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Massage Therapy for Hand Arthritis: Things You Need to Know

Massage Therapy for Hand Arthritis: Things You Need to Know

Hand arthritis is a chronic condition that occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions your bones wears down over time, which will affect the joints in the hands, joints and tendons in the wrists, elbows, and arms. Symptoms of hand arthritis include stiffness, pain, inflammation, and decreased range of motion in the affected area, which can seriously affect the patient's daily life.

Common treatments for hand arthritis include pain relievers, splints, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and even surgery may be necessary. Massage therapy can also help with inflammatory types of arthritis. A study called Researching the Effects of Massage Therapy in Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis (published in Massage Today, 2009) found that regular massage can help relieve the pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis and also help improve joint function, sleep quality and daytime energy levels. Today, let's discuss what you need to know about hand massage for arthritis.

Massage with A Massage Therapist

1. Find the Right Massage Therapist for You

Finding the right massage therapist can be a challenging task, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips to help you find the right massage therapist for your needs:

  • Look for someone with experience treating arthritis - Experienced massage therapists understand the disease progression, understand what areas of the body to target for relief, and have the ability to determine which massage techniques will bring the most relief.
  • Do your research - Take some time to explore massage therapists near you. Research their experience, training, and credentials so that you can narrow down your options and find someone who is the best fit for you and your needs.
  • Find referrals - Ask friends, family members, and co-workers who they recommend and why. Listen to their experiences and recommendations so that you can make an informed decision.
  • Schedule a consultation - Once you have narrowed down your list of massage therapists, schedule a consultation to meet with them and make an informed decision. Ask questions about their experience, approach, and credentials.

2. Communicate your injuries and needs

Before the session, make sure to talk to the massage therapist about any current injury or joint damage, what your expectations and needs are. This can definitely help your massage therapist to adjust the type of massage for you and the level of pressure they used. Be honest and open so that they can help you achieve your goals.

3. Speak up when you feel uncomfortable

If massage technique or pressure is too painful, you need to inform your massage therapist right away. If you remain silent, you will not only be in pain for the duration of your massage, but you risk making the problem worse or irritating existing injuries. You should also let your massage therapist know if any other areas are uncomfortable or hurting, even if you are not sure why this is the case. By speaking up, you are giving your massage therapist important information for developing a customized massage plan. Communication to your massage therapist is the key to having a successful massage.

Massage with A Hand Massager

1. Consult the doctor prior before using it

It is important to have an accurate diagnosis and to understand how massaging may affect your arthritis. In some cases, massaging can make arthritis worse and even cause further damage to the joints. A doctor can help to determine whether a hand massager will be beneficial or potentially further damaging to the patient's hand arthritis.

2. Choose the right hand massager for you

Hand massagers come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, can be used to provide massage therapy to different areas of the hands, palms, wrists, and fingers. There may be one that works better for you depends on your hand shape/size and your particular symptoms. Make sure to select a hand massager that has adjustable settings so that you can tailor the massage to your needs.


3. Keep the massage mode and pressure comfortable

Different massage techniques are available, such as vibration, kneading or pressure, choose the one works batter and comfortable for you. Moderate pressure is more effective than light. Don’t be afraid to go deep, but don’t push too deep as too much pressure can irritate inflamed joints and cause damage to your hands. Stop or lighten up when you feel painful and discomfortable.

4. Try the heating setting

Heat therapy helps soothe stiffness and pain in arthritic joints, and promote better blood circulation. Incorporating heat into the massage is a great way to amplify the effects of treatment. Keep the heating temperature comfortable and avoid getting burned.

RELATED: Hand Massagers for Pain-relieving: Are They Worth It?

General tips for hand massage

1. Make regular massage therapy and keep it

Studies show that massage therapy for hand arthritis on a regular ongoing basis can be more effective. That doesn't mean more is better. It's not necessarily a good idea to massage for a long time or multiple times a week as your muscles and joints need time to recover and repair between sessions.

2. Drink more water after the massage

Any level of massage pressure will affect the flow of water in your body. Drinking lots of water right after the massage and staying well hydrated can help reduce soreness or inflammation that may have occurred from the massage and make your muscles and joints recover better.

3. Do some gentle daily exercise

Massage increases blood flow and loosens tissues, making movement easier and reducing stiffness. Exercise helps to further increase blood flow and build strength in the affected area. When done in conjunction, massage and gentle exercise can be more effective in treating arthritic pain than either massage alone.


Massage therapy can be a wonderful complement to other medical treatments for hand arthritis, it can reduce joint pain, increase grip strength and reduce the state of anxiety and depressed mood often associated with arthritis. Right and professional massage can be a powerful tool to help maximize benefits. Hope the tips mentioned above will be helpful to you.



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