By: Logan Klahn LMT, BCTMB
Arthritis is a universal human condition, as we age our joints naturally wear. The amount of wear in a joint is thought to be related to how an individual uses the joint. For example, regularly using improper biomechanics to perform tasks will wear down a joint faster. Many times these tasks are unavoidable because they are directly related to the work we do. The best way to avoid a painful arthritis condition is to distribute an even wear pattern around the whole joint. This is accomplished by making sure the joint moves through its natural range of motion regularly. If we continuously move in a single direction then the wear pattern forms in a single direction. Therefore it’s important to the longevity of the joint to move regularly and in all directions. This can be easily accomplished through a regular exercise program. Even with a painful condition like rheumatoid arthritis, exercise has been shown to significantly decrease pain and fatigue.
It would be great if we could go back in time and avoid all those improper movements and injuries, but since that’s not possible let’s talk about natural ways to improve the stiffness and pain that is often associated with arthritis. Over the last 20 years, there have been several studies showing that massage therapy can be an effective form of pain relief for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For example, when dealing with osteoarthritis of the knee, massage therapy was shown to significantly decrease pain and improve function of the knee over an 8 week treatment period. Individuals in the study also had improvements in strength and range of motion. These are rather significant findings considering that other treatments for OA include pain medication, corticosteroid injections, and surgery to repair the joint. Another study found that by adding a topical analgesic after massage treatment enhanced the effectiveness of massage therapy. Subjects received massage therapy once a week for 4 weeks and were taught self-care massage for the hands to perform daily. At the end of the 4 week study, participants had improvements in grip strength, hand function, and a decrease in pain.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, consider utilizing massage therapy as a treatment option. At East Wind we have qualified and licensed massage therapists, self-care tools, and topical analgesics to provide the most effective treatments possible. We also offer massage packages to reduce the cost of treatments for continued care.