Top Three Science-Backed Massages for Arthritis

Pain and swelling are symptoms that someone with arthritis deals with on a regular basis. It can limit mobility, complicating the easiest of everyday tasks. For example, something as simple as walking to the bathroom and squatting over the toilet can be painfully difficult for someone with arthritis in the knee. Fortunately, if you or someone you know is struggling with arthritic pain and inflammation, a massage may provide some relief.


How Do Massages Help With Arthritis?

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine demonstrated the following benefits of massage therapy for arthritis:

  • Pain relief
  • Increased local circulation
  • Enhanced mobility
  • Improved mood and quality of life

Researchers of a 2017 study published in the same journal echoed similar findings, concluding that massage therapy improved muscle relaxation, mobility, and overall quality of life. One of the participants mentioned being able to walk longer distances, up and down stairs, and participate in outdoor activities. Another participant mentioned experiencing a reduction in their reliance on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage pain.

Learn more about arthritis.


Recommended Types of Massage for Arthritis

A massage involves manipulating the skin, muscles, and connective tissues using the hands or electric massage devices to ease arthritis symptoms. Depending on the type of massage and an individual’s needs, the intensity can differ from subtle and soothing to firm and revitalizing.

Massages with the potential to relieve pain and tension from arthritis include:



1. Swedish Massage

A 2021 study revealed that the motions associated with a Swedish massage can reduce muscle stiffness and joint soreness, therefore, minimizing the need for painkillers. This technique and its long, fluid motions also boost blood flow, which may help improve mobility.


2. Myofascial Release

This massage technique may ease arthritis symptoms by manipulating the fascia or connective tissues, including nerves, blood vessels, and muscles.

In one study, a patient diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and collagenous colitis, a disorder affecting the colon, showed improvements in pain and quality of life following six sessions of myofascial release therapy. The patient experienced positive effects for five weeks following the final treatment, though the symptoms reemerged near baseline measurements. Two additional therapy sessions reinstated the positive effects.

The research suggests that ongoing sessions of myofascial release therapy may help manage arthritis symptoms.


3. Hot Stone Massage

This massage technique has multiple health and wellness benefits, including muscle pain and tension relief, reduced inflammation, improved flexibility, and increased blood flow – all of which are fundamental to managing arthritis symptoms.

A hot stone massage involves placing smooth, heated stones to pressure points along the body. As heat radiates from the stones, the recipient enters a state of deep relaxation and experiences improved circulation, along with arthritis relief.


A Word of Advice Before You Book a Massage for Arthritic Pain

A massage can be an effective treatment for arthritis, but its effects are typically short-lived. To alleviate arthritic pain and inflammation, seek medical advice from a healthcare professional. An extensive, more effective treatment program for arthritis may include a combination of massage therapy, medication, physical exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Certain massages may also do more harm than good to someone with this chronic condition, so remember to consult a doctor before attempting to soothe arthritis with massage therapy.