Author Archives: pacificmassage

Massage Therapy in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

Massage Therapy in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

In recognition of April as Alcohol Awareness Month, we offer information on the benefits of massage therapy for treatment during recovery from alcohol addiction.

In the early stages of recovery from alcohol addiction, patients often experience an uncomfortable conflict between their body and mind – with the mind knowing treatment is necessary, while the body still craves alcohol. Therapeutic massage help bridge that gap, as a powerful component in an integrated treatment plan.

Integrating massage into a substance abuse program is advantageous in all stages of recovery: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. Medical management of alcohol and drug withdrawal during detox often is not enough to prevent relapse.

Massage treatment reduces the tendency to relapse. General Pharmacology reports that massage therapy increases beta-endorphins in the blood by 16 percent. Alcohol decreases production of endorphins. While the neurochemistry regains normal balance, this is the recovering addict’s most likely time to relapse. ­­­

Research at The Touch Research Institute/Univ. of Miami, has documented the physiological effects of massage, including: massage’s ability to reduce cortisol levels; and the ability of massage to decrease anxiety, depression, agitation and cravings.

In 1998, the Touch Research Institute published findings that a regular massage regimen increases dopamine levels. The fact that massage therapy stimulates dopamine production and decreases cortisol levels makes it highly effective in a standard detox program. 

On a psycho-emotional level, part of recovery is learning to identify and manage situations and feelings that trigger alcohol use. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of the stressors that trigger alcohol consumption. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing and healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings. Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, providing a safe, non-threatening way to manage stress and emotions without the aid of drugs or alcohol.

On a spiritual level, the deep relaxation from massage can provide a still inner place for patients to become aware of their spiritual needs. Recovering addicts have reported a new appreciation of life when they can simultaneously be present, feel good and be substance-free.

Massage has the unique ability to affect all levels of our being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As a valuable component when integrated into treatment, massage helps recovering alcoholics succeed in their recovery.

Sources: Integrative Healthcare Institute: 2005; Miller, N.S.: Treatment of the Addictions: Applications of Outcome Research for Clinical Management. New York: Haworth, 1995. Touch Research Institute, Miami, Florida: 2003. Counselor-The Magazine for Addiction Professionals: Oct. 2003.

Do You Sleep Like a Baby? Massage Therapy Can Help!

Do You Sleep Like a Baby? Massage Therapy Can Help!

SAW 2017In recognition of April as National Sleep Awareness Month, we explore the connection between massage therapy and getting a good night’s sleep – every night!

“Sleep like a baby” is a misunderstood term in our language. It commonly means that one sleeps long and soundly. However, “long and soundly” is not the reality with most babies –  in reality, they wake up and cry every 3 hours!

So… do you “sleep like a baby?” Or do you sleep like the millions of adults who suffer from chronic sleep problems?

There is a sleep crisis in our culture. Getting enough sleep is challenging for alarmingly large numbers of people. According to a National Sleep Foundation poll, 58% of adults experience at least one of the four symptoms of insomnia at least several times a week:

1. Difficulty falling asleep

2. Waking frequently

3. Waking and can’t return to sleep

4. Feeling unrested in the morning

37% reported that sleep deprivation interferes with daytime alertness and activities.

While sleep neurochemistry is very complex, this article explores the crucial neurotransmitter serotonin and its relationship to massage therapy.

Serotonin is essential to our survival, affecting mood, behavior, body temperature, physical coordination, appetite and sleep. Derived from the amino acid tryptophan, serotonin is a precursor to melatonin production. Melatonin quiets and resets the circadian rhythm – periodic cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The chemistry of sleep is relevant to massage therapy because massage can directly influence the body’s production of serotonin. A study on back pain was conducted in January 2000 by the Touch Research Institute in conjunction with the University of Miami School of Medicine and Iris Burman of Miami’s Educating Hands School of Massage, and originally published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2001. It demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.

Massage is a healthy, intelligent and substance-free choice to help people who suffer from chronic insomnia. Because serotonin affects sleep in multiple areas of the brain, it is logical to seek ways to increase serotonin levels for people that are sleep-deprived. In addition, serotonin is needed for our bodies to produce melatonin. As melatonin influences the sleep stage of our circadian rhythm, a natural way of boosting serotonin is a positive sleep-inducing option. This connection calls for further research showing the direct affects massage therapy has on serotonin and sleep. Meanwhile, the existing evidence is adequate to confirm the effectiveness of regular massage therapy for sleepless patients.

