Can Massage Therapy Help With Osteoarthritis?

by | May 24, 2021 | Functional Medicine, General Info, Healthy Living, Physical Therapy

Most would agree that massage feels good. Some get massages for pampering, others are more focused on recovery from physical activity and some get them for overall health and wellbeing. But, what about getting a massage more regularly when you have chronic pain from osteoarthritis, for example? Is there evidence to support massage being of benefit in this case?

In a continuing education class put out by the American Massage Therapy Association, “Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis”1, they look closer at the research. The evidence is compelling in the many sections where they show that massage is helpful. For the sake of time, these are two highlighted sections that address our question above:

“Study participants who received 60-minute massages improved most.

“This trial was published in the journal PLoS One. The purpose was to build upon the randomized controlled trial discussed above by finding the ideal amount of massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee. In this study, participants were in one of five groups—30 minutes weekly, 60 minutes weekly, 30 minutes twice a week, 60 minutes twice a week, and a control group that received no massage therapy.

The study continued for 24 weeks, assessing the participants at the beginning of the study, then at eight, 16 and 24 weeks. At the 8-week mark, the participants in both 60-minute massage groups had significant improvements in pain, function and global response when compared to the group that didn’t have massage. Pain intensity was reduced the most in the 60-minute, once a week group—significantly more than it was in both the non-massage group and both of the 30-minute groups.2”

“Any massage was shown effective in addressing low-back pain.

“Many people with osteoarthritis of the spine, hip and knee will experience low back pain. This can come either from the arthritis itself or from modifying gait or other forms of mobility to avoid pain from the osteoarthritis. There are quite a few studies that show that massage is an effective treatment for back and neck pain.

One such study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2011, looked at the effectiveness of massage therapy on 401 people who suffered from chronic low back pain. The study results indicate that massage did reduce pain for those who received massage. It also showed that the benefits of the massage on reducing pain lasted for at least six months. The benefits were not based on the type of massage received—in other words, different modalities had about the same effect.3”

Good stuff, right? Now, it’s time to schedule your massage today. Start feeling better. If you want to dig in to the actual research here you go:

1. Tosch, H., n.d. Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis. [online] https://my.amtamassage.org/courses/detail/75/massage-therapy-for-osteoarthritis. Available at: [Accessed 7 May 2021].

2. Perlman A, Ali A, Njike VY, et al. Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e30248.

3. Arthritistoday.org. (2006). [online] Retrieved from: http://www.arthritistoday.org/arthritis-treatment/natural-andalternative-treatments/rem edies-and-therapies/benefits-ofmassage. php [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

4. Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” A.I. Perlman et al. Archives of Internal Medicine. December 11/25, 2006, vol. 166, no. 22, pp. 2533-2538.

5. ResearchGate. (1996). Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled trial. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/6640718_Massage_therapy_for_osteoarthritis_ of_the_knee_a_randomized_controlled_trial [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

6. Nccam.nih.gov. (2012). Study Determines Optimal Dose of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee Pain Research | NCCAM. [online] Retrieved from: http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/020812.htm [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].