Massage is one of the most popular healing practices and has proven beneficial for many people with arthritis. Dozens of massage techniques exist, ranging from gentle to intense, but almost all aim to ease stress and sore muscles. For some, it’s also a way to connect and communicate with another human being and feel safe and comforted.
Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, has conducted many studies on the benefits of massage for adults and children with arthritis. Her research has repeatedly shown that moderate-pressure massage can lead to improved pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function in people with OA, RA and fibromyalgia.
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Neck pain is one of the most frequent pain conditions, second only to back pain – with a reported 30-50% of adults experiencing it. And those living with arthritis know all too well the discomfort that can come from simply shaking their head Yes or No.
However, according to research done at the University of Miami School of Medicine, daily self-massage, coupled with regular massages from a therapist, can reduce neck pain caused by arthritis.
Participants in the study, who were already diagnosed with neck pain due to arthritis, received weekly moderate pressure massages, along with directions on how to complete those same massages on themselves daily.
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Diagnosed with fibromyalgia in her 30s and then osteoarthritis (OA) in her 50s, pain has been a pretty consistent factor in Laurie Steiner’s adult life. But, as an active grandmother and frequent caretaker of seven grandchildren, Laurie doesn’t have the time to let the pain keep her down.
“I have a busy life, like most women,” says Laurie. “I watch several of my grandkids, which involves a lot of lifting, as well as getting down and dirty with them when we play together. I may have fibromyalgia and arthritis, but I can’t let it keep me from the things I love.”
In treating her pain, Laurie has been diligent in avoiding certain pain medications in fear that they will make her too tired to make it through the day.
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When Kathleen Stoddart was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) two years ago, she knew there would be some things she couldn’t control. But, when she realized some things were within her control, she immediately got to work.
“When I was diagnosed with RA, one thing the doctor mentioned was smoking,” recalls Kathleen. “I had been a smoker for a long time. “I kept thinking that if there was any behavior I had that contributed to making my RA worse, I would do anything to change it. Within a month of my diagnosis, I quit smoking completely.”
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There are many ways to manage arthritis pain and get pain relief. No single treatment is guaranteed to produce complete and consistent relief from pain. Often, you need a combination of methods. And you may need to add or stop a treatment over time as your condition changes.
You may get pain relief from nonprescription medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Or your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication if those don’t work. But you may have side effects or the medications might not provide complete relief for you. Here are other proven methods you can try to soothe arthritis pain in addition to pills and medical treatments.
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Diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) when she was just eight years old, Camille has her treatment regimen down pat — medicine, movement and massage.
“My rheumatologist recommended that I try getting a massage to deal with some of the more stubborn knots I have in my joints,” says Camille, who is now 24. “I have always loved getting massages, and they have helped my arthritis in ways I would have never guessed.”
Continue reading A Healing Touch: The Benefits of Massage for Arthritis
For many of us, getting a massage can seem like a luxury reserved for special occasions.
However, for those with hand pain (including pain associated with arthritis), regular hand massage has been proven to decrease anxiety, improve strength and reduce pain.
Research conducted at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that a combination of hand massage from a therapist and self–hand massage is likely to be effective in the easing of hand pain caused by arthritis and other conditions. The study analyzed adults who received a massage on their affected hand(s) by a therapist once a week and also performed self- hand massage daily. Results showed that the combination of massages could possibly reduce hand pain up to 57 percent.
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