Arthritis & Massage

The term “arthritis” describes a group of disorders that affect the tissues and cartilage in a person’s joints causing chronic inflammation and often debilitating pain. Arthritis afflicts more than six million Canadians, and is the leading cause of long-term disability in the country today.

There are several types of arthritis, with the three main types being osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Here are the differences between the three:

  • This is the most common form of arthritis, is the wearing down of the cartilage over time due to constant use or injury. Cartilage provides cushioning between your bones, allowing you to grip, flex, walk, or make any movements easily. When this cushioning thins out and your bones have difficulty sliding over one another, it can be painful to do even normal, seemingly easy activities.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). While osteoarthritis is the thinning of the cartilage in the joints, in rheumatoid arthritis (or RA), the membrane surrounding them can become inflamed. RA is an autoimmune disease that causes the thickening of the lining, called the synovial membrane. The inflammation usually starts in the joints in the hands and feet, but it can affect any part of the body, including the skin, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
  • This is a relatively milder form of arthritis usually experienced in the big toe, but it can affect other joints as well. Gout is the accumulation of crystallized uric acid in the joints’ blood vessels, blocking proper blood flow and causing extreme pain.

There is no known cure for these types of arthritis disorders, and the effects are, unfortunately, irreversible. The pain can severely impact a person’s quality of life and limit the range of a person’s physical activity.

However, there are ways to manage the symptoms to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and restore movement. One of the forms of non-invasive treatment is through massage.

Massage therapy can sound excruciating for someone experiencing soreness and pain, but it can help ease physical tension, relax the muscles, and improve blood circulation. If you have arthritis, you may benefit from regular massage and reflexology.

These are the top types of massage techniques that can bring relief to arthritis patients:

1 – Lymphatic Drainage

Your body drains waste from your blood through the lymphatic system. A lymphatic massage helps remove excess fluid from the lymph nodes to allow for better circulation. The massage focuses on the body’s areas where your lymph nodes are, namely the area under your collarbone, the axillary area under your arms, and the inner-elbow area.

Gentle pressure is applied on the surface in sweeping motions to “clear” the pathways. It can help soothe pain in different parts of the body because it removes the build-up of fluid from inflammation that can be caused by arthritis.

2 – Swedish Massage

This is one of the most common forms of massage. In this type of massage, a massage therapist often uses long, circular motions intended to “release knots” in muscle groups. Depending on the person’s tolerance, the pressure can be increased or decreased. Swedish massage is good for improving overall blood circulation and relaxing tense muscles that people with arthritis often have.

3 – RAPID Neurofascial Reset

This type of therapy focuses on connective tissue and is a neurological based, active, therapeutic technique that addresses the central nervous system’s role in alleviating tension and restrictions in the body. This treatment works very quickly to increase range of motion, increase blood flow and decrease pain levels to get you moving again!

4 – Shiatsu

For a more targeted approach, a Japanese technique called Shiatsu may offer relief for arthritis. Shiatsu means “finger technique,” and manipulates the body and joints into different positions through assisted stretching and holding. A massage therapist uses fingers, thumbs, and palms to apply pressure on specific body channels. The technique is said to make the person feel more relaxed, remove internal blockages, and improve overall health.

A regular massage can offer much-needed relief for arthritis patients by helping them relax both mentally and physically. Before you proceed, however, consult your doctor if there are any restrictions based on your condition. Massage should offer relief, not increase discomfort, or cause additional pain.

While a massage is not a cure for the disease, it can help those who have arthritis by significantly relieving pain and improving mobility, consequently helping patients lead a relatively normal life.

Are you looking for an experienced massage therapist in Edmonton, AB? Therapeutic Body Concepts is a massage and acupuncture clinic offering several types of massage therapies and reflexology specifically suited to soothe your sore muscles and relax your body. We are based in Edmonton and offer additional services such as osteopathy and exercise therapy. Call us today to schedule an appointment!

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