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Arthritis: Massage and Low Light Laser Therapy


By: Sarah Mertyris, CMT; & Lisa Sullivan, CMT

As many as 1 in 5 Americans live with arthritis, a joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. Depending on the severity of the condition and the location of the arthritis, this disease can range from causing moderate discomfort on one end of the spectrum to absolutely debilitating on the other end. Arthritis sufferers are often encouraged by their physicians to stay active and use a variety of pain medicine to relieve discomfort. Many people look to massage as an alternative to manage their chronic pain from arthritis.

There are many forms of arthritis, some forms and stages may respond well to massage therapy, while others should be avoided:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It is related to the wear and tear of the joint. Massage and Low Light Laser Therapy can be beneficial.
  • Spondylitis is a subtype of osteoarthritis that affects the facet joints in the vertebrae of the spine. Massage and Low Light Laser Therapy can be beneficial.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (OA) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the synovial membranes of the joints. During a flare, the joints are red, hot, swollen and painful. Massage will not help RA during a flare, but Low Light Laser Therapy is beneficial before/after, or during a flare.
  • Gout is the backup of uric acid in the body that builds up just outside the joint capsule at the first metatarsal and proximal phalanx of the big toe (most commonly). Uric acid concentrates in the form of crystals, so massage would be extremely painful and damaging to the surrounding tissues. Low Light Laser Therapy, however, can be beneficial, as it has the ability to identify the root problem and support elimination of the excess Uric acid.

Studies have shown that massage is most helpful for osteoarthritis. Reports from a scientific study by the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in 2006 found that test subjects who complained of wrist/hand arthritis that received regular massage therapy experienced a lowered level of anxiety and depression, and reported less pain and greater grip strength.

Through the use of Low Light Laser Therapy, those suffering from all forms of arthritis can lessen or eliminate entirely the discomfort and debilitating effects it causes. Through modified biofeedback and personalized treatment, joints can be supported and strengthened, inflammation can be reduced or eliminated, and the immune system can be supported and balanced.

Several things happen during massage that provides particular benefit to arthritis pain sufferers:

  • Joints are loosened when adhesions in muscles or ligaments are broken up
  • The production of synovial fluid is stimulated, thus providing additional lubrication to the joint
  • Production of natural pain-killing endorphins increases
  • Spasms which cause muscle pain are reduced

Thinking about seeking help for your arthritis pain through massage or Low Light Laser Therapy?  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Massage is not medicine. Always start with a diagnosis of your condition from a doctor to determine which type of arthritis you have and whether massage is right for you.
  • Communicate with your therapist about your arthritis. Tell them which type of arthritis you have and what joints are affected in your body.
  • Maintenance is the key. We have had the best results with clients that start off by seeing a therapist once a week for a month, and then maintain regular sessions about once a month.

If you have questions or would like to try using massage or Low Light Laser Therapy as an alternative to medication to lessen the impact that arthritis has made on your life, then please give us a call at HOPE Wellness Institute.

Referenced materials: http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=13519 http://www.disaboom.com/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra/arthritis-massage-therapy-alternative-pain-relief http://www.arthritis.org/arthritis-and-massage-what-you-should-know.php http://www.arthritis-glucosamine.net/blog/arthritis-massage.php

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