Arthritis is a recurrent condition involved with joint inflammation, redness, swelling, burning feelings, sometimes itching, and trouble moving. Some people have flare ups when it rains, some do not. Massages might help reduce pain and inflammation increasing blood flow and will give you a soothing relaxed feeling all over when finished. The comfort you feel you want to last forever, and it might with continuing gentle massage therapy.
Benefits Using Message Therapy for Arthritis Pain
Many people will have health benefits with massage while others might not find relief. A lot of people think they are pampering themselves and being over indulgent going to a professional certified massage therapist. That is not true. Think of a massage as a supplemental medicine to use with the meds your rheumatologist or primary healthcare provider prescribes. Massage is healthy and therapeutic for millions of people today. Discuss with your doctor and massage therapist your goals and the medicines you take for arthritis.
A soothing and relaxing massage can be done at a salon spa or can be done at home by a trained person using your own massage table.
Arthritis brings with it stress and depression. It is a pain that is indescribable. If your pain is moderate, you can receive help from hand-held massagers, best neck and shoulder massagers, and foot massagers.
Massage at a spa or at home will reduce and calm sore muscles and painful joints for a restful night’s sleep. Be sure your mattress and pillows are in decent shape to align your spine and hold your body comfortably.
You can massage yourself with or without a massager item or your partner or friend can do it for you and then you reciprocate by massaging them.
Massage for Arthritis
Massage on a regular basis reduces pain, improves range of motion, stiffness, and hand gripping with better wide-ranging joint functions. Painful knees, fingers, hands, and wrist arthritis have been reduced by having a massage at least 4 times each week by a therapist or at home. You can learn to do this yourself at home giving yourself a mild pressure massage for increasing the strength of your grip to reduce pain and feelings of anxiety or depression. Massage therapists use pressure points to relieve arthritis pain.
The amount of pressure you use is important to stimulate the receptors, the nerves under the skin that communicate with the brain that produces serotonin and dopamine, the body’s natural pain killers. The other two feel-good chemicals are oxytocin and endorphin. A light touch to your skin will not get the pressure points involved for chemical activity in the brain. A moderate pressure must be used. Massage is also related to anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Chronic arthritis in the back can be helped with vibrating neck and full back massage seat cushions in conjunction with a hands-on massage.
How Massage Works
The stress hormone cortisol is lowered with massage increasing the creation of serotonin that improves mood. Serotonin is made from tryptophan in such foods as turkey, nuts, seeds, soy, tofu, chicken, fish, oats, beans, lentils, eggs, and more, and is in the gastrointestinal tract, blood platelets, and nervous system. It acts as a neurotransmitter and vasoconstrictor to stimulate smooth muscles and regulate the natural body cycle activities. Sleep and mood is improved and anxiety goes down with massage. With a better night’s sleep, arthritis pain may be reduced.
Types of Arthritis Massage
Be sure to check with your doctor because some procedures and methods might involve tissue and joints that are too sensitive for robust massaging. If your joints are damaged from ankylosing spondylitis or rheumatoid arthritis it is imperative you discuss this with your massage therapist. She or he will know of the contraindications and whether to use scented oils or lotions. Rheumatoid arthritis in upper limbs receives help from moderate pressure massage therapy.
Be mindful and be cautious using massage when you have:
- Inflammation flare, skin rash, or fever
- Worn down arthritis joints
- Acute brittle bones/osteoporosis
- Varicose veins
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
If the massage hurts, don’t do it. You don’t want to feel worse; you want the stiffness and pain from arthritis to feel better.
Types of Arthritis
- Osteoarthritis (OA)—Is the most familiar form of arthritis. Over time the cartilage between the bones wear down from constant use or injuries. Cartilage is a hard tissue covering ends of bones so the bones easily slide over. Sometimes you will hear clicking sounds from cartilage wearing away. Bone-to-bone pain is excruciating with any type arthritis. As the cartilage wears away more pain ensues. Poor posture and being overweight can cause arthritis. Being obese puts more weight on the bones and tissues surrounding them such as cartilage.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)—is an autoimmune condition of the musculoskeletal affecting bones, joints, and even organs. The body attacks the joint lining (synovial) tissue. The joints become inflamed and enlarge even bulging at the skin. In time this can destroy bones and cartilage in the joints. With RA, you will feel tired because the pain drains you of energy. Sometimes you can have lumps on other areas of your body like the hands and elbows feeling like pressure from the outside. It is usually found in both hands and feet.
