Massage for arthritis
Are you suffering from arthritis? Are you aware that massage can help to significantly reduce pain and discomfort? Read on to find out more about arthritis and how massage plays a role in arthritis treatment.
You will develop arthritis at some point in your lifetime. It can be very mild, causing a little stiffness as you age, or it can be extremely painful and debilitating. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent and manage this condition.
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis is not actually a disease. Arthritis is a term used to describe joint inflammation (“arthro” = joint; “itis” = inflammation). When inflammation is present, the joint is usually painful. However, not all joint pain is arthritis. Problems like trigger points, sprains, or tendinitis can cause pain, but the joint itself remains healthy.
To help you understand arthritis, it’s useful to know a little bit about joints. Joints are like hinges between bones. The surfaces where bones connect are covered with cartilage; you would recognise this as gristle on a chicken leg.
Cartilage is a smooth material that acts as a shock absorber and allows the bones to glide smoothly over one another. Ligaments (fibrous structures that attach one bone to another bone) surround the joint to form a sleeve that encapsulates the joint.
Inside that sleeve is a slippery fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates the cartilage much like oil lubricates the part of an engine.
There are virtually dozens of problems or pathologies that are considered Arthritis. Two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other types of arthritis like lupis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and Reiter’s syndrome are less common, theSe are all systemic conditions. What differentiates each of these is the specific joints that become affected, the problems that occur in other body systems, and the severity of the symptoms.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other types of systemic arthritis most often involves the use of medications in conjunction with Remedial massage, joint mobilisation and exercise.
By following this type of regimen, a person can usually minimise their pain and discomfort significantly.
You will eventually develop osteoarthritis at some point. If it starts to give you problems, it can usually be managed very well without medication. It is vitally important, however, that you take proactive measures to prevent wear and tear on your joints.
You must manage your tension and maintain good posture to prevent excessive or uneven pressure on your joints. You can do this by practicing relaxation exercises, stretching and by having regular Remedial Massage. Our article on the importance of self care may be helpful here too.
If you want to learn how to improve your posture ask your Therapist to do a postural assessment and to suggest some simple exercises to help imbalances. Many Therapists are also trained in fascial or deep tissue techniques that will allow them to manually stretch out shortened muscles that are pulling your body out of alignment.
Do you have to stop exercising because cartilage is wearing thin? Far from it. You need to move your joints in to nutrients to your cartilage so it can heal. Inactivity can actually cause your cartilage to deteriorate faster.
If you have a sedentary job, make sure that you take frequent breaks. As well, engage in some low impact activities like walking, swimming, biking or any activity that you enjoy doing on a regular basis. If you need help starting a program ask your Therapist for assistance.
In the case of osteoarthritis, you should consider surgery only after conservative treatment has failed and pain and limitation in movement interferes with your day-to-day activities in a significant way.
With arthritic conditions, some joints will lose their mobility, while others will tend to become hypermobile. Your muscles have to work harder to both compensate for lost movement and to stabilise loose joints. Remember that cartilage doesn’t feel pain.
The pain associated with arthritis usually comes from overworked muscles or sometimes from the capsule that surrounds the joint.
For this reason, Massage Therapy can be invaluable in managing your arthritis symptoms: general Massage to reduce muscles spasm, trigger point therapy to reduce referred pain, and when necessary, joint mobilisation to stretch tightened joints and restore your mobility.
To get relief from arthritic pain, you can make a booking with one of our trained therapists. We look forward to welcoming you.