The pain felt by arthritis sufferers can sometimes be debilitating. Depending on the type of arthritis, symptoms can range from joint pain and stiffness to swelling and inflammation in the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists. Arthritis pain is often felt after periods of increased activities, in and around injury prone areas, but can also come on early in morning, immediately after waking up. Because it is such a broad ranging ailment, it is often difficult to figure out the right combination of medication, exercise, and rest to treat it. Massage offers a holistic treatment approach that can have physically and mentally restorative effects on arthritis sufferers.
Oftentimes, progressive and ongoing arthritis pain can have a damaging effect on the sufferer’s mental state. The constant pain can become all-consuming, causing mental and emotional stress and anxiety due to thoughts that perhaps it will never end with this downward spiral often leading to depression. The relaxing effects of regular massage treatments have the ability to alleviate some of this tension and help an arthritis sufferer mentally manage the pain. Especially in the aging community where arthritis is most common and where physical contact is least common, massage’s ability to heal emotional wounds through touch can be an incredibly important part of a treatment plan.
Massage treatment can absolutely bring physical relief to arthritis sufferers but it does it through an indirect approach. The joint stiffness and swelling associated with arthritis pain can often cause sufferers to sit and stand in unbalanced positions and hold their bodies incorrectly, leading to overuse of certain muscles. The muscle pain in certain areas of the body then lead arthritis sufferers to seek out resting positions that only serve to increase the joint stiffness and decrease overall mobility. While massage does not really help with joint stiffness, it does bring relief and balance to the muscles surrounding joints.
Types of massage to treat arthritis sufferers vary depending on the individual. When muscles and joints are very inflamed, a softer approach is taken employing more stretching and long, soft, kneading strokes. More aggressive pressure and deeper strokes can be used but only when symptoms are not as present and not near or on joints. As in all massage treatments, it is incredibly important that arthritis sufferers communicate clearly and often with their massage therapist about any pain or discomfort that they are feeling.
Arthritis is a painful but manageable condition if sufferers take a holistic approach to their treatment. That means the right balance of appropriate medication, light physical activity, and stress relieving massage treatments to treat the entire body and not just the pain.