Tired and Achy 24/7?

Tired and Achy 24/7?

Image result for chronic fatigue syndrome awareness month

In recognition of March as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Month, we share information on the benefits of massage therapy for this exhausting condition.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a distinct collection of signs and symptoms that affect multiple systems in the body. It varies in severity from mildly limiting to completely debilitating. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officially named this condition in 1988, purposely keeping the name general to include all patients with the wide variety of symptoms that characterize this condition.

The central defining symptom of CFS is extreme fatigue/exhaustion that is not relieved by rest. It may be accompanied by swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, slight fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches, excessive pain after mild exertion, short-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, and/or depression, in addition to non-restorative sleep.

Other symptoms of CFS are prolific and may include: digestive disturbances, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, morning muscle stiffness, and others. There is much crossover between CFS, fibromyalgia, lupus and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as psychological problems relating to living with chronic pain.

Primary CFS treatment consists of making lifestyle choices that support optimum wellness and immune function: stress management, moderate dietary choices, gentle exercise and adequate sleep. Many CFS patients are hypersensitive to medications, and often find that a lower dosage is adequate.

Massage therapy is strongly indicated as helpful for CFS patients, in the following ways:

Pain relief

Improved sleep

Lower anxiety levels

Cleanses blood and tissues

Increases endorphin production (“happy” hormones)

Decreases cortisol production (stress hormones)

Relieves depression

Stimulates circulation when exercise may exacerbate pain.

The caring support of the therapist, combined with skilled touch, has the potential to make CFS less isolating for patients suffering from this debilitating syndrome.

Give us a call to learn more about info and special offers this month for CFS patients.

Pacific Massage Services: 808.885.4459.

Massage Therapy for a Healthy Heart

Massage Therapy for a Healthy Heart

Image result for massage for heart healthIn recognition of February as American Heart Month, created to educate the public about cardiovascular disease, we feature massage for cardiovascular health.

According to Heart Foundation.org, about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain.

A good massage can both calm and stimulate the nerve endings in the skin; release endorphins (happy hormones); and reduce production of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones). Massage helps blood circulate more efficiently, lowers blood pressure, and causes heart rate to slow down.

Stress is a proven major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Research studies suggest that massage therapy can shift a patient’s nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic function. The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes the body for action with the fight-flight-or-freeze response, when faced with a stressful situation. Staying in this state for a prolonged amount of time is a common problem in our stressful modern society, and increases the likelihood of developing or worsening heart disease. Stress speeds up the heartbeat, increases breathing rate and causes blood vessels to narrow in diameter. The parasympathetic response, on the other hand, creates a relaxation response, characterized by reduced heart and breathing rates and dilated blood vessels.

A regular and consistent massage regimen can reduce the risks associated with stress, including cardiac arrhythmia. This is a medical condition in which the heart pumps less effectively than normal, causing less blood to reach the brain and other vital organs. Studies have shown that consistent massage therapy can contribute to reducing the risk of heart attack. Massage therapy relaxes contracted muscles and assists the veins in moving blood through the circulatory system, thus reducing strain on the heart.

Research also reveals that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increase blood circulation. A pilot study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed that inpatient massage treatments performed after heart bypass surgery reduced pain levels, decreased the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and improved sleep.

Massage therapy is usually administered by a trained and licensed therapist who uses hands and fingers to manipulate the tissues of the body –muscles, tendons and skin. When performed by a trained professional, massage is generally safe, with no adverse side effects. Since massage improves the circulation, it facilitates the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells, tissues and organs. The gliding action of the massage therapist’s hands over the skin can have a calming effect on the nerves, which medical studies show can help reduce the adverse effects of stress on the heart.

For people who do not get enough physical exercise, a massage at least once a month is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative. The more often and more consistently massage is received, the more it will help improve health over time.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified or is a member of a massage therapy professional association, such as AMTA or ABMP.

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping the cardiovascular system feel better and function better! 808.885.4459

 

Massage Therapy for Heart Health

Image result for american heart month

In recognition of February as American Heart Month, created to educate the public about cardiovascular disease, we feature massage for cardiovascular health.

