Balance Blog

Jun 12th

Swedish Massage and Arthritis

Posted by with 2 Comments

June is National Arthritis Month.  For the many people who suffer from this painful disease, this month is a way to raise awareness, be in community with other arthritis sufferers, and to learn about new methods for dealing with the pain of arthritis, such as medications, herbal remedies, yoga and massage therapy.

Swedish massage can be a powerful addition to an arthritis sufferer’s treatment plan.  According to researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center, massage therapy is a safe and effective way to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee.    Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that affects 21 million Americans and causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Massage is free of any known side effects and according to our results, clearly shows therapeutic promise,” said senior investigator of the study David L. Katz, M.D., associate adjunct professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health at Yale School of Medicine and director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center. “So-called ‘alternative’ treatments like massage are most important when conventional treatments are far from ideal. Currently available non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often not well-tolerated by older adults with osteoarthritis. Cox-II inhibitors like Vioxx were developed as substitutes for traditional anti-inflammatory drugs, but pose highly-publicized toxicity problems of their own.”

“Our results suggest that massage therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for osteoarthritis,” said Perlman. “Ultimately, massage may be shown to lessen a patient’s reliance on medications and decrease health care costs.”

Since deep tissue massage is contraindicated for certain types of arthritis during flare ups, Swedish massage is the modality most often used to help ease arthritis pain. Swedish massage utilizes five basic strokes: long, slow strokes (effleurage), kneading (petrissage), a tapping stroke called tapotement, friction, and vibration or rocking.  Swedish massage can be done with a variety of pressures, but generally addresses the joints and surface layers of muscles, as opposed to deep tissue massage, which reaches the deeper tissues.  For arthritis sufferers, Swedish massage is beneficial not only for pain, but also for the anxiety and depression that can result from living with chronic pain.

During this National Arthritis Month, treat yourself or someone you know who lives with arthritis to something healthy and rewarding: a yoga class, a gentle walk, or a relaxing, pain-reducing massage.  When we treat our bodies lovingly, like a friend, chronic pain can become easier to live with.

  1. Brian
    June 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information. One of my closest friends suffers from RA, and it is absolutely heartbreaking to see. Especially at such a young age! It is an absolute shame. I also work with senior citizens every day, helping them cover the out of pocket gaps brought on by government medicare. Many of my clients suffer from different types of arthritis, and I agree with you that raising awareness is a fantastic idea!

    We could all use a little more education when it comes to arthritis. How we can prevent it, and how we can make it hurt less once we have it. There should be research going on right this second.

    Thanks again for sharing this information with all of us, I appreciate your hard work. You have an excellent blog. I will definitely pass this information along.

    • Balanced Blogger
      October 11, 2012 at 2:55 am

      Brian, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s such a painful thing to live with. There is some research being done currently about the effects of massage on RA; I’ll try to keep up to date on it, and blog about it when the findings are out. You have to be very careful with RA and massage, but there are ways to work with it, and I’ve heard from sufferers that massage has helped them, in conjunction with conventional treatments.

      Thank YOU, for the work you do with our elders.


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