El Paso Functional Medicine
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Finding Osteoarthritis Relief Through Massage


For individuals managing osteoarthritis, could massage therapy provide added treatment benefits?

Finding Osteoarthritis Relief Through Massage

Osteoarthritis Massage Therapy

Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage between the joints wears away, causing stiffness and pain. Massage therapy is a treatment used to relieve various types of pain symptoms.

  • There are many types of massage therapy, that healthcare providers utilize to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues to relieve symptoms, relax muscles, increase circulation, reduce inflammation, release trigger points, and restore mobility, flexibility, and function. (Ergonomic Trends. 2023)
  • Professional therapists can help relieve osteoarthritis joint pain by relaxing the surrounding muscles and other soft tissues to release stiffness. (Adam Perlman, et al., 2019)

Massage Objectives and Types

Massage therapists use their hands and fingers, forearms, elbows, and/or instruments to manipulate the body’s soft tissues. Soft tissues support and surround body structures and include muscle, fat, tendons, and ligaments.

  • The goal of osteoarthritis massage therapy is to relax muscles and soft tissues, increase blood and oxygen circulation, warm the affected area/s, relieve pain, and restore mobility and function.
  • Depending on the location of the muscles being massaged, individuals may be seated or lie down on a specialized table.
  • The amount of pressure and direction of movement depend on the body area.
  • Therapeutic oils and/or massage creams may be used to increase the therapy.

Types include:


  • The therapist uses long strokes, kneading, and friction on the muscles.
  • Joints are moved to increase flexibility.

Deep Tissue

  • The therapist uses deep finger or instrument pressure, focusing on muscles that are tight or knotted.

Trigger Point

  • Trigger points represent a source of radiating pain symptoms.
  • The therapist focuses pressure on these myofascial tissue points using various strokes to release them.


  • The therapist applies rhythmic pressure with their thumbs, fingers, and palms to redirect and increase energy or chi/qi.

A massage session lasts around 30–60 minutes depending on the severity of the condition and the number of sessions the patient has undergone. Chronic pain patients usually go through a series of specialized sessions that focus on specific areas and gradually build.

Risk Factors

Certain precautions must be taken before getting osteoarthritis massage therapy. Although there are a few serious risks, certain individuals are not suitable candidates and should not receive massage therapy. The conditions include: (Medical Massage Therapy Resource & Reference. 2023)

  • Damaged nerves.
  • Damaged blood vessels.
  • Infection and inflammation in the area to be massaged.
  • Open wounds.
  • Fever.
  • Taking a blood thinner.
  • Deep vein thrombosis – blood clots.
  • Bleeding disorders.
  • Osteoporosis – weak and brittle bones.
  • Recent fractures – broken bones.
  • Tumors.
  • Cancer.
  • Individuals who have recently undergone surgery.
  • Individuals with a skin condition that is contagious, like warts or herpes, or noncontagious, like psoriasis, could be aggravated by touch or pressure.
  • Individuals who have cancer, fragile skin, heart problems, or dermatomyositis are recommended to discuss osteoarthritis massage therapy with their healthcare provider.

Research on the effects of massage therapy on various health conditions is ongoing. Massage therapy promotes relaxation while reducing stress, which can help with chronic joint issues like osteoarthritis.

Arthritis Explained


Ergonomic Trends. 20 most common types of massages and their benefits explained.

Perlman, A., Fogerite, S. G., Glass, O., Bechard, E., Ali, A., Njike, V. Y., Pieper, C., Dmitrieva, N. O., Luciano, A., Rosenberger, L., Keever, T., Milak, C., Finkelstein, E. A., Mahon, G., Campanile, G., Cotter, A., & Katz, D. L. (2019). Efficacy and Safety of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of general internal medicine, 34(3), 379–386. doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4763-5

Medical Massage Therapy Resource & Reference. When not to get a massage: 26 reasons you cannot get a massage.

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Finding Osteoarthritis Relief Through Massage" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.


Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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