How Massage Can Benefit You and Other Arthritis Sufferers

Written by Julieta Hernandez , Posted in Arthritis, Articles, Massage Therapy

massage and arthritis

Arthritis affects more than 50 million Americans today, and one out of two people will statistically be diagnosed with arthritis at some point. Although dozens of different types of arthritis exist, the primary two forms which affect the greatest number of people are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Let’s take a look at what each of these arthritic diseases entails and the possible massage treatments for each.


The overwhelming majority of people diagnosed with arthritis are those with Osteoarthritis, which affects 27 million people in the US. As the body ages, the cartilage, which is the soft, padded layer between bones, begins to break down, and in some cases, it wears away completely resulting in excruciating pain with every movement. As such, the pain causes stiffness and severely limits a person’s mobility.

Massage Treatment for Osteoarthritis

The primary treatments for Osteoarthritis involve the management and reduction in its symptoms, and massage has been shown to significantly relieve the amount of pain experienced as massage allows the muscles of the joints to relax, which decreases stiffness and improves mobility and range of motion. As the tissues are massaged, blood flow is increased to the affected areas, and inflammation-stimulating substances and cells are removed from the tissues. Some of the most effective massage therapies for the treatment of Osteoarthritis are as follows:


  • Trigger Point

    This massage focuses on trigger points, which a tight area in the muscle that results in transferred, pain to the joints. During the massage, the person receiving the massage focuses on deep breathing exercises while the massage therapist works on massaging the exact spot of the tight area, which releases the constricted portions of the muscles.

  • Reiki 

    This type of massage combines the “Universal Life Force Energy–Reiki–and the idea of a massage. During this therapy, the massage therapist will begin by placing her hands still on the head and work her way down through the seven chakras of the body.

  • Swedish Massage

    Swedish massage is designed to relax the entire body through the use of long massage stretches that guide the blood back towards the heart. Swedish massage focuses on using these techniques to improve circulation and removal of toxins from the body. In addition, some massage therapies can include firm kneading, tapping, bending, stretching, and applying circular pressure with the hands.

  • Reflexology

    Reflexology massage focuses on the foot and hands during the massage to relax and passively improve the range of motion in the joints of the feet, legs, hands, and arms. During the massage, the therapist will apply firm pressure and kneading of the tissues of these joints to work to improve the stress and anxiety of the body.


Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when the immune system begins to attack the connective tissues–cartilage, tendons, and bone–within the joints of the body. Sadly, more than 294,000 children find themselves with a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis prior to reaching 18-years-old. Let’s take a look at how massage therapy can benefit Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers.

Massage Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some of the traditional medical treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis can put you at significant risk for complication and further disease; however, you can find relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis in a newer, totally non-invasive, non-medication treatment through massage, which is especially important for the children with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Some of the most common massages therapies for Rheumatoid Arthritis include:

rheumatoid arthritis massage therapy

  • Swedish Massage

    – (See above)

  • Reflexology

    – (See above)

  • Deep Tissue Massage

    This technique is similar to Swedish massage therapies, but it involves firm pressure to loosen muscles and tissues deep within the body. As such, circulation is improved to aid in the healing of the affected joints.

  • Shiatsu Massage

    During this Japanese massage, the fingers, hands, and palms apply slight pressure to the affected areas of the body without the deep kneading seen in other massage therapies.

  • Aromatherapy

    This massage technique involves the use of plant-based, essential oils, which are rubbed into the skin and tissue during the massage to promote increased healing.

  • Myofascial Release

    The therapist massages tightened fascias, which are tissues that surround all muscles of the body. In response, the loosened fascia allows for increased range of motion and mobility.

Although the facts surrounding the best treatment therapies for both Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis continue to change each day, you should fully communicate your thoughts and physical responses to your massage therapist when using massage therapy for treatment. Under no condition, should the arthritis-relieving massage result in pain or discomfort either during the massage or afterwards. If you’d like to see how a massage can improve your quality of life and reduce your Arthritis pain, contact Matrix Spa & Massage in Salt Lake City, Utah for a specialized massage session because growing older shouldn’t have to hurt.

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Julieta Hernandez

Julieta is the owner of Matrix Spa & Massage in Salt Lake City, UT. She and her staff pride themselves on providing the best massages in a truly comfortable and relaxed environment.

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