You will encounter many different forms of massage depending where around the world you travel. However in this modern age, you can probably find all significant forms of massage within a close proximity.
Can The Pain Of Arthritis Be Healed By Massage Therapy?
Millions of people suffer from arthritis and all have varying degrees of pain. Some are more manageable than others while others have such bad days that the pain is practically impossible to manage at all. However, most agree that a soothing massage can certainly help alleviate some of the pain if but for a short time. Sore muscles are often soothed while the massage in itself creates a calming effect with major relief from the stress and tension created by the constant pain of arthritis.
Regardless of the setting in which your massage therapists sets you up in, a good session will aid in soothing your sore joints and muscles. Whether you find yourself in the tranquility of a spa near you or in a brightly lit clinic in a treatment center, your anxiety is sure to lessen and you can be sure that you’ll achieve better sleep after a great massage.
Massage therapy has also proven to affect the production of hormones in your body that have direct links to blood pressure, anxiety, heart rate and vital signs. With all these scientific proof of the benefits of massage therapy, the only question that remains is, is it safe and effective for people who suffer from arthritis?
The Connection of Massage Therapy and Arthritis
Patients who suffer from arthritis who receive regular massages are due to reduce the amount of pain that they go through on a daily basis. Regardless of whether you are being massaged by a licensed therapist of whether you are massaging yourself at home, so long as your muscles and joints are going through the process of being massaged, you are sure to feel better than a patient who is not receiving any type of massage therapy.
Research has proven that regular massages have led to improvements in stiffness, flexibility, strength of your hands grip, as well as general functions of the joints around massaged areas of the body. In 2006, a study was done wherein 68 adult patients who suffered from knee osteoarthritis received two massages per week (Swedish) over a two month period and their results were compared to a group of people that did not receive massage therapy. Needless to say, the group that received the therapy claimed significant improvements in the pain in their knees, the stiffness in their joints, and the motion of their walks.
It is studies like these that have eliminated the question of whether massage therapy does patients with arthritis any good or not. As for those that question the validity of these studies or the truthfulness of these positive claims, all would agree that at the bare minimum, massage therapy is not harmful and will not make a patients arthritis any worse.
Massage Therapy For Patients With Wrist Arthritis
In another study also conducted in 2006, twenty two adults that were previously diagnosed with hand and/or wrist arthritis were observed after having received four massages over a four week period. The massages were done by licensed therapists while the patients were also taught how to massage their own joints in the comforts of their own homes. Fifteen minutes of moderate pressure was all it took in order to achieve reduced pain while heightening the strength of their grip.
Further research also led to the conclusion that the benefits of massages, whether conducted by a licensed therapist or done onto one self, would last for up to six months long. It was further concluded that the style in which the massage was conducted had little to no importance, what mattered was that a massage was given or conducted, making massages in general truly helpful regardless of its style.
In the end, pressure being applied to the painful areas of your wrist is what mattered the most. It was all about the level of the pressure, however, moderate to light seemed to be the pressure of choice by the majority. Because the nerves beneath the skin talk to the brain and give it signals that there is pain, that we need to stimulate pressure receptors. With even light to moderate pressure, we will find reduction in the symptoms of pain and discomfort.
However what remains critical when treating a patient with arthritis with massage therapy is that moderate pressure must be applied. Light pressure or just stroking the skin with your fingertips does not get far in deep enough in order to massage the pressure receptors. It may be stimulating but it certainly is not relaxing.
What Exactly Does Massage Therapy Do?
We already know that massage therapy is capable of eliminating a person’s stress, anxiety, and even physical pain. But what exactly transpired inside the body that makes this so? Science tells us that receiving a massage actually lowers cortisol, which is a hormone that the body produces by itself and is linked in with stress. Getting a massage also increases our serotonin which basically makes us feel good and puts us in a good mood. There is also a neurotransmitter substance P that is lowered during a massage which helps us sleep better while minimizing any pain we may have.
The mechanism for reducing stress during a massage remains vague but it is known that massages play a vital role in the reduction of anxiety and in a variety of painful conditions too. Another study revealed that massages must be working in other mysterious ways considering the fact that though we may measure a person’s cortisol lever, it does not equal knowing the amount of stress that a person is experiencing.
There are a ton of factors involved in determining how massage therapy offers relief to pain, anxiety, and stiffness, but the actual mechanism has yet to be absolutely determined.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Massage To Ease Your Arthritic Pain
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to be knowledgeable of your condition and to be able to make a wise assessment before delving into something that may be new to you. In this case, if you have a major arthritic condition and it is more delicate than that of others who suffer the same discomfort, it may be best to speak to your rheumatologist or physician to ensure that a massage will be safe for you. Because some massages involve deep tissue rubbing and apply a great amount of pressure, these practices or styles may not be good for sensitive joints. Other cases may be wherein your arthritis is too delicate that it would not be wise to move your limbs into certain or specific positions, this would be important to know before walking into a spa and requesting a Thai massage where the whole massage consists of stretching your body all over the place.
To play it safe, it would be wise to be knowledgeable of your arthritis through and through if you have damaged joints since they may be tender and would require special treatment. Skin rashes, fevers, and inflammations are also cause for concern. Brittle bones or severe osteoporosis would definitely be up there in terms of needing special care for your condition. High blood pressure in itself can be quite dangerous and therefore should be treated with care since it is unknown what a massage could do to you and your high blood pressure. And finally, having varicose veins should also tell you to be cautious about getting a massage. Rubbing them may cause more trouble for you later on that you’d expect and so to play it safe, it would simply be better to just exercise caution and speak to a professional before massaging deep into those veins.
Reap The Benefits Of Proper Massage Therapy
With all this knowledge in you now, there should be no reason to shun a good massage, especially if you know that there are no special cases that you need to be wary about. Therapists in turn should be careful as well and should use their experience and education to make wise decisions for the therapy that they apply.
Remember that a massage therapist and a patient need to have a strong line of open communication in order to establish what is desired or needed out of the treatment. You must both be able to speak comfortably with each other in order to say what you like and what you don’t like or if the massage being given is perfect. This positive reinforcement will work wonders for you and will strengthen confidence and comfort.
The most important thing is that the massage should ease the arthritic pain and the stiffness should find some relief. If it is only going to get worse after the massage therapy session, then this is definitely not working out for you and you need to see another therapist or stop your massage treatment entirely.