According to Heart Foundation.org, about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain.

A good massage can both calm and stimulate the nerve endings in the skin; release endorphins (happy hormones); and reduce production of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones). Massage helps blood circulate more efficiently, lowers blood pressure, and causes heart rate to slow down.

Stress is a proven major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Research studies suggest that massage therapy can shift a patient’s nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic function. The sympathetic nervous system mobilizes the body for action with the fight-flight-or-freeze response, when faced with a stressful situation. Staying in this state for a prolonged amount of time is a common problem in our stressful modern society, and increases the likelihood of developing or worsening heart disease. Stress speeds up the heartbeat, increases breathing rate and causes blood vessels to narrow in diameter. The parasympathetic response, on the other hand, creates a relaxation response, characterized by reduced heart and breathing rates and dilated blood vessels.

A regular and consistent massage regimen can reduce the risks associated with stress, including cardiac arrhythmia. This is a medical condition in which the heart pumps less effectively than normal, causing less blood to reach the brain and other vital organs. Studies have shown that consistent massage therapy can contribute to reducing the risk of heart attack. Massage therapy relaxes contracted muscles and assists the veins in moving blood through the circulatory system, thus reducing strain on the heart.

Research also reveals that massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increase blood circulation. A pilot study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center showed that inpatient massage treatments performed after heart bypass surgery reduced pain levels, decreased the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and improved sleep.

Massage therapy is usually administered by a trained and licensed therapist who uses hands and fingers to manipulate the tissues of the body –muscles, tendons and skin. When performed by a trained professional, massage is generally safe, with no adverse side effects. Since massage improves the circulation, it facilitates the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the body’s cells, tissues and organs. The gliding action of the massage therapist’s hands over the skin can have a calming effect on the nerves, which medical studies show can help reduce the adverse effects of stress on the heart.

For people who do not get enough physical exercise, a massage at least once a month is highly recommended. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative. The more often and more consistently massage is received, the more it will help improve health over time.

Before receiving massage therapy for a heart condition, first consult your primary care physician or your cardiologist. If your doctor advises that massage may help you, find a massage therapist who meets the licensing requirements in your state. If you live in a state that does not require licensing, choose a therapist who is nationally certified or is a member of a massage therapy professional association, such as AMTA or ABMP.

Regardless of your age, size, gender or health, massage therapy performed by a qualified therapist can improve your heart health by reducing the effects of stress on the body, promoting relaxation of body and mind, and enhancing your overall well-being. Give us a call to discover how massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and pleasurable approach to helping the cardiovascular system feel better and function better!

October is Massage Therapy Month!

October is Massage Therapy Month!

Image result for massage therapy monthMassage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching.

As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, neck pain, headaches, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

INJURY. Were you injured at home, at work or in your car? Whether your pain is from a recent injury or you’ve had that nagging ache for a while, massage therapy can give you relief and comfort!

HEADACHES. Do you miss out on work and play because of frequent or severe headaches? Our targeted approach treats migraine and tension headaches with great results!

INSOMNIA. Does insomnia keep you from feeling and functioning your best? Regular massage can put an end to those sleepless nights so you are more energetic and more effective!

SURGERY. If you have soreness, stiffness or poor scar healing after surgery, our post-op massage series can accelerate healing, relieve pain and minimize scarring!

STRESS. Anxiety, depression or stress got you down? Massage therapy is proven to balance endorphin and cortisol production to boost your mood and brighten your outlook on life!

JOINT PAIN. Do have pain in your muscles or joints? Our special techniques can alleviate pain from fatigue, repetitive use, over-exertion, arthritis and more!

CHRONIC CONDITION. Does a chronic fatigue condition such as fibromyalgia limit your activities and reduce your fullest enjoyment of life? We can help with soothing, energizing massage and adjunct services.

PREGNANCY. The childbearing year is filled with joy, anticipation, aches and pains! Relieve the discomforts of pregnancy while lying face our special down on our special pregnancy massage table!

Massage is beneficial for many discomforts from a variety of conditions. CALL US TODAY to learn whether massage therapy is right for you! For the entire month of October, we offer SPECIAL PRICING for our Fall program – Tune-In and Tune-Up with Massage! 808.885.4459.

Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients

Massage Therapy for People with Cancer

Note: The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only. Working in this field must be done within scope of practice, in conventional medical partnership, and with adequate education and training.

