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Here’s Why You Should Add a Weekly Massage to Your Existing Arthritis Treatment

People who suffer from arthritis may want to consider getting a massage now and then.

According to researchers from Duke University, weekly, full-body massage sessions can significantly improve joint mobility and alleviate pain caused by osteoarthritis — a degenerative disease in which the cartilage in the joints wears down and causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Massage can be a safe and effective complement to ongoing treatment of knee osteoarthritis, at least in the short term, suggests a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine mid-December.In order to understand the effect massage had on joint pain, researchers recruited 200 people with osteoarthritis in their knees.

The participants were randomly separated into three groups: those who got a one-hour, weekly Swedish massage; another who received a light-touch control treatment; and those who received no treatment outside of their usual care.

The study participants were then randomly reassigned to one of the three groups every two weeks. Every two months, they completed a standardized questionnaire that measured their pain, stiffness, and physical functionality — including how well they could climb stairs, stand up, sit down, walk, and get out of a car.

The researchers discovered that after eight weeks, massage significantly improved the participants’ scores of pain, stiffness, and physical function compared to light-touch and usual care.

After 52 weeks, massage maintained the same improvements that were observed eight weeks in, however, there were no additional benefits.

“Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability and affects more than 30 million people in America,” lead author Adam Perlman, MD, MPH, program director of the leadership program in integrative healthcare at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, said in a press release.

“Medications are available, but many people with osteoarthritis experience adverse side effects, causing the need for alternative treatment. This study shows that massage has potential to be one such option.”

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