Arthritis is a huge topic, namely because it affects so many people. Conservative estimates say that around 54 million Americans have been medically diagnosed with arthritis. Obviously, that number is projected to be a lot higher when undocumented and undiagnosed cases of arthritis are taken into account.
But despite its prevalence, there is a lot of misinformation out there about arthritis. For starters, it’s not actually a single disease. More than 100 different types of arthritis exist, and the exact manifestations and symptoms of arthritis are wide-ranging. There are, however, a few basic truths.
First, arthritis is more common among women and elderly people. This is based on statistical information from within the medical community. That doesn’t mean that men and women of both sexes can’t get arthritis – they can!
It’s also the number one cause of disability in the U.S., and when we look at the symptoms, we can see why. Arthritis commonly causes pain, swelling, decreased range of motion, and stiffness in the joints. These symptoms are often observed in the hands, feet and knees – but arthritis can occur throughout the body.
Now that we’ve reviewed some key information on arthritis, let’s talk about treatment. A lot of people don’t really consider massage therapy when they think about a treatment plan for their arthritis. After all, there are medications and surgeries that are commonly used to alleviate symptoms. Wouldn’t massage therapy be painful when applied to arthritic areas? Would it really be effective?
These are valid questions, and for anybody who suffers from arthritis (or has a friend or loved one who does), it’s absolutely necessary to find out the truth about various treatment options.
The fact is that massage therapy is widely accepted in the mainstream medical community as an effective and useful tool for patients who have arthritis. Obviously, there are the relaxing qualities of massage (the heart rate and blood pressure decrease, while stress-alleviating brain chemicals like serotonin are released). These are often discussed as part of the general health benefit of professional massage therapy.
But there is also a deep sample size of arthritis patients who have experience specific benefits from regular massage therapy, including reduced stiffness and pain in the joints, lower levels of anxiety, better range of motion, and deeper sleep.
The methods and types of pressure used in massage therapy for arthritis will be specifically tailored to the patient – that’s why it’s so important to communicate openly with your therapist about your arthritis and what you hope to achieve through massage therapy.
If you’re one of the millions of American who suffer from some form of arthritis, and you’ve never tried massage therapy to help alleviate your symptoms, you might be missing out on a very effective tool for treatment. It’s important, however, to look for a therapist who has specific experience in treating patients with arthritis. In some cases, a recommendation will come through your doctor. Either way, don’t be afraid to look around at various therapists in your area and choose the one that you think will work best for you.