Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where cartilage gradually thins and becomes rough. The loss of this protective cushion between bone ends can cause them to rub together and results in joint damage. The joints become swollen and painful and over time new osseous tissue is deposited on the bone ends in an attempt by the body to protect against the increased friction. These small bumps decrease the space in the joint capsule and restrict joint movement. The synovial membrane can become inflamed and there will be pain upon trying to move the joint. Osteoarthritis appears to be more common between ages of 45 – 75 and is more likely in women. The damage may occur slowly with ageing or can follow previous injury to the joint from overuse or traumatic damage. Being overweight and having a family history of the disease are also risk factors.
Osteoarthritis is most common in the weight bearing joints of the hips, lower back and knees as well as in the fingers. If the disease is in the spine, it is referred to as Spondylosis. The main symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness. Pain is usually worse after exercise and can prevent good sleeping habits. The constant pain and tiredness can affect patients’ moods. There is no cure for this disease and treatment usually consists of lifestyle management through weight loss and gentle exercise along with pain relieving medication. Ultimately surgery to replace knee or hip joints may be necessary.
Massage is a non-invasive, safe and natural option for individuals suffering from osteoarthritis. With regular massages, patients can not only find relief from the residual pain caused by osteoarthritis, but also find improvement in mobility and flexibility in the affected joint. Pain is relieved as the muscles surrounding the joints relax, releasing stiffness and allowing for better range of motion and mobility. Increased relaxation, decreased stress, and a sense of well-being are also common benefits of massage therapy. Additional results can include a reduction in swelling due to improved blood and lymph flow, improved posture as the joints become re-aligned and the release of endorphins which make the patient feel happier and more able to manage their condition.