Many people indulge in a massage as a relaxation therapy, but more and more studies are proving that massage can play a big role in helping to manage the symptoms of painful, inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. When conducted regularly, massage may even provide long-term pain relief in such conditions.
Massage works by using pressure to manipulate tissues, such as muscles, ligaments and tendons, in the body. A therapist uses their hands and fingers to achieve this, or specific massage aids.
Several studies in Manchester have repeatedly shown the positive effects that massage can have on arthritis sufferers. Over a period of time following massage treatment, patients reported less pain and stiffness in joints, improved joint function, reduced muscle tension, better grip and more fluid range of motion. Massage can help to improve circulation, which can have a positive effect on reducing swelling and inflammation in the body. Studies have even pointed out that the benefits from massage can be felt for six months or more.
There are various forms of arthritis, and different parts of the body can be affected, including the large joints of the knees, hips or shoulders, to the smaller joints in the fingers or toes. What research shows is that no matter what type of arthritis a person has, or the affected part of the body, massage can benefit in most cases. In order to achieve the optimum results from a massage session, different massage techniques may be better suited to different forms of arthritis. Popular techniques, such as Swedish massage, may be used for some of the most common forms of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing sondylitis. Moderate pressure therapies are believed to have the most effective results, as they can better manipulate the nerves under the skin that cause pain signals to the brain.
In many cases, massage sessions don’t need to last that long in order to benefit arthritis sufferers. Research has proven that just 15-minute daily sessions helped patients who suffered from arthritis of the hands and wrists.
It’s not just reduction of pain where massage can help those suffering from arthritis. Regular massage sessions can also reduce the level of stress hormones in the body, which can improve a person’s mood and feelings of anxiety or depression, which may be elevated in those suffering from painful conditions, like arthritis.
Other hormones associated with increased inflammatory response are also believed to be lowered, according to studies looking at the effects of massage on arthritis patients.
Improved sleep has also been reported as a benefit of massage, which may be useful to those who are affected by pain during the night. Over a period of time, massage can also boost immune function, which can enable the body to recover and heal following a flare up, and may reduce the severity of symptoms in the long term.
To get the best results from a massage, an arthritis patient should work with their doctor, and use the therapy in conjunction with any existing treatment.