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Massage and Arthritis

If you live with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you know what a challenge it can be to find relief from joint pain and other symptoms. But there are many things you can do to manage and control your arthritis and live a healthy, active life.

According to Western Medicine, Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 21 million Americans and many more worldwide. It occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down, usually affecting the hips, hands, knees, low back, or neck.

Some factors that can increase your risk include: a joint injury, being overweight, aging, repetitive motion and genetics.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another type of arthritis, affecting 2.1 million people in the United States. This chronic condition occurs when the lining of the joints becomes inflamed, and can lead to long-term joint damage and even loss of movement. Women are two to three times more likely to get RA. 
RA often starts in the hands or feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body.

Symptoms of RA include:

  • Warm, swollen or tender joints
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever
  • Muscle pain and weakness

Treatment options

Western treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage. Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, as well as self-care recommendations and physical therapy sessions. In some cases, surgery may even be needed.

Did you know massage can help?

Massage has a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system and could be used as a natural method for reducing stress and promoting health.

Here are some massage approaches that may help individuals who suffer from RA or osteoarthritis:

  • Deep tissue massage to help release fascial adhesions
  • Gentle stretching and moving the body through normal ranges of motion to release tension in the muscles.
  • Work surrounding areas to decompress the joints
  • Focused work on painful muscles that cross over the affected joints

Note: It is important to communicate with the client to ensure they can tolerate the level of movement or pressure being applied.

What you can do?

There is no “quick fix” for arthritis and it may take time to achieve results. However, there are style changes you can make that may help you find relief faster:

  • Exercise can help increase your flexibility, strengthen muscles and bones, and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stick to a healthy diet made up of a variety of unprocessed, organic foods.
  • De-stress. By learning to identify your stressors and lowering your stress through techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Tai Chi or 
Qi Gong, you can improve your state of mind and reduce overall stress.
  • Try alternating heat and cold for pain relief. Heat treatments, such as warm baths or heat pads, soothe stiff joints and tired muscles. Cold treatments, such as ice packs, are best for acute pain as the numb painful areas and decrease inflammation.
  • Maintain balance in your life. Alternating periods of rest and relaxation with periods of activity and exercise will keep you feeling your best.
  • Schedule a regular massage to keep stress levels low and maintain healthy muscle tone around the joints and throughout the entire body.


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