Benefits of Massage Therapy – Arthritis

Over 20% of Canadian adults suffer from some form of arthritis, and the likelihood of suffering from arthritis only increases with age. Arthritis can cause significant pain which can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life. It can mean that an individual will be unable to enjoy their favourite activities, and it may also mean that an individual is unable to independently live their lives.

Increasingly, physicians are recommending that people consider non-pharmacological options as part of their treatment plan for arthritis. Massage therapy is one effective option that can help people with arthritis reduce their pain and improve their function.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis affecting about 10% of the population. OA can negatively affect both physical and emotional wellbeing. Recent research suggests that OA is a disease marked by a dysfunction in the repair of joint cartilage, especially in the weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. Over time it can lead to pain, stiffness, loss of mobility, boney changes, decreased function and negative impacts on your mental health.

Joint injury, infection, genetic factors and joint mechanics may play a part in the onset of osteoarthritis.

Massage therapy has been shown to reduce pain and stiffness and improve function, flexibility and mobility, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety. Massage therapy along with home exercise advice can also help people with OA more effectively perform their regular activities of daily living, which can help improve their quality of life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints and commonly leads to pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis can have a significant impact on regular daily activities and negatively impact someone psychologically as well as physically.

Massage therapy has been found to benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis in a number of ways, including decreased pain, improved grip strength, and increased range of motion. Another beneficial part of the treatment plan for patients with rheumatoid arthritis is regular exercise, which can be beneficial by reducing pain and increasing mobility as well as improving psychological well-being. Recommending exercise is part of a massage therapy scope of practice, and RMTs can recommend an exercise program that would be right for you.

Massage Therapy Can Help

Both massage therapy and regular exercises which can be recommended by an RMT, have been shown to be effective in helping people with various types of arthritis reduce their pain and improve their function. Arthritis can have a significant negative impact on a person’s life, and can prevent someone from participating in the workforce, completing their regular daily activities or enjoying the activities they love. Massage therapy is one of the treatment options that can help people with arthritis be more comfortable and participate more fully in all aspects of their lives.


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