Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that results in the immune system mistakenly attacking the own body’s tissues. It causes problems with the joints and can affect the whole body with fevers and fatigue.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have found relief from the resulting joint pain through massage. The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine has conducted a number of studies on the benefits of massage, including research that has focused on how the practice can help people with arthritis. Recent studies from the Touch Research Institute have found that regular use of massage therapy has led to improvements in pain, stiffness, range of motion, hand grip strength and overall function of the joints for participants.
So what makes massage beneficial to people with forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis? Studies have shown that massage can lower your body’s production of cortisol (a stress-related hormone), while also boosting your body’s serotonin levels (a hormone linked to mood). Massage has also been shown to reduce the production of the neurotransmitter substance P that’s often linked to pain.
If you are interested in incorporating massage into your arthritis treatment, you first need to consult your rheumatologist or primary-care physician and make sure that massage is safe for you.
If you have any of these issues, be especially cautious:
• Damaged or eroded joints from arthritis
• Flare of inflammation, fever or a skin rash
• Severe osteoporosis (brittle bones)
• High blood pressure
• Varicose veins
Next, be sure to talk to the massage therapist about your arthritis and what parts of your body it affects the most. Pressure in certain areas or moving your arms and legs into various positions may be difficult depending on the nature of your joint damage. Lastly, if massage makes your pain or stiffness feel worse, it may not be right for you.
Christopher Stipp is the Director of Online Marketing for Massage Envy. Connect with Christopher on Google+.