Massage therapy has been found to benefit symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis in the upper limbs.

Forty-two adults with rheumatoid arthritis in the upper limbs were randomly assigned to a moderate-pressure or a light-pressure massage therapy group, according to an abstract published on

A therapist massaged the affected arm and shoulder once a week for a four-week period, and also taught the participant self-massage to be done once daily, according to the abstract.

Among the results:

• The moderate-pressure vs. the light-pressure massage therapy group had less pain and perceived greater grip strength following the first and last massage sessions.

• By the end of the one-month period, the moderate-pressure massage group had less pain, greater grip strength and greater range of motion in their wrists, elbows and shoulders.

Massage Envy, a nationwide franchise corporation, funded this research by donating $35,000 to Touch Research Institutes.

“Because [Massage Envy’s] national charity partnership is the Arthritis Foundation (AF), we feel that studies showing positive results for symptoms of the various forms of arthritis not only strengthen our partnership with AF, but also support the massage profession as a whole,” Massage Envy Franchising Vice President of Industry Relations and Product Development CG Funk told MASSAGE Magazine.

“One in 5 Americans today suffer from some form of arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis can be the most debilitating,” Funk added. “An exciting thing about this study is it is the very first massage research solely focused on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. “

“Rheumatoid arthritis in upper limbs benefits from moderate pressure massage therapy” was published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.