Massage has been shown to reduce the pain related to hand arthritis and osteoarthritis of the knee. New research show the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in women rose between 1995 and 2007.

The new study was published by researchers from the Mayo Clinic. Results show that rheumatoid arthritis incidence in women increased by 2.5 percent per year from 1995 to 2007, while it decreased by 0.5 percent in men.

“This rise in rheumatoid arthritis follows a four-decade period of decline,” a press release noted, “and study authors speculate environmental factors such as cigarette smoking, vitamin D deficiency, and lower dose synthetic estrogens in oral contraceptives may be the source of the increase.

In an article titled, “Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Relief Without Drugs,” in the Arthritis Foundation’s official publication, Arthritis Today, the author states, “Massage. Done properly, the method can relax your muscles, help you let go of tension and provide some arthritis pain relief.”

According to the Arthritis Foundation, rheumatoid arthritis occurs “when the body’s immune system—which normally protects from us from infection—mistakenly attacks the synovium, the thin membrane that lines the joints. The result can be joint damage, pain, inflammation, loss of function and disability.” In osteoarthritis, “there is a breakdown in the cartilage covering the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint and allow movement,” the foundation’s website reads. “As the cartilage wears away, the bones become exposed and rub against each other.” Approximately 33 million Americans have osteoarthritis.

Some facts about rheumatoid arthritis include:

• Between 1 and 2 million Americans suffer the effects of rheumatoid arthritis

• Rheumatoid arthritis contributes to work-related disability, increased morbidity and shortened survival

• Up to one-half of all rheumatoid arthritis patients become unable to work within 10 to 20 years of followup, and those with the disease have a 60 percent to 70 percent higher mortality risk than those in the general population.

• Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis account for $9 billion in excess health care costs with direct and indirect costs expected to exceed $39 billion annually.

Related articles:
Massage Helps Knee Osteoarthritis

Massage Reduces Hand Arthritis Pain and Increases Grip Strength

Middle-Aged Americans Report More Mobility-Related Disabilities

Leg Length Linked to Arthritis

• Massage Therapists Can Use National Arthritis Month to Educate, Market

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