Rheumatoid Arthritis is when the body attacks its own immune system.
This, unlike osteoarthritis is a systemic disease rather than a mechanical one. The disease is characterised by flair up and remissive periods. This disease is controlled almost exclusively by steroids and over a period of about twenty years will finally burn itself out, sadly in that time a great deal of damage has been done.
The benefits of massage, particularly for Osteoarthritis but equally applicable for Rheumatoid, although only in a remissive period (no manipulation even of soft tissue should be done in a flare up phase even if the sufferer is able to bear it), are simply that that it can play a strong role in arresting pain and in maintaining movement whilst not relying on medication.
Massage promotes detoxification by helping the body to flush out toxins, which accumulate rapidly in the arthritic body, and thus helps to prevent the build up of the acid capsule that contributes to wearing away the joints.
Likewise the muscles are gently stretched and manipulated to be kept in healthy condition and tone and alongside regular gentle stretching exercise such as pilates or yoga can really keep suppleness in the body despite age and in the case of arthritis sufferers, can prologue movement.
The importance of massage for arthritis suffers today is further supported by the fact that whilst joint replacements today are an excellent achievement of modern medicine, each joint has a life span of about ten years and as such has always been recommended not to be ventured upon before the age of sixty.
Now, with our long living society we have a new problem; replacements as a rule can be replaced twice with little problem but often should a third replacement be required the chances of a full recovery are poor because too much bone has been removed and thus the body has lost too much calcium.
With remedial massage done with proper training gentle traction exercises and isometric exercises can be incorporated into the massage which serve to open up the joint space and so serve to keep ankylosiation or joint fusing at bay and preserve the mobility of a joint as long as possible and thus put off the first joint replacement as long as possible and thereby ensure full physical mobility as long as is possible.
Remedial massage by itself is not enough the sufferer would have to also be committed to gentle stretching exercise as mentioned and also should try to restrict their acid intake by means of their diet.
Working with the therapist in this way really could help control a problem which seems to be increasingly out of control with people becoming far too complacent about having surgery without trying to prologue the use of their bodies first and then feeling let down when they reach a premature restriction of movement.
As with all complimentary therapies it is vital that people who are thinking of embarking upon such treatments check that their therapist holds the appropriate qualifications and experience and that they have confidence in their knowledge and in the knowledge that should their be any areas of doubt or concern medial advice would be sought prior to treatment.
It is also advisable to try at least three treatments and to assess the benefits and to realise that if no benefit is found it is probably not the right treatment for you, or possibly not the right therapist.
Information supplied by:
Melanie O’Brien BAHons ITEC ISPA GCP CBRP MIPTI FE IFA
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