately, for those that suffer from the pain and inflammation that arthritis can cause, massage therapy for arthritis can be a highly effective method for not only managing pain but reducing overall symptoms of arthritis, all without taking a single pill or injection.
How Massage Therapy Helps Arthritis
According to Tiffany Field, Ph.D., massage expert, and director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, massage therapy for arthritis can have positive effects on people that suffer from both moderate and severe arthritis. Research conducted by Dr. Field concluded that even the simplest forms of massage therapy can lead to significant improvements in pain levels, joint stiffness, the range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints in general.
For those that suffer from arthritis, this can lead to a significant improvement in the quality of life — sometimes in as little as one week. While the symptoms are not fully eradicated, simple actions and movements that may have once been unbearable can now be performed with a greatly reduced amount of pain. Opening a jar, walking up stairs, and bending over are just a few examples of movements that can be made easier and with minimal pain.
So how does this work exactly? Research has shown that massages can lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as boosting production of serotonin, which helps to improve one’s mood. A massage can also lower production of neurotransmitter substances often linked to pain, and also improve sleep, a vital component of managing arthritis.
Researchers have not been able to pinpoint consistent and precise reasons as to why massages help with arthritis, but they have been able to document the results in those that suffer from it, and those that regularly receive a massage for their arthritis symptoms are often quick to express their appreciation for what a massage can do for them.
Whether it’s a quick chair massage or a more traditional massage at a spa or massage therapist location, the results are clear — arthritis sufferers have much to gain from a massage.
Best Types of Massage for Arthritis
First off, before scheduling any type of massage for arthritis symptoms, it’s recommended that you consult your rheumatologist or primary care physician to make sure that a massage is right for you.
The best type of massage for arthritis is subjective and depends entirely on your own needs and levels of comfort. You may wish to relieve anxiety and stress caused by dealing with arthritis every day, or you may desire relief for pain and stiffness in a particular area of your body.
Open communication with your massage therapist before during, and after the massage helps them to make necessary adjustments and tailor the massage to what’s right for you. While massage therapists are often able to observe and recognize areas of inflammation beforehand, telling them yourself will only help to improve the experience, and allow them to target certain areas with greater focus.
The most important result of the massage is making your arthritis pain and stiffness feel better, not worse. If you feel pain, the massage method is not for you. It’s also important to remember that massage is not medicine, but rather a complement to your treatment prescribed by your physician. Your massage should always be soothing and relaxing, decreasing your pain and anxiety.
Keys to Ensuring a Beneficial Massage for Arthritis
- Look for a Massage Therapist with Arthritis Experience: A massage therapist who truly understands arthritis and has extensive experience in helping clients deal with the symptoms is always best..
- Describe and Explain Your Pain in Detail: Always be specific about the joints and areas with pain, and also explain the level of pain. If a certain portion or method of the massage is causing you increased pain, immediately tell your therapist.
- Drink lots of water: Massages affect the water flow in your body. They are even more effective when you are adequately hydrated.