Massage Therapy for Rheumatoid Joint Pain; Is It An Effective Treatment Option?

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Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is a condition that leads to inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints in the human body. It is commonly seen in the hand and knee joints. RA can paralyse the normal schedule of people because it makes mobility difficult due to swollen and painful joints. It is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immunity in the body attacks its tissues. 

Many people think that RA and osteoarthritis are the same but in reality, both are different conditions. RA impacts the lining of the joints causing swelling and pain that can also result in joint deformity or bone deterioration.

What are the good options to treat or manage RA?

The experts suggest medicines combined with therapies to treat the disorder. A complete treatment process is designed to suit the requirement of the respective patient. At times, the experts suggest a holistic approach that encompasses lifestyle changes, medicines, and therapies like massage. The aim is to achieve physical and emotional wellness. Emotional wellness is also included because RA can cause anxiety, depression, and irrational behaviour in the patient.

Massage is a great option to treat RA:

You will be happy to know that massage is one of the best treatments for RA. Massage therapy helps to target specific joints and points to relieve stiffness.

Dealing with RA can be a traumatic experience for the patients. But with the help of a physical therapist, the patient feels at ease. 

Apart from bodily comfort, massage helps to restore lost confidence because it releases stiffness and improves the mobility of the joints. As a result, it becomes manageable to return to normalcy and carry out the daily activities with ease. 

Research reveals that patients who have undergone massage therapy with moderate strokes for 4-5 weeks (once/twice per week) on arms/hands have reportedly felt relief after the session. It helped in improving the grip of the patients. RA affects the grip strength of the patient.

Massage and light exercises prove to be highly beneficial. It is easy to combine light/moderate massage sessions with simple grip training exercises with MySquegg, the smart squeezy ball. Patients find massage as a simple technique and have tried self-massage to gain maximum benefits of the treatment. Consequently, a stronger grip and mobility is experienced by the patients. 

Research suggests that patients can go for a weekly massage by experts and self-massage daily to service promising results. The rule of thumb here is that the massage intensity varies from individual to individual. Some prefer light/moderate pressure whereas some like strong pressure. As the skin moves during the massage sessions, it also helps to improve blood circulation in the body. Also, the experts tend to ask the patients about the spot/joint that pains and accordingly, they provide the pressure massage.

Self-Massage Therapy to treat RA:

  • Stroking

Strokes of massage extending from wrist to shoulder and back can be great therapy for reinstalling mobility in the hands. The pressure should be moderate. Then stroke yourself from the wrist to the tips of the fingers and back. 

  • Friction

With 4 fingers, give circular movement on the top of the arm extending across the shoulder. Then go down the arm and reach the top of your hand. Repeat the process on the underside of the arm. 

Though moderate pressure massage is considered ideal, yet there are a few patients who prefer deeper massage with high heat applied on the joints. This, they say, helps in removing inflammation and pain also reduces. Combine light hand therapy exercises to extract maximum benefits.

Final Thoughts

Undoubtedly, massage clubbed with another treatment plan can help to reduce the pain and live a quality life even if RA has been detected.

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