Osteoarthritis & Massage

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synovial jointArthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis.  By far the most common type of arthritis in the world is Osteoarthritis or “OA”, also known as “degenerative joint dysfunction”.  In Ruth Werner’s book  A Massage Therapists Guide to Pathology ( a must have), approximately 10% of Americans suffer from “OA”,  and “more than half the people over 75 have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in at least one joint.”  It is a condition that describes the loss of healthy cartilage in one or more synovial joints. Weight bearing joints are the most affected joints, such as the knees, hips, and spine, but also may be commonly found among the distal joints of the fingers. Osteoarthritis is related to age, and caused by muscle imbalance, repetitive use, and/or inactivity that lead to wear and tear.

Osteoarthritis is often felt daily in which there is ongoing deep pain and stiffness around a joint(s). The site of pain is rarely swollen, red and  hot–the telltale signs of inflammation. But, pain is exacerbated when a joint is not properly warmed up, or has been over-used. Once ‘OA’ is diagnosed, clients and therapists may take steps to help halt the exacerbating contributing factors of the disease and may be able to stop and perhaps reverse its debilitating effects!  Based on our experience, articles read, and Ruth Werner’s A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, some of  the following approaches may be beneficial for you or your clients suffering from Osteoarthritis…

Effective Massage Therapy Approaches for Osteoarthritis:

  • Release the muscles surrounding the effected joint(s)
  • Use range of motion, gentle active movements, and gentle stretching
  • Focus on the Gallbladder, Triple Warmer, and Spleen if working with meridians
  • Stimulate the glands, kidneys, and lymph points for reflexology
  • Include Essential oils that reduce inflammation and are analgesic

Analgesic oils to consider would include: angelica, aniseed, black pepper, cajuput, chamomile, cinnamon, citronella, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, fennel, fir, frankincense, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, juniper, laurel, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary, thyme.

Anti-inflammatory oils to consider would include: aniseed, cardamom, chamomile, citronella, clary sage, coriander, eucalyptus, fennel, frankincense, geranium, ginger, helichrysum, hyssop, lemongrass, orange, patchouli, peppermint, rosemary, sage, sandalwood, yarrow

Check out this  recent study demonstrating that regular treatments of  “Massage therapy is safe and effective for reducing pain and improving function to patients with symptomatic Osteoarthritis of the knee”  After reading this study it has become obvious that massage therapy is a valuable addition to traditional osteoarthritis treatments. In addition,  massage  may stimulate the mind-body connection which can lead to more positive attitudes about the body and a greater sense of well-being. Another win for Massage!

                          “He who lives in harmony with himself, lives in harmony with the universe”

Marcus Aurelius