Massage Can Help Those with Osteoarthritis of the Knee

2014-01-15_knee _smIn two separate studies, massage therapy shows promise in reducing pain and increasing the range of motion for those with osteoarthritis of the knee.

One study had a group of patients attend supervised self-massage sessions twice a week, and taught them a regimen of self-massage techniques to use at home. At the end of the study, researchers found an overall improvement in stiffness, function and pain for the intervention group, while a control group that did not participate in the self-massage remained the same.

In a second study, patients receiving regular weekly or bi-weekly massage showed reduced pain and stiffness and increased functionality.

Here is a summary of both studies prepared by the American Massage Therapy Association.

It's great to know that massage therapy may have the potential to reduce reliance on prescription and over-the-counter pain medication in osteoarthritis of the knee. 

An NUHS Student's Research in Massage

NUHS has a strong culture of supporting research by its faculty, graduate students, and students in its massage therapy program. The field of massage welcomes new research and case studies that track the benefits and applications of massage for various health conditions.

One massage student, Lauren Camer, did research at NUHS that culminated in a poster that she presented at a national conference after she graduated. She presented her poster at the 2013 American Massage Therapy Association National Convention in Fort Worth, Texas in September. Her topic was "Massage Therapy for Balance and Proprioceptive Deficits in a Juvenile: A Case Report."

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Lauren Cramer presents her research at the AMTA National Convention

The poster was based on the case of a boy with balance problems who received ten 30-minute manual massage therapy treatments over the course of five weeks. The therapist performed balance assessments on the boy before, during and after the massage therapy sessions. Lauren's case study on the boy showed that massage provided a positive and lasting impact.

While working on her research project, Lauren appreciated mentorship from her clinical supervisor, Dr. Patricia Coe, as well as her co-author, NUHS clinical research coordinator, Jen Dexheimer.

"They were always available to answer questions, and helped me with the preliminary work I needed to do to get my research proposal approved by the university," says Lauren. 

Now that she has graduated from NUHS, Lauren Camer is currently a licensed massage therapist in Illinois. She has a mobile massage service in addition to providing corporate chair massages and working in a chiropractic physician's office part-time.

Leading Experts Make Better Massage Teachers

National University is proud of its many of its faculty members who are published in nationwide magazines and professional journals. This includes our faculty who are experts in massage therapy. For example, this November, you'll find our massage therapy clinic supervisor, Dr. Patricia Coe, quoted in O: The Oprah Magazine

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Also, one of National's research professors, Dr. Jerrilyn Cambron, wrote an article on the topic of vetting good massage research for the November/December issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine. Dr. Cambron knows a great deal about massage research, as she is the current president-elect of the Massage Therapy Foundation and a co-founder of

Learn more about our massage therapy programs so that you, too, can come learn with the experts!

Candy Washington

In this video, you'll hear why massage therapy instructor Candy Washington, LMT, feels that NUHS produces outstanding massage therapists. Hands-on training, as well as internship experience in an integrative medical clinic are key reasons. Read more about Candy Washington »

When Massage May Not Be a Good Idea

Most people are great candidates for the relaxation and health benefits of massage therapy. However, there are times when a massage may not be the right choice.

"Certain conditions contraindicate massage, either because of the risk it may pose to the client or to the therapist," says  Patricia Coe, DC, ND, clinic supervisor for National University of Health Sciences' massage therapy program

At NUHS, massage students learn how to communicate with clients about their health conditions and assess whether a massage is the right choice for them that day, which techniques are advisable, and when a note or consultation with a client's physician is in order.


For example, if a client has a cold, flu, or other contagious viral or bacterial infection, the therapist may decline to work with them so that they don't catch a cold and risk passing the infection to other clients. 

"When a client has a cold or flu, a massage might seem comforting," says Dr. Coe. "However, when someone has an infection, their body is already working hard to fight it and recover. A massage can be very stimulating internally and place certain demands on the body during a time when your client should be simply resting."

Another occasion when a massage should be postponed is if the client is intoxicated. Many folks seek out massage while on vacation or under stress. They may have also had a few cocktails to relax as well.  "Intoxication is a risk during massage," says Dr. Coe, "primarily because it desensitizes the client. This makes it hard for them to give the therapist reliable feedback. A massage therapist needs to know what level of pressure is comfortable and what is too much. If you're client is intoxicated, those sensations are unreliable."

""An acute injury is also likely to be a contraindication to massage," says Dr. Coe. "Although it may seem like a great idea to get a massage immediately after straining a muscle, if there is damage to the area, massage may actually interfere with the healing process."

"A good therapist will guide the discussion on health issues so that they can determine the right technique for a client and whether or not a massage is contraindicated," says Dr. Coe. "In our program we give students the tools to do this."

"The healing benefits of massage therapy are many, and it is fairly rare to encounter situations where massage is contraindicated for very long," according to Dr. Coe.