“The patient’s body must be touched with hands of peace, whispered to, reverently anointed, or handled as if it is a delicate flower.” Gayle McDonald, author of Medicine Hands: Massage Therapy for People with Cancer.

Image result for massage for cancerAs massage therapy integrates with conventional medicine, more research is emerging on how bodywork can positively affect the course of cancer. Specialized training, awareness of the risks, protocols and modalities of massage therapy for a person with cancer is crucial for therapists before treating an oncology patient. We require written approval of the patient’s physician before starting treatment. We avoid deep tissue work until we receive a physician’s report that the cancer is in remission.

Benefits. Improves blood circulation, balances blood pressure, relieves with fatigue and nausea. Appropriate bodywork includes lymph drainage, trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy, myotherapy and myofascial release, energy work such as Reiki or Healing Touch.

Appropriateness. Skilled touch is beneficial at nearly every stage of the cancer experience: hospitalization, pre- and post-operative, outpatient care, during chemo and radiation, recovery at home, remission or cure, and during the end stage of life. Regardless of how severe the side effects of cancer treatment, there is always a way to increase the patient’s comfort with some type of touch therapy. It is important to have a qualified practitioner who has been trained in working with cancer patients.

Cautions and Contraindications. Cancer treatment places a heavy toxin load on the body, which massage can help eliminate. With a low white blood cell count, the immune system is vulnerable to external pathogens. Until immunity recovers, introduction of germs can have devastating consequences. Therefore, extreme attention to hygiene should be practiced in the treatment of cancer patients. Light pressure is always used, because low platelet count renders the patient vulnerable to bruising or internal bleeding.

Because weakness and fatigue are common during treatment, a conventional 60-minute massage session may be too long and arduous. More frequent but shorter sessions, 20 minutes or less, are a more realistic goal.

Traditional cancer therapies can dehydrate the body, thus the typical use of IV fluids. With a shortage of fluids to flush out any toxins released by bodywork, a massage that is too intense can maximize stress on the liver and kidneys, and can trigger a toxic reaction. Again, brief, light sessions can circumvent this issue.

The theory that massage may cause metastasis is no longer considered a threat. Science now understands that cancer spreads due to genetic mutation, and not by mechanical means such as massage or exercise. However, it is still crucial to recognize there sometimes are contraindications. For example, a therapist shouldn’t work directly on a site of radiation, tumor or lymphedema, without special training. Heat application is contraindicated if the patient has high blood pressure or a heart condition concurrent with cancer.

Protocols. We recommend and utilize four primary elements of protocol for cancer patients:

1. Permission of physician

2. Communication with patients and their physicians

3. Documentation of each treatment

4. Compassion

Medications for Cancer. Because oncology medications are so numerous and complex, it is beyond the scope of this publication to discuss individual drugs. We research each cancer patient’s medications on a case-by-case basis for cautions and contraindications to massage therapy, and proceed with treatment only if deemed safe and appropriate, according to our research sources.

Working with this population is not only challenging, but requires specialized training. Any cancer patient desiring massage should make sure to choose a therapist who is trained in the physiological, mental and emotional components of cancer illness and treatment.

Gentle massage is the most effective, well-known complementary therapy for cancer patients. Research on its efficacy indicates that massage: decreases pain, improves vitality, improves organ function and benefits emotional mood. As our understanding of the benefits of touch for cancer broadens, massage therapy for this population is increasingly in demand.

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month

Image result for massage for elderlyWould you like to age more gracefully, actively and positively?  According to Carolyn Worthington, executive director of Healthy Aging®, it’s all about combining physical, social, mental and financial fitness.  September is Healthy Aging® Month, an annual health observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older.  It provides inspiration and practical ideas for older adults to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well being. It also helps younger adults prepare for healthy aging.

Here are some ideas to get the celebration started:

10 Tips for September is Healthy Aging Month:

1. EAT FRESH.  Make a commitment to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.  September is still harvest time in many areas so seek out local farmers markets and buy local produce.  Make it a point to try to eliminate processed foods and make your meals from scratch as much as possible.

2. EXPLORE.  Your mind is like a muscle – use it or lose it! Start or resume an activity that will sharpen your mental skills, such as piano lessons or a craft. It’s never too late to learn something new! Check out continuing education at local schools, community programs, senior centers, YMCAs. There are many one day, or one evening courses to spark you imagination.

3. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME. Research shows that people’s attitudes, ambitions and preparation for retirement have changed dramatically as a result of the recent economic recession. It has also been found that more and more people want to stay in their own homes and live independently. Use your home as a place for nurturing yourself and exploring your creativity!

4. VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME. By giving back to your community, you help others as well as making yourself feel good.  A win-win for all! Most communities have opportunities to volunteer.

5. GO! Get out and enjoy the landscape!  Fall is the perfect time to travel, and some companies are even encouraging you to go. Certain hotel chains and car rental companies offer discount deals to seniors during the month of September.

6. GO FOR LESS. Sign up for a discount pass on a toll road. Some regions offer discounts such as 10 percent off-peak rate for drivers 65 and older on turnpikes and parkways.

7. EXERCISE.  Take 10,000 steps per day! Exercise 30- 60 minutes a day or walk 10,000 steps.  Find a friend, don’t delay and make a “date” to meet every day or every other day to walk. Choose fun places to walk, like the local park, shopping mall, or even do laps around the local school track. You will have fun and feel better about yourself immediately. Plus, there’s the extra bonus of connecting with a friend or friends on a regular basis.

8. GET SOCIAL. Sign up with Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. According to Forrester Research, an independent research firm, more than 60% of baby boomers consume socially-created content. Keep up with technology, friends, family and job connections through online social media.

9. MONEY SENSE.  Start thinking about Medicare well before your 65th birthday. A good starting point is Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ website at www.medicare.gov for the “Medicare and You” brochure.

10. RE-INVENT YOURSELF WITH A NEW CAREER.  With the uncertainty of Social Security and Congressional discussions about raising the retirement age to 70, if you are age 50+, you may be thinking “one more career”.  Several websites are catering to the demand for jobs:  www.seniors4hire.org, www.retireeworkforce.com, and www.workforce50.com

Do you have tips for positive aging?  Share your ideas of how to take positive steps for your care and well-being as you enter your elder years.

Got Kinks from the Links? Massage Therapy for Golfers!

Got Kinks from the Links? Massage Therapy for Golfers!

Did you know that August is National Golf Month? Tell all the golfers you know about our Golfer’s Advantage Treatments, with exclusive offers and special prices on services and gift certificates for the entire month of August!

As one of the most popular sports in the world, golf has about 30 million people the game worldwide, and 13 million in the US. Once considered a “mind game,” with much attention on strategy and mental focus, golfers are coming to understand the body’s vital role in playing their best game.

Today’s golfers need to have a well-developed upper body as well as general strength, endurance and fitness. Injuries can arise from weak muscles, exacerbated by poor technique, unbalanced posture and repetitive movement.

Many professional golfers receive and recommend regular massage treatments to help prevent little aches from becoming a big pain in the you-know- what.

Whether a big-bucks pro, a seasoned amateur or a hopeful novice, there are some common ailments among golfers.

Most significantly, because golf is a one-sided activity, the body’s musculature is used in an unbalanced way. This results in more strain on one side of the body, depending on right- or left-side dominance, posture, technique and other variable factors. A therapeutic massage, given by a therapist trained in golf injuries, can correct this imbalance by assessing and treating the affected areas and educating the golfer in stretching and exercises customized for their individual situation.

The most frequently-occurring golf injury is “golfer’s elbow,” clinically known as medial epicondylitis. It affects a golfer’s swing, as well as causing severe pain with elbow, wrist and hand movements. Treating golfer’s elbow should be in the repertoire of any good massage therapist who specializes in golf injuries.

Other significant problem areas are shoulders and hips, where repetitive strain, inflammation, swelling and pain can develop. Left untreated, this type of injury can worsen to the point of affecting a golfer’s game – or taking him out of the game entirely!

The feet, ankles, legs, gluteals and back all affect the stability, power and precision of the golfer’s stance and swing. The goal of golf massage is to signal the brain to relax contracted muscles, stimulate blood and lymph to prevent soreness, soothe inflammation, relieve pain and prevent injury.

There is a difference in the type of injuries suffered by amateur and professional golfers. Amateurs are more prone to muscle strain, golfer’s elbow, calf and hip issues. Pro players’ primary problem is pelvic imbalance.

