Is Massage Therapy Good for Joint Pain?

A close-up of a man touching the joints of his fingers; he might be experiencing pain. Massage therapy can help alleviate joint pain

When you’re dealing with joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia, the effects can be super debilitating and really make life miserable. Joint pain can also be caused by muscle imbalances, as things like quad tightness can cause very real pain through the knee by pulling on the patellar tendon. And you can have similar issues across the elbow with triceps and bicep imbalances, and other joints as well.

Finding relief from joint pain can often feel challenging without relying on medication. However, there are holistic approaches available. One effective method is massage therapy, which focuses on targeting specific areas of discomfort. Through various massage techniques, therapists can address joint pain and promote improvement. Here’s a brief overview of how it works:

The Benefits of Massage Therapy on Joint Pain

Massage is good for joints for many of the same reasons it’s good for other body systems: it helps your circulation, brings swelling down, and lowers inflammation. For joints specifically, massage therapy can:

  • help control pain and help you relax
  • increase joint motion and reduce stiffness
  • improve muscle and tendon flexibility.

The Best Massage Therapy Regimen for You

Exactly which methods are used and how often you get your pained joints massaged depends on what’s going on with your body. For example, weekly Swedish massage therapy has been shown to produce great results for people with osteoarthritic knees. Neuromuscular therapy (also called trigger point therapy)–which involves applying varying levels of pressure to a tightened muscle for 10-30 seconds–can be especially helpful for hip pain.

On the other hand, massage is not recommended on joints with RA while you have a flare-up going on, as the affected areas can become too tender and hurt at the slightest touch.

Can Massage Make Inflammation Worse?

It’s very common for people to report feeling sore or tight after a massage session. In fact, while you’re getting worked on you might not feel wonderful either…people sometimes classify this kind of therapy as “good pain” (not unlike working out!).

But that soreness you feel is simply the healing response to blood and nutrients being forced into your muscles. And the key is that this soreness should be temporary, usually lasting no more than 36 hours, and afterward you should have only the benefits lingering.

There are some things you can do to mitigate the soreness, as well, such as:

  • drinking lots of water
  • avoiding sugar, alcohol, and caffeine
  • topically applying essential oils such as peppermint, marjoram, and lavender mixed in a carrier oil such as olive oil
  • applying an ice pack to the inflamed area for 15 minutes at a time throughout the day.

Get Your Joints Back on Track at Pledge To Fitness®

Joint pain can be a tough nut to crack, especially in cases like RA, and even the benefits of professional massage therapy can sometimes be only short-term. That’s why we take a multi-pronged approach to joint health that includes exercise that strengthens the muscles around your joints to take the strain off them, and giving your joints the nutrients they crave via healthy food. When these needs are met, the body has an amazing ability to repair and anything is possible!

Learn More About Massage Therapy

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