Millions of individuals in the U.S. suffer from the effects of osteoarthritis. Experts are finding that massage therapy may be a significant help in managing pain and stiffness as well as increasing joint mobility. The benefits begin to be observed after several weeks of therapy.
There are many types of arthritis but osteoarthritis is the most commonly observed. It is a debilitating disease that affects the integrity of the joints. The condition involves a wearing down of the cartilage between bones. This leads to swelling, pain, stiffness, and a decrease in joint mobility over time. The disease can become severe, and complete loss of joint mobility can occur. Usually, this condition affects joints of the hands or joints that provide support for the body such as the knees. There are several different factors that can increase the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis such as age, weight, genetics, and joint overuse. Women are also more likely to develop osteoarthritis, however, the reasons are unknown.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Treatment is necessary to slow down the progression of the disease and lessen pain and loss of mobility. Pharmaceutical treatment can come with many undesired side effects and has led to more people searching for alternatives to help control their symptoms. Experts have been considering massage as a viable therapy for osteoarthritis symptom management and a more recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine provides evidence to support this. The study involved tracking participants with osteoarthritis of the knee. After eight weeks of consistent massage, participants reported notable improvements in their symptoms and overall joint function. Massage therapy faired considerably better over the control groups going about their regular routines or experiencing light touch. The takeaway seems to be that massage therapy may be worth adding in addition to traditional treatments.
During the study, participants received a weekly 1-hour Swedish massage for a duration of eight weeks. This was followed by a 1-hour Swedish massage every two weeks for maintenance. The most benefit was observed after eight weeks of consistent therapy. Following the eight-week mark, benefits plateaued but the bi-weekly massage sessions maintained the initial progress observed. Inflammation, pain, and joint mobility were all improved by massage therapy. Individuals considering adding massage therapy to their treatment regimen should consult with their doctor first. Depending on the situation, massage therapy may not be a safe alternative for some individuals.
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