- Gout—usually affects the big toe of the foot and is another form of arthritis. The condition is a metabolic disease where waste products known as uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints causing swelling and extreme pain. It is an inherited condition.
Ankylosing Spondylitis Massage
This arthritic condition can vary between tenderness, aching, and agony to welcomed relief. It affects the ribs and spine. This ailment is indeed arthritis caused by inflammation in the spine’s joints. It is a chronic condition that can fuse the joints together. Continue your doctor’s treatment and have a gentle kneading massage to relax the sore muscles because of stiffness. Massage therapy can relieve pain by reducing the release of inflammatory chemicals in your body. You will be relaxed and soothed with a great massage.
Swedish massage is the most common and well liked for Ankylosing Spondylitis and all arthritic pain. With the long strokes, circular motions, and kneading, this type massage will loosen and relax tight muscles. Light to deeper pressure is used and that depends on what you like and tell your massage therapist. This pressure improves blood flow in the muscle fibers.
Shiatsu massage involves certain spots to relieve pain somewhere else in your body. Your limbs can be stretched lightly. In ancient Chinese, this is the life force known as Qi. Qigong is the vital energy in all life. The gentle movement of a massage therapist’s hands puts more oxygen demands to regulate the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in your body. When you breathe slowly blood vessels are dilated to relieve the heart from working so hard. Muscles contract and the lymph system is improved when you deep breathe. The lungs are known as the heart of the lymph system. This is vital to your body’s immune function. Shiatsu also aids in removing toxic chemicals from metabolized foods from cells. You want your body to be in the restorative parasympathetic state with immediate calming and not focus on the overactive sympathetic method of functioning. Not only will massage help, but so will meditation and exercise. Tui na or tuina massage is also used. You can read more about it here.
Lymphatic massage is a detox massage to drain lymph gland fluid into the blood stream. It is done with light strokes to remove excess inflammatory fluids that occur in people with arthritis.
Self-massage is easy to do to lessen pain and give you more flexibility.
- You can do it with or without oils or lotions, but oil will make the movements flow more smoothly and unrefined coconut oil is a good oil to use for gliding and sliding strokes.
- Heat applied before your self-massage might help muscles relax.
- Long brisk stroking helps warm up your muscles then use smaller targeted strokes for certain painful areas.
- Hold the pressure points rubbing back and forth at these areas and deeper strokes for the length of the muscle.
- Do not rub so hard you cause yourself pain.
- Bedtime massage will help you sleep better.
- Self-massage will help you in between your massage therapy sessions.
Watch a self-massage video for arthritis of the hands and feet done by a certified massage therapist here.
Foods to Avoid for Arthritis Joint Pain
Arthritis means painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. Your doctor will give you medications to reduce the pain. There is no specific diet for arthritis; however, there are foods that can cause inflammation.
- Fried and processed foods—fried meat, fish, poultry, and frozen dinners.
- Eat more vegetables and fruit.
- Reduce AGE (Advanced Glycation End Product)—a toxin that occurs from high heat such as grilled, fried, or pasteurized foods. AGEs will damage proteins in your body using cytokines that send inflammation messages that can cause arthritis.
- Sugar and carbs increase AGEs causing inflammation from soda, candy, cakes, white bread, and more processed foods.
- Dairy such as milk, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese contribute to irritated joint pain. Avoid animal fats and try a vegan diet with no animal products. Eat more veggies, beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu, and nut butters to reduce arthritic pain.
- Oils such as Crisco, butter, and trans fats.
- Polyunsaturated oils have omega 3 and omega 6. Corn, sunflower, soy, safflower, and vegetable oils are omega 6 and cause inflammation. Omega 3s are in flaxseeds, walnuts, and oily fish and are anti-inflammatory and good for you.
Watch this short video to see more about foods to avoid here.