How a Massage Can Help Relieve Pain in PsA

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 15, 2021

People with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) often experience stress among their other symptoms. Nearly 30% of people with psoriatic arthritis experience stiffness and pain. A massage may be an effective way to relieve stress and the pain that is associated with PsA.

Types of Massage

Typically, massaging involves rubbing and pressing the skin along with the underlying tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Depending on the type, a massage could include deep pressure or just light stroking. Here are some types of massages you can get for PsA: 

  • Swedish massage. A Swedish massage is a gentle type. In this massage, the masseuse uses long and deep circular movements. They tap on your skin in just the right spots to make you feel energized and relaxed. 
  • Deep massage. The masseuse uses slightly more forceful strokes to target the deeper muscles in the body. 
  • Trigger point massage. The masseuse targets the trigger areas. These are associated with muscle fibers. By tapping these areas, the masseuse loosens the tight muscles, making you feel relaxed. 

Benefits of Massage for PsA

Some common symptoms of PsA are a reduced range of motion, fatigue, stiffness in the joints, pain, and tenderness or swelling. A massage can help relieve these symptoms. 

Pain Relief 

A therapeutic massage for PsA can help provide pain relief by relaxing joints, tendons, and muscles. In particular, massage has been studied for effectiveness in providing relief against back and hand pain. 

Since people with PsA experience pain in these regions, they can benefit from a massage. Make sure you go to a massage therapist who knows about psoriasis, though, so that they do not apply pressure to damaged or inflamed areas of the skin during the massage. 

Better Sleep

People with PsA may not be able to get enough or restful sleep due to excessive pain. A study showed that massage improved hand pain and grip strength in people who received a hand massage for four weeks. 

The massage also improved the sleep quality of the participants. 

Stress Relief

Massage can also promote stress relief in people with PsA. A randomized trial found that massage and Reiki help reduce stress in people after eight sessions given in the course of a month. 

Improves Range of Movement

In a meta-analysis with seven studies and 237 participants, the researchers found that massage therapy helps improve the range of motion in the shoulders. Massaging is particularly helpful in improving the flexion of the shoulders. 

People with PsA often have a decreased range of motion. A massage can help loosen the stiff muscles, improving mobility.

Show Sources

Cleveland Clinic: "Knots in Your Neck? How to Try a Trigger Point Massage to Release Them."
Complementary Therapy in Clinical Practice: "Hand pain is reduced by massage therapy."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Therapeutic massage for pain relief."
Journal of Physical Therapy Science: "Effectiveness of massage therapy on the range of motion of the shoulder: a systematic review and meta-analysis."
Mayo Clinic: "Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits."
National Psoriasis Foundation: "About Psoriatic Arthritis."
Revista Latino-Americana De Enfermagem.: "Massage and Reiki used to reduce stress and anxiety: Randomized Clinical Trial."

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