Joint Effort – Summer 2023

Does Reflexology & Massage Help With Arthritis?
Pink bird on flower covered branch

Arthritis, or joint inflammation, is a symptom as well as a disease because it affects daily lifeactivities so significantly. There are a number of conditions in which arthritis occurs, from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis, affecting millions or people worldwide. Osteoarthritis is a mainly degenerative condition of the joints, typically the weight-bearing or overused joints such as the knee or shoulder. Other inflammatory conditions are often accompanied by arthritis such as rheumatoid, psoriatic, juvenile, and reactive arthritis, as well as ankylosing spondylitis.

The management of arthritis depends on the underlying cause as well as the health of the patient. Medications are often prescribed, such as anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used but have significant cardiovascular risks over the long term. Other medications include disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs such as methotrexate, or sulfasalazine, which are generally meant to suppress the hyperactive immune reaction that triggers arthritis in many autoimmune conditions. Biologics are a third avenue of treatment, again targeting the immune system at a particular step rather than wholesale.

The significant side-effects associated with the use of many of these drugs have led to a never ending search for less harsh treatments. Many of these are classified as ‘alternative’ or complementary’ therapies, and their benefits, as well as risks, are mostly unproven by rigorous, scientifically-designed trials. However, many of them are vouched for by patients who have found relief through their use. Two of them are reflexology and massage.

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Louise Bergeron, Arthritis Advocacy

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