joint pain

Does Massage Help With Arthritis? Benefits and Research

Does Massage Help With Arthritis? Benefits and Research

If you have arthritis, you know the struggle of living with chronic pain. This condition causes inflammation in your joints, making your day-to-day movement feel stiff and painful. And sometimes, these symptoms don’t only have a physical impact — they can take a toll on your emotional well-being, too.

With this in mind, you might be wondering about natural, complementary therapies to help your joints (and your mind) feel better. One such therapy is massage — but does massage help with arthritis?

Below, learn about the benefits of massage for arthritis, along with the research, self-massage tips, and what to know before you get started.

The Benefits of Massage for Arthritis

So, how can massage help arthritis? Here’s what the research shows so far:

1. May Ease Joint Pain 

In a small 2019 study, researchers found that a 20-minute, once-a-week massage helped participants ease their hip pain and sleep better. There’s also been research showing massage may help with hand pain and neck pain.

But how can massage provide these pain-relieving benefits? For one, it offers a boost of oxygen-rich, healing blood flow to targeted areas. At the same time, it loosens up the muscles surrounding the joints for more free-flowing movement. 

3. Uplifts Your Mood and Eases Stress

Living with chronic pain can take a toll on anyone’s mental health. And according to the CDC, 1 in 5 U.S. adults living with arthritis also has symptoms of anxiety or depression. But the good news is that regular massage may have the power to improve your emotional well-being.

Massage boosts your mood and activates your body’s relaxation response, allowing you to let go of physical and mental stress. Additionally, past studies have shown that it can increase feel-good neurotransmitters while lowering stress hormones.

3. Pain-Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Several studies have found positive results regarding massage therapy for those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

A 2022 trial of 60 participants looked at whether Swedish massage could make a difference for those living with RA. The results showed that two-to-three massages per week eased participants’ pain and reduced the number of painkillers they took over time.

And if you’re wondering which type of massage to try, studies have shown that moderate pressure may be the way to go.

A 2013 study looked at the difference between moderate and light pressure massage for patients living with RA.

Forty-two participants were randomly placed in two groups. They both received arm and shoulder massages once a week for four weeks — one group receiving light pressure, and one receiving moderate. They were also taught how to use daily self-massage. By the end of the study, the moderate massage group reported better outcomes in pain, grip strength, and range of motion.

4. May Reduce Pain and Stiffness in Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common kinds of arthritis, affecting 32.5 million adults in the U.S. alone. Fortunately, studies have shown that massage may help those with this achy, stiff joint condition find some relief.

In a 2019 study, researchers found that massage helped with pain, stiffness, and physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Beyond that, a 2022 review of 12 studies concluded that massage therapy may work as a short-term way to improve knee pain and stiffness.

How to Self-Massage for Arthritis

To try self-massage for arthritis at home, you can use your hands or ask a partner to help you with:

  • Swedish or effleurage massage, which loosens up the muscles by using long, relaxing strokes.
  • Moderate-pressure massage. Moderate pressure should never hurt, but it should feel a tad deeper than Swedish or light massage.

Can You Use Massage Tools for Arthritis?

The regular cost of a massage therapist can get pricey, and investing in an at-home massage tool can help you save money and get daily relief. But which tools are worth trying?

For an all-around medical massage experience, a high-quality body massager like the MedMassager Body Massager Plus is a great option. This therapeutic tool can bring you restorative benefits ranging from general relaxation to pain and stiffness relief.

Beyond that, you can also mix it up with a foam roller or massage ball, both of which can help you relieve tension in the connective tissue around your muscles. 

Considerations and Risks to Keep in Mind

As with anything that affects your health, there are some considerations to keep in mind before trying massage therapy for arthritis. 

Here’s what to know:

  • Talk to your doctor before adding massage to your routine. There are over 100 different conditions that can lead to arthritis, and certain types may respond better to physical touch than others. A doctor’s expertise can help you make an educated decision as to whether massage is right for you.
  • Look out for any contraindications of massage for arthritis. You might not be a good candidate if you’ve suffered significant joint erosion or have skin conditions that could become aggravated by touch. Check with a doctor if you have high blood pressure, varicose veins, or another condition that may become affected by massage.
  • Avoid massaging directly on joints, especially when you’re in a flare-up. Try to keep the massage close to the area, rather than on top of it. In doubt, know that massage should make you feel relaxed and at ease, and it should not cause you pain. 

Does Massage Help with Arthritis? The Bottom Line

While the research on massage and arthritis is in its early stages, the results are promising so far. Many people find that a soothing massage is a remarkable way to ease their joint pain and improve their quality of life overall.

Before you get started with massage, be sure to check with a health professional to ensure you’re good to go. They can also give you some tips, including which areas you may want to focus on or avoid.

Getting a massage every week can be expensive. But luckily, a quality medical massage doesn’t have to break the bank. MedMassager is one brand that creates at-home massage tools trusted by physicians and health professionals around the world. 

Learn more about what these tools can do, or check out the MedMassager Body Massager Plus today.

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