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New Study Indicates Massage Reduces Hand Arthritis Pain

Posted: October 20, 2006

Massage therapy is effective in reducing hand pain and increasing grip strength, according to a new study funded by Biotone and conducted by the Touch Research Institutes (TRI) at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Fla.

Arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease, frequently located in the small joints of the hands. It affects the active, working-age population as well as the elderly, causing pain, activity limitations, and a lower quality of life. Many daily activities, for example, require considerable hand strength, such as opening doors, opening jar lids, lifting and carrying items. Hand strength in patients with arthritis is 75 percent lower than in healthy patients.

“While massage therapy has decreased pain in several pain syndromes, including fibromyalgia, lower back pain and migraine, this is the first report of pain reduction in hand arthritis following massage therapy,” said Dr. Tiffany Field, TRI director. “Up to now, many other interventions to alleviate hand pain have been tried -- medications, physical therapy and various forms of exercise. The results of this study are very encouraging for the application of massage therapy as a complementary alternative treatment for hand arthritis.”

Under the study, 22 adults ranging in age from 20 to 65 with wrist/hand arthritis were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a standard treatment control group. The massage therapy group received massage on the affected wrist/hand once a week for a four-week period and also conducted self-massage on the wrist/hand at home daily. Biotone Polar Lotion was used in the massage therapy. The standard treatment control group did not receive massage therapy during the study.