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How to Manage Arthritis Pain and Discomfort with Massage Therapy

Woman getting massage therapy for arthritis pain

A long run on the beach, typing out a short story at one go, playing tag with your kids, or fetch with your dog, sticking to your exercise routine: these are the things that add color to life. An aching pain caused by arthritis in any of your joints can hold you back from enjoying these experiences to the fullest. Massage therapy is a popular therapeutic remedy used to heal arthritis pain arising out of different dysfunctions.

In most cases, arthritis pain is symptomatic of a medical concern and not a disease by itself. Reducing and relieving pain with massage therapy helps in treating the bigger issue and correcting physical dysfunctionalities earlier than later. This guide will help you understand exactly how massage therapy works and assist you in choosing the right type of massage that can alleviate discomfort arising out of arthritis pain.


What is massage therapy and how does it help with arthritis?

If you have already started to picture yourself lying comfortably on a bed with scented oils relaxing your sore muscles as a muscular guy pounds his fist against along your back, stop because there is more to it. Apart from relaxation, massage therapy involves the manipulation of muscles, skin and any other affected tissues. It is sometimes also accompanied by mechanical apparatus, used to relieve pain and stiffness, ease anxiety, improve motion in the joints and promote a more restful sleep.

Depending on the degree of pain and the cause for therapy, a massage therapy session could range from between thirty to ninety minutes.


How can massage relieve or reduce your arthritis pain?

When a person is suffering from Arthritis pain, massaging can help improve joint movement, relax tense muscles, and stimulate the flow of blood and nutrients to the skin and underlying tissues. Research has shown that massage therapy can lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of serotonin, which has a positive impact on one’s mood.  It further helps by breaking the cycle of pain and stress.

A 16-week clinical trial, conducted by the Yale Prevention Research Centre, showed that massage therapy improved flexibility, lessened pain and improved range of motion in the participants. It has also been clinically proven that massage therapy decreases the patient’s reliance on medications, thus also resulting in lesser healthcare costs.

What matters most is the level of pressure used during the massage. A study by the International Journal of Neuroscience revealed that stimulating pressure receptors or nerves under the skin that convey pain-reducing signals to the brain, with moderate pressure leads to reduced symptoms of arthritis.

While there are many types of massages that can help in relieving arthritis pain and discomfort, you can also look at a customized therapy plan uniquely tailored for your needs.


What are the different types of massages for arthritis?

With a regular massage, a person can easily slide into a state of deep sleep. In this state, pain-relieving chemicals are released, which leads to restoration and helps in reducing pain during the day. Listed below are a few massage options that could be used for different arthritis conditions.

  1. Ankylosing spondylitis

    It is a type of arthritis caused by the inflammation of the joints in the spine. Massage therapy, which focuses on blood circulation, using low to high-pressure strokes on the body is the most popular option to combat this. Another option you could explore is Shiatsu a Japanese massage technique that focuses on balancing the flow of qi by applying pressure on specific spots to relieve pain. Lymphatic drainage massage is a detox massage that uses light, patterned strokes to help excess lymphatic fluid to drain into the bloodstream and relieve pain. Petrissage is a massage technique where the therapist lifts your skin and kneads or rolls it to lengthen the tissues and connect your muscle.

  2. Rheumatoid arthritis

    It is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks your joint muscles leading to inflammation and pain. A combination of therapeutic massage and self-massage helps in reducing pain. Apart from a Therapeutic massage, therapists also recommend Myofascial release, which works on select areas of the body with pressure to break up tight connective tissue. Hot stone massage combines hands-on therapy for knotted muscles with the application of hot stones that can relax muscles and ease the pain. Deep-tissue massage uses intense pressure and tissue manipulation to address stiffness and soreness.

Acknowledging that there are more than 100 types of arthritis, different massages are applied to treat a different kind of arthritis. It sometimes also includes hot and cold therapy.

Apart from using massage as a standalone medicative prescription, it is at times recommended as a complementary therapy with either chiropractic, acupuncture or physiotherapy.

Don Valley offers access to the latest techniques and a focused team approach to your overall health care from a qualified, caring team. Our experienced professionals suggest and provide tailor-made wellness packages to suit every individual.