Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 11:37:00 AM

Over 20% of Canadian adults suffer from some form of arthritis, and the likelihood of suffering from arthritis only increases with age. Arthritis can cause significant pain which can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life. It can mean that an individual will be unable to enjoy their favourite activities, and it may also mean that an individual is unable to independently live their lives.

Increasingly, physicians are recommending that people consider non-pharmacological options as part of their treatment plan for arthritis. Massage therapy is one effective option that can help people with arthritis reduce their pain and improve their function.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and can negatively affect both physical and emotional wellbeing. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time, and can lead to pain, decreased function and negative impacts on your mental health.

Massage therapy has been shown to decrease pain and stiffness and increase function in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Massage therapy can also help people with osteoarthritis of the knee more effectively perform their regular activities of daily living, which can help improve their quality of life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints and commonly leads to pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis can have a significant impact on regular daily activities and negatively impact someone psychologically as well as physically.

Massage therapy has been found to benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis in a number of ways, including decreased pain, improved grip strength, and increased range of motion. Another beneficial part of the treatment plan for patients with rheumatoid arthritis is regular exercise, which can be beneficial by reducing pain and increasing mobility as well as improving psychological well-being. Recommending exercise is part of a massage therapy scope of practice, and RMTs can recommend an exercise program that would be right for you.

Massage Therapy Can Help

Both massage therapy and regular exercises which can be recommended by an RMT, have been shown to be effective in helping people with various types of arthritis reduce their pain and improve their function. Arthritis can have a significant negative impact on a person’s life, and can prevent someone from participating in the workforce, completing their regular daily activities or enjoying the activities they love. Massage therapy is one of the treatment options that can help people with arthritis be more comfortable and participate more fully in all aspects of their lives.

References

Ali, A., Rosenberger, L., Weiss, T. R., Milak, C., & Perlman, A. I. (2017). Massage Therapy and Quality of Life in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Qualitative Study. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.), 18(6), 1168–1175.

Badley EM, Goulart CM, Millstone DB, Perruccio AV. An Update on Arthritis in Canada - National and Provincial Data Regarding the Past, Present, and Future. J Rheumatol. 2019;46(6):579-586.

Field T. (2014). Massage therapy research review. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 20(4), 224–229.

Nelson NL, Churilla JR. Massage Therapy for Pain and Function in Patients With Arthritis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2017;96(9):665-672.

Ojoawo AO, Olaogun MO, Hassan MA. Comparative effects of proprioceptive and isometric exercises on pain intensity and difficulty in patients with knee osteoarthritis: A randomised control study. Technol Health Care. 2016;24(6):853-863.

Perlman, A., Fogerite, S. G., Glass, O., Bechard, E., Ali, A., Njike, V. Y., Pieper, C., Dmitrieva, N. O., Luciano, A., Rosenberger, L., Keever, T., Milak, C., Finkelstein, E. A., Mahon, G., Campanile, G., Cotter, A., & Katz, D. L. (2019). Efficacy and Safety of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of general internal medicine, 34(3), 379–386.

Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J. J., Rouse, P. C., Hale, E. D., Ntoumanis, N., Metsios, G. S., Duda, J. L., & Kitas, G. D. (2015). Perceived Barriers, Facilitators and Benefits for Regular Physical Activity and Exercise in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Review of the Literature. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 45(10), 1401–1412.

Wasserman A. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Common Questions About Diagnosis and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2018;97(7):455-462. 

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Tags: arthritis, benefits of massage therapy