Massage and Arthritis
Arthritis is a common condition affecting all ages, even children, but it becomes more prevalent the older we get. According to the CDC, it affects almost half of those age 65 and older (www.cdc.gov/arthritis/). There are many types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. Chronic inflammation is a contributing factor in all of them. The most common type is osteoarthritis or good old wear and tear on the joints. This is the type most people think of when we say arthritis.
There is no cure for this group of conditions but the symptoms can be managed. Diet and exercise can be helpful as well as regular massage. Research has shown that massage therapy is helpful in reducing many of the symptoms of arthritis including pain and stiffness. In recent studies, conducted by Tiffany Field, PhD, and others, massage therapy has been shown to improve pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints, according to an article on the Arthritis Foundation’s website (www.arthritis.org).
Massage helps in a variety of ways. First off, massage has been shown to lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of serotonin, which leads to improved mood. Massage can also lower production of the neurotransmitter substance P, often linked to pain. Additionally, it reduces the body’s inflammation level by bringing circulation to the cells helping to remove byproducts of the inflammatory process. This extra circulation also increases the cellular oxygen supply as well as the supply of other vital nutrients needed for cellular health. Less inflammation means less stiffness, less redness, less swelling and best of all, less pain!
So while massage may not cure your arthritis it can definitely improve your quality of life by reducing pain and other symptoms. Remember, it’s always a good idea to get approval from your doctor before starting a massage regimen especially if you have severe osteoarthritis or damaged or eroded joints. And let your therapist know if you are experiencing a flare so he or she can exercise extra caution. Get the relief you deserve, book today!