Can You Massage Arthritis?
The rule I heard from the old folks was do not massage arthritis. I didn’t know if it is a rule, or they mean only in some instances – my fault was, I did not ask. However, as a new enthusiast about how much massage can do when it comes to relieving pain, I did not give much weight on what I heard. My thinking was I have to try it and see for myself before I agree or disagree.
Now, that I experienced arthritis of my own, it is time to give my own testimony to answer the title of this topic.
The answer depends on when you are going to massage arthritis. Is it during the attack of inflammation, before an inflammation or after an inflammation?
Until few years ago, when I was groping for a clear-cut answer to this question, I tried to massage friends were complaining of arthritis pain. After about ten tries, I saw there was no improvement on their situation. When I asked how they felt the following day, they said it was fine just after the massage but after an hour or two, the pain came back with more intensity. I was puzzled, so, I became cautious and ultimately stopped applying massage during an attack. When someone asked me to help them of their arthritic pain, or I suspect arthritis, I told them I would do it afterwards when the inflammation subsided then advised them to take drugs for arthritis.
Year 2003 was the first time I felt the sting of arthritis. At first, it affected the side of my big toe; I thought the culprit was my shoes. Then the next time, I felt the pain on the first joint of the little toe, again, I thought maybe because my shoes were the problem. I bought new pair of shoes, until I got five pairs, but did not help to ease the pain; I tried the magic of my hands, but it, too, did not help.
Those arthritic pains taught me a lot. I found out that some particular kinds of food were causing the problem – not my shoes. In addition, it confirmed that massage is contra-indicated during arthritic flare-ups; massage has a limited healing-power.
Fast forward, no matter how much I tried to avoid foods I know trigger my arthritis, there is no way you can avoid them all – especially when one of the spices are the one causing the problem. Thus, lately, three times I got the worst attack of arthritis.
Unlike the first attacks where I could walk through the pains, the latest’s were not just so painful; but also showed me how depressing it feels to have a foot yet you cannot walk. It was during those flare-ups that made me understand what arthritis really means.
It also reconfirmed massage is a no-no during an attack. At the start of each attack, I still tried to give some rubdown to make the pain tolerable. While doing massage, the pain seems to subsides, however, at night I woke up writhing in pain and could not move my foot.
The second time, my wife offered to massage it, but even the lightest touch she gave did not help.
I woke up the same – feeling like I do not have a chance to walk again. Even the slightest touch make my face distorts in pain.
For that reason, to answer the question above, I strongly suggest, that during an attack, avoid using massage. Do it only after the flare-up to cleanout whatever “deposits” the problem left around the joint affected, and have it regularly with stretching exercise to strengthen the muscles and ligaments on the joint. From my experiences, I learned that the best way to avoid arthritis flare-ups is to avoid foods causing it. To know what foods to avoid, try to remember the foods you ate before the inflammation, list them all, and make a comparison of your lists on the next attack. I am afraid; you might end up crossing all the foods you are eating. Thus, I suggest, also take note of the spices, or appetizers added into the food. They might be the culprit and not the food itself.
What I did to stop my arthritis pain?
Since massage cannot help, and I do not know of any other fast drug-free remedy for arthritis, I used anti-inflammation I bought from the drugstore at first, and when it did not work, I looked for pills specially made for arthritis. When I found one that suits my system, I made sure I always have some ready to use inside my medicine chest.
I came from a poor family who does not use so much modern drugs, thus we always try to go natural. However, there are times when a sickness is very debilitating where your suffering is not worth the time to wait until the natural treatment takes effect, like in this case is arthritis. When the pain is too much to bear, and would put you to bed – not to rest, but to suffer the throbbing pain – then better take a drug that can give you the immediate result you need.
My homeopathic teacher a decade ago advised that it’s better to use drug to treat a problem immediately then, later, when you are strong enough, do something to flash out the toxins or whatever bad effect of the drug left to your system. From there, rebuild your immune system. Why suffer when you can do something to stop the cause of your suffering.