Active Healing Centre

Massage Therapy for Arthritis

Rubbing it out

Over 20% of Canadian adults suffer from some form of arthritis, and the likelihood of suffering from arthritis only increases with age. Arthritis can cause significant pain, which can greatly impact an individual’s quality of life. It can mean that an individual will be unable to enjoy their favourite activities, and it may also mean that an individual is unable to independently live their lives.

Increasingly, physicians are recommending that people consider non-pharmacological options as part of their treatment plan for arthritis. Massage therapy is one effective option that can help people with arthritis reduce their pain and improve their function.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and can negatively affect both physical and emotional well-being. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time, and can lead to pain, decreased function and negative impacts on your mental health.  Massage therapy has been shown to decrease pain and stiffness and increase function in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Massage therapy can also help people with osteoarthritis of the knee more effectively perform their regular activities of daily living, which can help improve their quality of life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints and commonly leads to pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis can have a significant impact on regular daily activities and negatively impact someone psychologically as well as physically.  Massage therapy has been found to benefit people with rheumatoid arthritis in a number of ways, including by decreasing pain, improving grip strength, and increasing range of motion. Another beneficial part of the treatment plan is regular exercise, which can reduce pain and increase mobility as well as improve psychological well-being. Recommending exercise is part of a massage therapy scope of practice, and registered massage therapists (RMTs) can recommend an exercise program that would be right for you.

Massage Therapy Can Help

Both massage therapy and regular exercises, which can be recommended by a RMT,, have been shown to be effective in helping people with various types of arthritis reduce their pain and improve their function. Arthritis can have a significant negative impact on a person’s life and can prevent someone from participating in the workforce, completing their regular daily activities or enjoying the activities they love. Massage therapy is one of the treatment options that can help people with arthritis be more comfortable and participate more fully in all aspects of their lives.

Resource: Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario (RMTAO) blog