The knee joint is the joint most commonly associated with osteoarthritis. The diminished cartilage within the knee joint causes a deep, persistent ache which is aggravated by use. The simple act of walking can become a painful experience for those who suffer from osteoarthritis. Further deterioration of cartilage increases feelings of stiffness and the joint pain becomes more persistent—often to the point of interfering with sleep. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for osteoarthritis and no way to prevent its onset. The condition progresses slowly, and symptoms worsen over time. There are treatment options available, which generally deal with managing pain and preserving joint function. There are a number of over the counter and prescription medications designed to treat pain, but these come with caveats—unpleasant side effects, risk of dependence due to increased tolerance, and rising drug costs.
Thankfully, the news isn’t all bad. A recent clinical trial has shed light on the benefits that massage can have on treating painful osteoarthritis. In a study conducted by a prestigious university, subjects suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee were given Swedish massage regularly over an eight week period. Two one-hour sessions per week were provided for the first month, followed by once weekly sessions for the remaining four weeks. The results at the end of eight weeks were extremely positive. The recipients of Swedish massage reported a significant decrease in pain, better flexibility and an enhanced range of motion. This trial has proven that massage is a cost-effective, drug-free method that a patient can choose to manage pain and maintain joint function.