Massage May Help Knee Osteoarthritis
Less Knee Pain and Stiffness Seen With Swedish Massage in Preliminary Study
Dec. 11, 2006 -- Knees hurt? Massage may cut the pain and improve function
if you have knee osteoarthritis, a
new study shows.
Massage therapy "seems to be a viable option" as an addition to
other treatments for osteoarthritis of the knee, write the researchers.
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is mainly
seen in older adults. In osteoarthritis, joints are damaged as cartilage, the
joints' shock absorbers, wears down.
Osteoarthritis often affects the knees, making it hard to walk. The disease
can become disabling.
Massage might improve joint flexibility and circulation, note the
researchers, including Adam Perlman, MD, MPH, and David Katz, MD, MPH.
Perlman works at the Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at
the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Katz is on staff at
Yale University's medical school.
"Massage is free of any known side effects and, according to our
results, clearly shows therapeutic promise," Katz says in a Yale news
The massage study focused on Swedish massage, the most widely available type
in the U.S.
Swedish massage uses long strokes, kneading, and tapping techniques to
target the muscles closest to the skin.
The study included 68 knee osteoarthritis patients who were at least 35
years old (average age: 66-70).
Most were white women. All lived in northern New Jersey and had X-rays
confirming a knee osteoarthritis diagnosis.
First, patients rated their knee pain, stiffness, and function. Then, they
were split into two similar groups.
For a month, patients in one group got two weekly Swedish massages, followed
by a month of weekly Swedish massages. Each massage lasted an hour.
For comparison, patients in the other group waited two months before getting
the same massage treatment.
After eight weeks of massage, patients reported less knee pain and stiffness
and better knee function.
"Massage therapy seems to be efficacious in the treatment of OA
[osteoarthritis] of the knee," write the researchers.
They call for further studies on other types of massage and the
cost-effectiveness of massage treatment.