What should a player expect from a specialized golfer’s massage? A typical treatment is a 60-90 minute deep tissue treatment targeting the golfer’s particular problem, as well as assessing and treating legs, hips, low back and shoulders. Extra attention is focused on the dominant arm to treat or prevent golfer’s elbow.

When should a golfer receive massage? This depends on a golfer’s individual situation. Massage prior to playing is recommended in the case of tight muscles and restricted movement. Treatment after a game helps prevent pain, stiffness and injury.

Says golf pro John Fischer, “The reason most people play golf is for the relaxation is offers. It’s a wonderful stress-reducer, provides plenty of exercise in a beautiful setting and it’s just plain fun!”

Of course, golfers want to enjoy their favorite game as painlessly as possible. That’s where massage therapy enters the game!  And some therapists even use a golf ball as a treatment tool!

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Image result for arthritisIn recognition of May as Arthritis Awareness Month, we explore how this painful condition can be helped with massage therapy. Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe over 100 medical conditions and diseases, known as rheumatic diseases.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, massage can help with arthritis in two ways. First, it reduces muscle pain caused by spasms. Second, it increases production of endorphins which reduces pain.

For greatest benefit, massage therapy is most effective on a regular basis with a therapist trained and experienced in working with arthritis. The optimum treatment schedule is once a week for one month, then 1-2 times per month thereafter.

Two studies involving arthritis of the hands and knees each concluded that massage therapy is beneficial:

  1. A 2006 study at the Touch Research Institute in Miami demonstrates effects of hand massage in arthritis patients. Dr. Field shows by grip strength pre and post treatment that the treatment group had significant improvement in mobility and function compared to the non-massage control group. Also, to increase synovial fluid production in affected joints, treating the surrounding joint tissues and establishing a methodical treatment interval is suggested (Wine, 1995). As a systemic disease, RA can create blockage in lymph nodes proximal to affected joints, contributing to pain. Gentle friction techniques increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and assist in the removal of waste products surrounding the affected joints. Massage is contraindicated during an acute inflammatory stage, but when in remission, massage can effectively manage symptoms, prevent inflammation, and reduce joint damage.

Massage therapy is safe and effective to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) report in the first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of this treatment.

The 16-week study identifying the benefits of massage on osteoarthritis patients with pain, stiffness and limited RoM was published in the December 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine. Osteoarthritis, affecting 21 million Americans, causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the CDC.

The 68 study participants were randomly assigned either to an intervention group that received massage therapy immediately, or to a wait-list control group that received massage after an 8-week delay. Both groups continued previously prescribed medications and treatments.

Participants in the intervention group received a standard 1-hour massage twice a week for 4 weeks, followed by massage once a week for the next 4 weeks at the Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine at Saint Barnabus Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, NJ. After the first 8 weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.

The primary study outcomes were changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain and functional scores, as well as changes in the Visual Analog Scale assessment of pain. Measures of pain, stiffness and functional ability were all significantly improved by the intervention as compared to the control group.

Those who continued with only their usual care without massage showed no changes in symptoms. During weeks 9 through 16, they received the massage intervention and experienced benefits similar to those in the original control group. When reassessed 8 weeks after completion of the massage intervention, the benefits of massage persisted at significant levels, with slight reduction in magnitude.

“Massage is free of any known side effects and according to our results, clearly shows therapeutic promise,” said senior investigator of the study David L. Katz, MD, associate adjunct professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology & Public Health at Yale School of Medicine and director of Yale Prevention Research Center. “Massage is important when conventional treatments are far from ideal. NSAIDs are often not well-tolerated. Cox-II inhibitors like Vioxx were developed as substitutes for traditional anti-inflammatory drugs, but pose toxicity problems.”

Katz conducted the study with Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Health-Related Professions. Perlman said “Our results suggest that massage therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment for osteoarthritis,” said Perlman. “Ultimately, massage may be shown to lessen a patient’s reliance on medications and decrease health care costs.”

Perlman and Katz say that further study of the cost-effectiveness and the lasting impact of the intervention is warranted. They have begun collaborating on a follow-up study.”

Our hope is to show that this treatment is not only safe and effective, but cost-effective,” said Perlman. “That could serve to change practice standards so that massage is a more common option for the many patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.”

More info: http://www.arthritis.org