Arthritis is a word that is thrown around a lot these days. Arthritis is defined as a painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. While arthritis is frequently thought of as an old age ailment, it can actually affect anybody, even children. This debilitating disease affects nearly 48 million Americans. It reduces a person’s ability to remain mobile, it reduces their quality of life and the health care costs are staggering. But there is hope for those who suffer from arthritis.
One form of hope is massage therapy. Studies show that regular massage can help reduce pain, increase mobility and even lower health care costs by reducing the amount of medication patients may need. This holds a lot of promise for many people.
There are two main forms of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s own immune system attacks the body’s joints. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is caused by wear and tear of the joints. Regardless of the diagnosis, arthritis can be a literal pain and unfortunately, conventional medicine doesn’t have a lot of answers for treating the disease.
Massage can be beneficial for those suffering from arthritis for multiple reasons. The first is decreased pain. Painful joints and the muscles surrounding them tend to be tight and difficult to move. Massage can free up the joints by loosening the muscles that control them. This leads to decreased pain.
Another way that massage benefits the arthritis sufferer is by increasing flexibility. Regular massage relaxes the muscles. When the muscles are relaxed, they are more flexible and have better range of motion.
Studies show that massage therapy reduces inflammation. When the body is receiving a massage, there is an increase of circulation and improved blood flow. When the circulation is improved, the muscles and joints will receive more oxygenated blood more efficiently. Increased oxygenation to the cells helps fight off inflammation. And since more blood is flowing, it makes it tougher for inflammation to begin.
Massage therapy can also strengthen the immune system. Studies show that people who have the highest levels of stress and increased cortisol levels are also more likely and frequently to become sick. But because massage therapy is so relaxing, it actually can reduce the cortisol levels in the body, thus reducing the amount of stress a person experiences. This also leads to improved sleep which allows the body to repair and rejuvenate itself.
Lastly, massage therapy can reduce the recovery time from an accident. Many arthritis sufferers also end up having more trauma from falls. Because of the increased circulation, oxygen to the cells, decreased cortisol levels and improved sleep, the body can heal more quickly, all thanks to massage therapy.
Whether the issue is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, massage therapy might be very beneficial. So if you or someone you love suffers from arthritis, consider adding regular massages to your self-care regimen. It might just help you get your life back.