Massage therapy and alternative medicine for Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

This occurs more often in women than in men. It tends to affect the connective tissues, in particular, the areas around and within smaller peripheral joints, such as the hands and feet. Because connective tissue keeps many structures connected to each other, rheumatoid arthritis can be widespread throughout the body.
It is characterised by pain, severe inflammation around the affected joint or joints, and hardening of synovial membranes. When advanced, there is progressive fusing of joints or partial dislocations, and the joint becomes swollen and very restricted in movement. This can result in severe muscle-wasting, and visible deformity. The person feels feverish, fatigued, weak and generally unwell and depressed.
The exact cause is still unknown, but indications point to the influence of infection or toxaemia a build up of toxins, which create inflammation and degeneration and trigger self-destructive immune responses. Antibodies reach the site of inflammation to combat the infection only to worsen the condition. If it involves just one joint, it is possible to contain or slow down the progression of the illness.

During acute painful stages it is advisable not to massage the affected areas, otherwise during the time when the joints are less inflamed massage should be very gentle and the practitioner should be especially aware not to aggravate the condition.

Choose essential oils that cool and relief inflammation such as lavander, marjoram, chamomile, and vetivert


This common wear-and-tear complaint mainly affects larger joints in older people. Weight-bearing structures, such as the hip, weaken, resulting in degenerative changes and over-stress that damage the joint surfaces and produce pain and disability. Causes can be poor posture, obesity, and injuries, such as a heavy fall and fractures.
The disease starts in the cartilage, which begins to thin out and no longer protects the bones forming the joint. The pain is worse when standing and moving, and the resulting symptoms, such as inflammation, swelling and heat, severely limit movement and can cause surrounding muscles to waste due to inactivity.
Massage and bodywork brings some relief by helping to ease the pain of muscles that surround the joints by improving circulation to the area and possibly reducing friction between bone surfaces.

Use circulatory and anti-inflammatory oils such as: lavander, chamomile, vetivert and cypress.

In both cases of arthritis you can also soothe the acupressure points around that area ie Colon 11 and Lung 5 for elbows, Colon 4 for the hands, Liver 3 and Kidney 6 for the feet, Stomach 36 and Spleen 9 for the knee. See acupressure section to learn the location of these points.