If you suffer from the pain, swelling, or stiffness of arthritis, you are not alone. Millions suffer from this disease, which literally means "joint inflammation." Even though there is no known cure for arthritis, certain measures can slow down the process and help you live more comfortably. Therapeutic massage is one of the these measures.
Why Therapeutic Massage? Therapeutic massage can help manage the discomforts of arthritis in a number of ways.
Pain relief. Massage can reduce the devastating grip of arthritic pain by helping you refocus attention on the pleasant sensation of nurturing touch. Massage also directly address muscles and their connective tissue coverings, called fascia, that can painfully contract around arthritic joints. Massage gently coaxes your tissues to relax and lengthen, helping you enjoy greater comfort in the hours and days following your massage.
Reduced swelling and improved joint health. When tension is relieved, circulation improves. This cleanses tissues of irritating by-products from arthritic inflammation and improves nutrition to tissues. Swelling often lessens as excess fluid enters the circulatory system where it can be eliminated. With regular massage, natural joint lubrication is also likely to improve.
Improved mobility. Massage relaxes muscles and increases the pliability of fascia, both of which can limit your movement. this helps increase both comfort and range of motion in your daily activities.
Support for exercise. Research indicates that moving and exercising appropriately can slow the degenerative process of arthritis, both in the joints themselves and in muscles which can atrophy with disuse. Because massage can reduce muscle pain and improve joint mobility, you may find it easier and less painful to stretch and exercise appropriately.
Stress Relief and Arthritis Emotional stress can increase your sensitivity to pain and drain your energy for dealing with arthritis and the demands of normal life. Therapeutic massage can help by eliciting the body's relaxation response, resulting in a deep sense of calm. This can leave you feeling more rested, optimistic, and energetic. Sleep usually improves in the days following a massage, allowing your body to further repair and restore your energy levels.
Stress relief can play an especially positive role in rheumatoid arthritis. Research shows both that emotional stress can impair the body's immune response and that regular massage can improve immune system function. Since rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disorder, regular massage between flare-ups can make you less susceptible to acute episodes.
Meeting Your Individual Needs Depending on your condition on a given day, I will draw from a variety of hands-on and other techniques such as gentle stretching or warm and cool applications. I will be delighted to explain my approach, as well as any specialized experience or training in working with arthritis. Additional approaches that provide relief to many arthritis sufferers are appropriate exercise, good nutrition, heat and cold therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs or herbs, physical therapy, frequent rest, and stress management. I can work with your family physician or rheumatologist to create the best program to manage your arthritis.
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