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Study Finds Massage Beneficial for Rheumatoid Arthritis

In April of this year, The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine announced the results of a new study that concludes moderate pressure massage therapy can decrease pain for rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Additionally, the study found that rheumatoid arthritis patients experienced perceived greater grip strength and greater range of motion in their wrists and large upper joints, including elbows and shoulders, after receiving moderate pressure massage therapy for one month. The study’s overview and results were published in the 2013 19th edition of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice Journal.

The study was supported in part by Massage Envy which has donated more than $150,000 over the last eight years to research related to the benefits of massage therapy. “Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes joints to become swollen, tender and stiff,” said C.G. Funk, vice president of industry relations and product development for Massage Envy. “While there is no cure to date, we do know now that moderate pressure massage therapy can help relieve pain and improve the quality of life for patients.” Funk states that the findings will be utilized to better educate Massage Envy therapists, members, guests and the public.

Led by Tiffany Field, Ph.D., of the Touch Research Institute, the study examined the effects of moderate pressure versus light pressure massage therapy on 42 adults with rheumatoid arthritis in the upper limbs. The adults were randomly assigned to a moderate pressure or a light pressure massage therapy group. A therapist massaged the affected arm and shoulder once a week for a four-week period and also taught the participant self-massage to be done once daily. By the end of the one-month period, results of the study demonstrated the moderate pressure massage group had less pain, increased grip strength, increased wrist flexion, increased elbow flexion and increased shoulder abduction. The study also found that participants in both groups experienced a reduction in depressed mood and anxiety.

“As patients with rheumatoid arthritis work with their doctors to determine the best treatment option, we recommend discussing routine massage therapy given the positive effects found in our study,” said Field. “In addition to physical activity, such as yoga, moderate pressure massage therapy along with self-massage techniques can help manage the pain and stress that occurs from various forms of arthritis.”

In 2011, Massage Envy formed a partnership with the Arthritis Foundation to raise awareness and funds to support the organization’s mission to prevent, control and cure arthritis. In total, Massage Envy has raised more than $1 million in two, one-day Healing Hands for Arthritis events. The brand is also a national sponsor of the Arthritis Foundation’s 250 Arthritis Walk® events around the country, where local Massage Envy owners share information about the benefits of massage therapy, provide chair massages and support the Arthritis Foundation at their respective local walks. Massage Envy and the Arthritis Foundation share a common understanding about the devastating effects of the disease on the body and the potential for massage therapy to relieve and control certain symptoms.

Serving the Coachella Valley for over six years, Massage Envy has locations in La Quinta (760.771.2244), Palm Desert (760.779.1954), and Palm Springs (760.969.4800). The valley-wide Healing Hands for Arthritis™ fundraiser is September 18th. For more information, visit www.massageenvy.com/healing-hands-for-arthritis.aspx

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