Seattle Massage, Health and Wellness Blog

Swedish massage in Seattle Helps Manage Osteoarthritis Pain

by Thrive on 02 July 2012 at 21:05

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Seattle massage gives great benefits to osteoarthritisAs we age we gain wisdom, experience, confidence and many other helpful things, unfortunately we also lose things like joint cartilage.  As we get older, the cartilage surrounding and padding our joints begins to deteriorate.  This loss of joint cushioning is the primary reason that more than 21 million people in the United States suffer symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Until recently there was little physicians could do to help manage the pain associated with osteoarthritis.  The medications available were effective, but the side effects from those medications were often more damaging than simply dealing with the pain.  The result was that patients often had to make a choice between risking side effects that could potentially kill or seriously injure them, or living a life filled with pain and discomfort.

Luckily, other viable options have presented themselves in recent years.  One of the most promising treatments for pain management of osteoarthritis is Swedish massage therapy.  While further research needs to be conducted, results from small studies indicate that Swedish massage is capable of reducing pain and increasing range of motion in the short-term and may offer long-term pain relief.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Seattle massage therapy for knee pain from osteoarthritisOver time, the protective cartilage found at the end of your bones wears down and causes pain and stiffness in the joints.  The degenerative disease is the most common form of arthritis and is sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.  Most people suffering from osteoarthritis are elderly, though it is not unheard of for younger adults to suffer from the disease.

Every joint in your body is susceptible to osteoarthritis, but it is most commonly found in the joints that receive the most use like the knees, hands, hips, lower back and neck.  There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis and the degenerative nature of the disease means it will slowly get worse over time.  However, a number of treatments are available that help relieve pain, improve function and slow progression of the disease.

Signs of Osteoarthritis

The slow progression of osteoarthritis makes it unlikely that you will wake up one morning and realize something is very wrong.  Instead, you will likely notice a slight increase in both the number and severity of symptoms over time.  It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of early osteoarthritis so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.  Early treatment and management of osteoarthritis helps slow the progression of pain and joint stiffness the disease causes.  Below are a few of the signs to be on the lookout for.

  • Pain – You may experience pain in a joint during or after movement
  • Stiffness – Joint stiffness is typically most noticeable early in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • Decreased flexibility – A gradual loss in range of motion is typical of Osteoarthritis disease.
  • Tenderness – When pressure is applied, you may feel a tenderness in the joint
  • Grating or rubbing sensation – You may be able to feel or hear a rubbing sensation or sound when moving the joint.
  • Bone Spurs – It is common for small bits of bone to form around the injured joint.

The presence of one or more of the above symptoms does not necessarily indicate the presence of osteoarthritis, but they are typically good indicators.  If you experience extended periods of swelling, stiffness or pain in the area of your joint you should see a doctor.

How can Seattle Massage Therapy Help?

A 2006 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that massage therapy was effective in reducing pain and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis in their knee.

The study consisted of 68 adults suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.  Participants were separated into two random groupings; one group was to receive Swedish massage therapy while the other group acted as a control for the first eight weeks of the study. The control group did not receive massage therapy during the first eight weeks.  Following the initial eight weeks, the second (control) group also started a Swedish massage therapy program.  All participants were instructed to continue their current course of treatment and medication throughout the study.

The first group of participants received massage therapy for one-hour durations twice a week for the first four weeks of the study and once a week for the next four weeks.  The control group did not receive massage therapy during this time.

At the end of the first eight weeks of the study, massage therapy recipients exhibited a reduction in pain and increased flexibility.

At the beginning of the ninth week, people in the control group were started on the same Swedish massage therapy regimen as the previous group.  While the control group showed no improvement prior to receiving therapy, they exhibited results similar to those of the first group at the end of week 16.

Particularly interesting was the fact that the benefits of the massage therapy did not go away.  The initial treatment group (weeks 1-8) did not receive treatment during weeks nine through 16, but retained the increased flexibility and reduction in pain through week 16 and beyond.

Let a Seattle Massage Therapist Help Manage Osteoarthritis Pain

The Seattle massage therapists at Thrive Healing Massage are trained in providing Swedish massage therapy techniques for a wide range of patients.  If you are suffering from the symptoms of osteoarthritis, our therapists can help manage your pain and restore function.  Contact us today at (206) 547-5677 to make an appointment and let our Seattle massage team help you get your life back.



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