Studies show that massage therapy helps arthritis suffers with improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.
In a 16 week clinical trial at the Yale Prevention Center and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ 68 participants who had osteoarthritis of the knee, the joint most commonly affected by osteoarthritis received regular Swedish massage. The 1st four weeks the group received a one hour massage twice a week. The following four weeks they received a 1 hour Swedish massage once a week. After the 8 weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.
Ultimately massage may be shown to lessen a patient’s reliance on medications and decreased health care costs.
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis is an umbrella term that unifies dis-eases that affect the musculoskeletal system. These conditions can be localized in one joint or an area of the body or generalized altering many joints and organs. Those that are localized can affect soft tissue around the joint and include ailments such as tendinitis and bursitis. Localized conditions that affect one or more joints include osteoarthritis. Generalized conditions include fibromyalgia, gout and lupus.
People at risk are those who have had a prior injury. Genetic susceptibility is also a risk factor. If you’re overweight, you are more likely to get osteoarthritis in your lower extremities.
TYPES OF ARTHRITIS
Arthritis is not a single dis-ease, rather there are many different types. All affect the musculosketal system, specifically the joints. They include the following:
A degenerative joint dis-ease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint deteriorates ,causing pain and loss of movement as bone begins to rub against bone. It is one of the oldest and most prevalent forms of arthritis .
Is mainly characterized by inflammation of the lining of the joints. It’s a systemic dis-ease, meaning it can affect other organs of the body, and is chronic. It’s also one of the most serious and disabling types of arthritis.
Occurs when needle-shaped monosodium urate crystals build up in joints and tissues, resulting in joint inflammation. It’s one of the most treatable forms of arthritis and can almost always be controlled with medication and changes in diet.
Is considered a rheumatic condition because it impairs the joints and /or soft tissues and causes chronic pain. It affects mostly women, and is characterized by widespread pain that affects the muscle attachments to the bone.
MASSAGE BRINGS RELIEF, RELAXATION AND SLEEP
In another study by the Touch Research Institute it had those with wrist/hand arthritis receive massages on the affected area once a week for four weeks. They also did self massage daily. A cooling massage therapy lubricant was used which served as a natural analgesic stimulant to soothe the inflamed and swollen tissue.
This group showed lower anxiety and depressed mood scores. After the first and last sessions, and by the end of the study they reported less pain and greater grip strength.
A common thread with pain issues is the lack of deep sleep. When you are deprived of deep sleep, certain kinds of pain chemicals are released. What massage does is organize your sleep. You’re getting more deep sleep and that is where the restorative process is happening.
HEAT OR ICE
There is no definitive choice as to whether to use hot or cold therapies with arthritis. Thereare theories for both. “It’s an individual thing. Some people use ice,some use heat. If it helps go for it.” Says P. White of the Arthritis foundation.
The National Institute of Health treatment recommendations for arthritis include:
- TAKE: glucosamine and chondroitin, these form the building blocks of cartilege, the substance that lines the joints. Early studies indicate that these compounds are safe and may improve arthritis symptoms. More research is underway (www.nccam.nih.gov/research/results/gait/qa.htm) so check with your physician to see what’s best for your specific case.
- EAT a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially antioxidants like Vitamin E. These are found in fruits and vegetables. Get selenium from Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ,garlic,whole grains and sunflowers seeds. Get omega3 fatty acids from cold water fish ( like salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseed, organic canola oil ,organic soy beans/oil, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
I’ve read that eating foods from the nightshade family such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants can aggravate arthritis.
- APPLY capsaican cream(derived from hot chili peppers) to the skin over painful joints. You may feel improvement after applying the cream for 3-7 days.
Arthritis and massage – excerpts by J.M.