Massage, whether conducted in a day spa or a treatment room at a physical therapy clinic, is something many people use to soothe sore joints and muscles, to ease anxiety or to help them sleep better.
In fact, massage is one of the most popular complementary therapies used in the United States. Research suggests that massage can affect the body’s production of certain hormones linked to blood pressure, anxiety, heart rate and other key vital signs.
Regular massage of muscles and joints, whether by a licensed therapist at a spa or by self-massage at home, can lead to a significant reduction in pain for people with arthritis. Massage therapy can lead to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints for people suffering from the symptoms of arthritis.
Studies show that massage can reduce pain and anxiety for people with arthritis. How does massage make these results happen? Massage can lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of serotonin, which, in turn, can improve mood. Additionally, massage can lower production of neurotransmitters linked to pain, and improve sleep as a result.
Massage is intended to complement a client’s doctor-prescribed arthritis treatment. Communication between the client’s doctor and massage therapist can ensure that massage is indicated and can help the client to find relief from the pain and discomfort caused by arthritis.
Goals for massage can vary from one arthritis client to the next. Some clients may be interested in relieving anxiety and stress caused by dealing with arthritis. Other clients may be seeking relief for pain and stiffness in a specific area of the body. Communicating with clients about their goals for each session can help the therapist to adjust the techniques used to help the client find maximum benefit from the massage session.
Massage therapy has been found to help clients who suffer from arthritis in the back, neck and shoulders, as well as in the knees, wrists and hands. Massage helps to improve range of motion and reduce stiffness in joints.
Massage should make arthritis pain and stiffness feel better, not worse. Asking a doctor for a referral to a massage therapist can help the client to possibly qualify for reimbursement if his or her insurance policy covers massage treatments.