Massage Therapy Plus Topical Analgesic is More Effective than Massage Alone for Hand Arthritis Pain $0.00

Massage Therapy Plus Topical Analgesic is More Effective than Massage Alone for Hand Arthritis Pain

By: By: Phil Page, PhD, PT, ATC, CSCS, FACSM, LAT | Apr 9, 2019
Massage Therapy Plus Topical Analgesic is More Effective than Massage Alone for Hand Arthritis Pain

Summary

Massage therapy has shown promise in the relief of pain associated with osteoarthritis. Although the underlying mechanisms are unclear, moderate pressure massage has been associated with changes in pain modulating systems. Biofreeze topical analgesic has been shown effective at reducing knee osteoarthritis pain and improving functional tasks (Topp et al. 2013).

Researchers at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School wanted to see if a moderate pressure massage protocol plus Biofreeze was more effective at than massage alone in clients with hand arthritis. Their study was published ahead of print in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

In their study, 20 females with hand arthritis were randomly assigned to either a hand massage-only group, or a group that received the same hand massage and applied Biofreeze topical analgesic gel to their hand afterward. Both groups received 15-minute moderate pressure massages once per week for 4 weeks (See protocol below.) They were also taught the same massage to be done by themselves daily at home. The Biofreeze group had the topical analgesic gel applied at the end of the massage session, and were given sample packets of the gel to apply at the end of their self-massage sessions.

Both groups were assessed for their pain, grip strength, mood, and sleep disturbances before and after the 4-week intervention. Both groups significantly improved in their outcome measures. When the two groups were compared on the first and last day of treatment, the group receiving the Biofreeze treatment improved significantly more than the group receiving massage alone.

It’s important to note that this study did not include a control group, thus limiting conclusions on cause-and-effect. Nonetheless, the authors concluded, “The current study suggests that the combination of moderate pressure massage administered by the therapist and by the participants and the application of topical analgesic following the massage may be the more effective therapy for increasing grip strength and reducing pain and the associated depressed mood and sleep disturbances in individuals with hand arthritis.”

REFERENCE: Field T, et al. 2014. Massage therapy plus topical analgesic is more effective than massage alone for hand arthritis pain. Article in press. J Bodywork Movement Therapies.

Disclosure: Performance Health supported this study

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