separate studies, massage therapy shows promise in reducing pain
and increasing the range of motion for those with osteoarthritis of
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
Here is a
summary of both studies prepared by the American Massage
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.
Recent findings from the Touch Research Institutes of the
University of Miami School of Medicine show marked improvement in
those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis after massage
Specifically, after moderate pressure massage therapy, those
with rheumatoid arthritis had less pain, greater grip strength and
improved range of motion in their upper limbs. (Read a summary of this latest research.)
In fact, the Arthritis Foundation has great things to say about
massage therapy as a pain relief option for those living with
arthritis. Research has shown that massage can lower the body's
production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of
serotonin, which, in turn, can improve mood. Additionally, massage
can lower production of the neurotransmitter substance P, often
linked to pain, improving sleep as a result. (Read the three-page report on massage therapy and
When you train as a massage therapist in a clinical environment,
you'll have more exposure to clients seeking massage for medical
conditions, such as arthritis. A key advantage in earning your massage therapy
certification at National University of Health Sciences is its
internship in the on-campus integrative medical clinic. Here, you
will not only practice massage geared toward relaxation and
wellness, but also have the chance to work with clients referred by
physicians from a variety of medical specialties. Your massage will
be part of an over all treatment plan managed by the client's
Since baby boomers will be the largest population group seeking
health care over the next few decades, it's important for today's
massage therapist to understand how massage can help seniors, and
what special needs they may have. Unlike years past, today's
seniors may be more familiar with massage and more open to seeking
massage for pain and stress relief.
However, bringing the benefits of massage to seniors requires
special consideration: For example, certain stretching and joint
mobility exercises are not advised for older adults. An older
person might have difficulty with osteoarthritis as well as
decreased flexibility. Changes in older clients' skin will require
you to reduce your pressure during a massage.
In National University's massage therapy programs, you'll
explore how to address the needs of special populations like senior
citizens. That way you'll be ready to work with the largest group
of US health care consumers!
In the meantime, the American Massage Therapy Association has
two excellent articles about massage therapy that discuss the
special considerations of seniors:
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