Arthritis and Massage Therapy
Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects a joint, allowing it to move smoothly. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, such as when you walk. Without the normal amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. A joint is the area where two bones meet. Arthritis can affect people differently. It's common in adults 65 and older, but it can affect people of all ages, races, and ethnic groups. In fact, 1 out of every 5 adults in the United States, over 46 million people have reported being diagnosed by their doctor with some form of arthritis.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
Joint inflammation may result from an autoimmune disease (the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, broken bones, general "wear and tear" on joints, and Infection, usually by bacteria or virus. Usually the joint inflammation goes away after the cause goes away or is treated. Sometimes it does not. When this happens, you have chronic arthritis.
Arthritis may occur in men or women. Osteoarthritis is the most common type.
Arthritis causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. Symptoms can include:
Reduced ability to move the joint
Redness of the skin around a joint
Stiffness, especially in the morning
Warmth around a joint
Two of the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have different causes, risk factors, and effects on the body:
Osteoarthritis pain, stiffness, or inflammation most frequently appears in the hips, knees, and hands.
Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the hands and wrists but can also affect areas of the body other than the joints.
MASSAGE THERAPY AND ARTHRITIS
Massage therapy is so beneficial to people who suffer from arthritis. Massage is one of the best ways to help ease the pain. Several things happen during massage that provide particular benefit to arthritis pain sufferers:
• Joints are loosened when adhesions in muscles or ligaments are broken up
• The production of synovial fluid is stimulated, thus providing additional cushioning
• Production of natural pain-killing endorphins increases
• Spasms which cause muscle pain are reduced
Also Massage has overall positive effects on the body:
• Stress hormone production decreases
• Immune function is improved
• Sleep is more continuous
• Blood pressure decreases
Techniques of massage therapy for arthritis pain
Massage can play a big role in alleviating the symptoms of both stress and arthritis. Kneading, rubbing and stroking the muscles, ligaments and tendons create relaxation that restores balance to the delicate body. The benefits of massage include:
Increased flexibility and mobility
Decreased pain and inflammation
Relief of muscle aches and stiffness
An overall sense of relaxation and wellness
A variety of massage styles can help decrease arthritis pain. Swedish massage therapy is the most relaxing and is used to stimulate blood flow to the skin and relax the muscles. Deep-tissue massage therapy can decrease pain and improve movement in specific muscles and joints. Reflexology involves applying deep pressure to points on the feet that correspond to specific areas of the body. During an acute flare-up of arthritis, reflexology is often recommended because painful joints are not touched directly, and pain and symptoms can be relieved from this distal treatment.
Deep Tissue- A deeper working of the muscles as the name implies, this technique uses slow, deep movements to remove tension in muscles.
Acupressure or Shiatsu- Similar in theory to acupuncture, these Asian techniques use concentrated finger pressure on specific body points to release the flow of energy, or qi.
Trigger Point- Focused finger pressure is used to relax knots of tension that can inject pain in other parts of the body.
Reflexology- Distinct areas on the palms, soles of the feet and/or ears are rubbed to relieve tension in other parts of the body to which they are supposed to be linked.