Massage Therapies for Arthritis

Massage has long been a recommended arthritis pain relief treatment by doctors for those suffering from joint pain. Massage therapies for arthritis include Swedish, deep-tissue, myofascial, trigger-point, acupressure, and reflexology.

Swedish massage as an arthritis treatment consists of rhythmic stroking, rubbing, and kneading of the topmost muscle layers while gently moving joints. This type of massage therapy involves the entire body and is what most of us consider when thinking of “massage.”

Slow, strong strokes by the therapist characterize Deep-Tissue Massage. Because this type of arthritis relief targets muscles that lie deeper in the body and can cause soreness, it may not be for everyone suffering from arthritis joint pain. Deep-tissue massage therapy does relieve tension, however, which can create an overall sense of relaxation and help with arthritis pain relief.

Myofascial massage
releases tension in the fascia the connective tissue surrounding muscles. Long strokes applied in a way as to stretch the fascia provide relief from pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis as well as other forms of the disease.

Trigger-point massage concentrates on applying pressure of the fingers to work out knots of tension in the body. This type of massage works on the theory that pain in one area of the body can also cause pain in another part and that alleviating tension from one area relieves it from a corresponding region.

Acupressure utilizes the idea of unblocking the Asian concept of “qi” (pronounced “chee”) known in Eastern countries as life-giving energy. By stimulating specific points on the body, this therapy mimics acupuncture, but uses finger pressure instead of needles. This energy reportedly relieves the symptoms of many types of ailments including joint pain.

Reflexology, similar to trigger-point therapy, works by the therapist rubbing specific points on the feet, hands, and other parts of the body. The nerves in these body parts are thought to correspond with those in other portions of the body and massaging them will lessen pain and provide arthritis relief in their “matching” areas.

These massage therapies work for some people, but not all. When considering this type of arthritis treatment, make sure the therapist you have in mind specializes in, or at least has knowledge of, treating people suffering from arthritis. With this in mind, plus clearance from your doctor, massage therapy may mean the difference between pain and a more comfortable, healthier life.