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Recent findings show definite improvement in those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis after receiving massage therapy. Clients with arthritis had less pain, greater grip strength and improved range of motion in their upper limbs after message sessions.

Research by the Arthritis Foundation has shown that massage can lower the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol, boost production of serotonin, and, in turn, improve mood.

Massage often is used to relieve common symptoms of many types of arthritis: reducing pain and stiffness, easing anxiety, improving range of motion in joints, and promoting more restful sleep.

Massage therapists in a clinical environment may find more clients seeking massage for medical conditions like arthritis. Courses are available that are not only geared toward relaxation and wellness, but also focus on a variety of medical conditions. When treating a client with arthritis, massage should be integrated into the client’s overall medical treatment plan. A few pointers when working with clients suffering from arthritis:

Get to know them: Allow the client plenty of time to tell you the history of their disease as well as previous treatments they may have tried, and the results of those treatments. Also make sure to ask what medications the client is taking as well as any side effects.

Lighter touch: Some arthritis sufferers may need to be massaged with a lighter touch initially due to the level of pain they are experiencing. Light to moderate massage is able to improve circulation which can help alleviate pain symptoms.

Make adjustments: As you work with a client, be aware of areas of their body where the pain may be intense, and make adjustments to work around those areas as needed.

Regular appointments: Regular massage therapy sessions are beneficial to clients with arthritis because it will help to continually decrease their pain and increase their activity level over time.

Self-massage techniques: For arthritis clients, helping them find relief between massage sessions is beneficial. Any self-massage techniques you can share with your clients dealing with pain will be helpful.  

Sleep: Pain can be a significant factor in sleep disturbance, so be aware of this problem when working with clients who have arthritis.

Referrals: Be aware of when it’s time to refer to a specialist. Knowing when to involve other health care providers is crucial.

Regular massage therapy can help arthritis suffers manage their pain and stiffness, promote better sleep and relieve pain in muscles and joints.

©The Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks
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