Turns out, undergoing a weekly, whole-body massage can help patients with arthritis (in their knees) experience significant improvement in pain and mobility.
Researchers at the Duke University suggested that massage can offer a safe and effective complement to the management of knee osteoarthritis, at least in the short term.
The finding of the study appeared in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
"Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of disability and affects more than 30 million people in America," said lead author Adam Perlman. "Medications are available, but many patients experience adverse side effects, raising the need for alternatives. This study demonstrates that massage has the potential to be one such option."
Scientists enrolled 200 patients with osteoarthritis in their knees. Patients were randomly divided into three groups: those who received a one-hour, weekly Swedish massage for eight weeks; those who received a light-touch control treatment; and those who received no extra care other than their usual regimen.
Patients were assessed after every two months using a standardised questionnaire. The questionnaire measured pain, stiffness and functional limitations, including how well patients can climb stairs, stand up from sitting or lying down, bend, walk or get out of a car, among other activities.
Massage significantly improved patients' scores on the questionnaire compared to light-touch and usual care.
At 52 weeks, the twice-monthly massages maintained the improvements observed at eight weeks but did not provide an additional benefit. There were no significant differences between the groups at 52 weeks.