Controlling Arthritis Pain with Massage

July 11, 2016

Controlling Arthritis Pain with MassagePeople living with arthritis are all too familiar with the pain and frustration associated with their condition. That’s why they frequently search for new ways to relieve their discomfort and improve their condition—often as a complement to the treatments prescribed by their doctors or rheumatologists.

Enter massage therapy. When delivered by a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT), massage is a widely-recognized, effective, drug-free, short-term arthritis pain relief option that works for many people. Massage can offer great benefits that help with releasing tension, improving circulation, relaxing muscles and joints, and helping to work through stiffness. This makes it an option worth exploring for people who are living with inflammation, muscle tension, stiffness, and joint discomfort due to arthritis.

How Massage Helps

According to the US-based National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, massage performed by a trained RMT can help alleviate arthritis pain and improve joint, muscle and tendon flexibility.1

How? Massage helps relieve pain and eases the muscle stiffness associated with arthritis by improving circulation helping to reduce inflammation. That translates to enhanced blood flow to arthritic joints, improved movement, and reduced pain. Massage uses soft tissue manipulation to help release muscle tension for better flexibility and pain relief—something that people with arthritis welcome.

The benefits of massage and what type of massage may be suitable depend not only on the severity of the condition, but also on the type of arthritis. Although there are hundreds of types of arthritis, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis involves the breakdown of joint cartilage, which can cause pain and stiffness in the affected joints and soft tissue due to muscles, ligaments and tendons that are compensating for the damaged joint. Therapeutic massage administered by an RMT can provide short-term relief of pain, improve joint mobility, decrease swelling, and relieve stress and tension, providing considerable relief from osteoarthritis pain and discomfort.2

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Massage can be a safe, side-effect-free complement to treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints, resulting in pain and stiffness. By promoting healthy circulation throughout the affected areas, therapeutic massage can provide short-term alleviation of RA symptoms. (Individual case studies3 suggest that therapeutic massage may also help slow the deterioration of affected joints, but this has yet to be conclusively established in a randomized trial.)

Getting the OK

People looking to alleviate their arthritis symptoms with massage therapy should first consult with their doctor or rheumatologist in order to determine what type of massage therapy is safest and most effective for their particular condition. For example, many sources suggest that people with arthritis avoid deep tissue massage, or massage performed directly on or near any arthritic points on the body.

It’s also important to be sure that whatever massage therapy treatment is chosen, that it is performed by a Registered Massage Therapist—to ensure quality training, regulation and high professional standards.

By Claire Gavin, RMT
Claire Gavin is the RMT Development and Communications Manager at Massage Addict, Canada’s first and largest membership-based Massage Therapy company.


3 "Positive Systemic Effects Using Therapeutic Massage as a Conjunctive Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis,"

* Massage Discount Offer Conditions
Offer valid to non-members until September 1st, 2016. Limit one per person. Valid only at participating clinics. 10% discount is applicable to the ‘Introductory’ rate only. Valid only if appointments are available, no rain checks and cannot be combine with any offers or discounts. Your 1-hour appointment includes change time and a health assessment to ensure you get a safe, personalized treatment. Each clinic is independently owned and operated.

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