More on Osteoarthritis Pain Less with Massage Therapy
Osteoarthritis Pain Less with Massage Therapy
Breaking News - December 2006 - Week 2
(Dec 13, 2006)
-- According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, massage therapy may do more than just relax your body: It also appears to reduce pain and improve function in people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.
"This is a very happy outcome, but it is a pilot study in that the duration is short and the population is small," says senior author Dr. David Katz, associate adjunct professor of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine.
"We think that the primary role for massage therapy will be to reduce dependence on pharmacotherapy, rather than replace it outright, and to delay any functional decline rather than reverse the disease. So, the question then becomes, what is the bang for the buck?" Dr. Katz says.
Massage Therapy Use Increasing in Hospitals
Dr. Katz and his colleagues are now researching the cost of massage, in the hopes of convincing insurance companies that it can take its place as a legitimate therapy for this disease.
The American Massage Therapy Association states that massage therapy use in hospitals has increased by 30 percent in the last two years. Of the hospitals that have massage therapy programs, 71 percent indicate they offer massage therapy for patient stress management and comfort while more than two-thirds (67 percent) utilize massage therapy for pain management. Fifty-two percent say they provide massage for cancer patients and 67 percent offer massage to their staff for stress management.
Common Condition Responds to Alternative Treatment
Osteoarthritis is caused by a progressive degeneration of bone cartilage and is the most common type of arthritis in the United States. The condition affects some 21 million people and is associated with aging.
Conventional treatments include pain medication, exercise, hot and cold therapy, corticosteroid injections, and surgery.
The medications used for osteoarthritis, however, are problematic. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, can cause serious gastrointestinal side effects. The cox-2 inhibitors such as Vioxx® that were developed to bypass those side effects are now known to cause cardiovascular problems, and some, including Vioxx, have been taken off the market.
While massage has been shown to relieve chronic lower back pain and musculoskeletal disorders, there has been no research on massage to help osteoarthritis sufferers. At least until now.
For this study, 68 adults with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to receive either standard Swedish massage therapy or to a wait-list control group that started massage eight weeks after the first group. All participants were encouraged to continue with their previous treatments and medications.
Individuals in the massage group received a one-hour Swedish massage twice a week for four weeks, then once a week for the following four weeks.
After the first eight weeks, participants receiving massage had improved flexibility and range of motion and reduced pain.
Those in the control group showed no changes in symptoms until they, too, started receiving massage. Then, during weeks nine through 16, they experienced benefits similar to the first group.
Interestingly, the benefits did not go away even when the massages were stopped.
"The very significant therapeutic response over eight weeks of therapy persisted eight weeks later," Dr. Katz says. There are two possible explanations for the improvements.
In the immediate time frame, Dr. Katz explains, "sensory input [the massage] competes with pain input in the spinal cord, travels faster, and blocks pain symptoms."
Massage may also enhance blood flow to the region affected by osteoarthritis. "Since the acute pain of osteoarthritis is related to inflammation, increased perfusion brings an influx of cells to clean out the debris and facilitates, to whatever extent possible, bone and cartilage remodeling," Dr. Katz explains.
More studies are needed before doctors, patients, and insurance companies can be persuaded to accept this as common practice, he says.
"The end game would be that this would be something people with osteoarthritis would be able to access routinely," Dr. Katz says. "We ultimately want to change the standard of practice, but we don't do that with one study."
Always consult your physician for more information.
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More about massage
Rubbing areas that hurt is a natural human response. Even other mammals do this. Massage is based on the same principle: rubbing and manipulating muscles.
Massage is found to be helpful both physically and emotionally. The rubbing not only soothes sore muscles but the mind as well.
Massaging muscles and soft tissue stimulates nerves, increases blood flow and relieves stress in the muscles. Over the centuries, several massage techniques have developed:
Swedish Massage - This massage technique involves the use of long, smooth strokes, strokes that knead and compress, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping.
Oriental Massage - This technique is very gentle and relaxes a person.
Shiatsu - This Japanese form of massaging is actually a form of acupressure, exerting massaging pressure on certain key points of the body.
Thai Massage - This massage technique also involves the use of Yoga and certain Chinese traditional medicine methods.
Massages are usually given in a quiet room, with soothing background music. A person usually lies down on a special massage table. Massage is a group of manual techniques consisting of both fixed and moveable pressure.
Massage therapists are licensed in 25 states. Most states require 500 or more hours of education and a licensing examination.
According to the AmericanMassage Therapy Association, consumers should ask the following questions of a massage therapist before getting a massage:
Are you licensed to practice massage?
Are you a member of the American Massage Therapy Association?
Where did you receive your massage therapy training?
Are you nationally certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork?
Always consult your physician for more information.
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