Massage therapy will not cure rheumatoid arthritis but it will definitely offer a rheumatoid arthritis pain relief and will lessen the stress associated with it.
Why Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is considered one of the popular alternative or complementary rheumatoid arthritis treatments because:
- It lessens muscle tension so that stiffness and muscle pain is reduced.
- It promotes better blood flow.
- It improves joint movement and flexibility.
- It reduces inflammation and the pain that goes along with it.
- It is relaxing hence people don't feel stressed out.
According to a recent study, massage therapy has helped to increase grip strength in the hands of people who suffer from arthritis. In a four week period, a massage was given once a week to participants in the study. In addition, the participants were asked to perform the same massage routine on a daily basis.
Different Types of Massage Therapy
There are different types of massage therapy used for managing arthritic pain. These are:
1. Swedish Massage. Swedish massage is a whole body massage that involves the following techniques:
- Effleurage where there is a gliding movement of the hands that is meant to relax the muscles and calm the nerves. The pressure used is light to medium.
- Petrissage which involves kneading of the flesh.
- Friction strokes which are supposed to attack deeper problem areas in the muscles. This technique involves the most pressure.
- Vibration where parts of the body are gently shaken.
- Tapotement is a tapping movement which can be done with cupped hands, using the side of the hands or by curling the hand into a loose fist.
2. Myofascial Release. During a myofascial massage, the patient is massaged using long and stretching strokes. This approach releases tension in the fascia, the connective tissue surrounding the muscles.
3. Trigger Point Therapy. In this approach, trigger points are identified then pressure is applied (using the fingers) so that they no longer cause pain to other parts of the body.
4. Reflexology. Reflexology is similar to trigger point therapy in that they both use pressure to ease pain but the former is restricted to points in the hands and feet.
5. Acupressure and Shiatsu. In acupressure and shiatsu, the fingers are used to apply pressure on specific regions of the body. They are similar to acupuncture in that they all "attack" the same points in the body to help release or control pain.
6. Deep Tissue Massage. This approach attacks the areas beneath the surface muscles so strong pressure is usually applied.
Massage therapy provides a safe rheumatoid arthritis relief and while it is true that it doesn't eliminate arthritis altogether, it improves quality of life by effectively managing the pain that comes along with it.