Arthritis is more than skin deep—in fact, the inflammation and degeneration it causes can change the bones themselves.

But despite this, there are manual (or hands-on) therapies that can help manage arthritis symptoms: massage and chiropractic treatment.

Gentle, low-velocity chiropractic methods are the safest for those with arthritis. Read more: Manual Therapies for Arthritis Pain

These two therapies can be part of an integrative approach to arthritis treatment, which combines traditional medical treatments with complementary and alternative options.


Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic treatment, also known as manual manipulation, is provided by licensed chiropractors. Manual manipulation is also commonly done by doctors of osteopathic medicine. They use their hands to adjust and manipulate the spine to correct biomechanics and restore correct positioning.

There are two common manipulation techniques used by chiropractors:

  • High-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) thrusts, which include the quick movements and the “cracks” that many of us associate with a chiropractic adjustment
  • Gentle, low-velocity techniques, which use slow movements to mobilize joints and don’t involve audible cracks

Because people with arthritis have damaged and/or inflamed joints, HVLA manipulations can be hazardous for them—particularly for those with inflammatory types of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. If you have arthritis, seek out chiropractors with experience treating arthritic conditions using the gentler, low-velocity techniques.

Also, keep in mind that even if you don’t have arthritis in your spine, adjustments to the spine’s alignment may help other joints. For example, correcting the alignment of your hips could help take pressure off an arthritic knee.

Massage Therapy

Massage can be more than just an indulgence best saved for vacation or a spa day. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, massage therapy can relieve pain, promote relaxation, and boost mood, at least in the short term.

A few studies have shown that massage offers short-term health benefits specifically for those with arthritis too. Massage loosens and eases muscles and other soft tissues, which can be tight because of nearby arthritis. For example, an arthritic knee may cause you to walk with a limp, which could affect muscles in the leg as your gait is altered.

If you’re considering trying manual therapy to help you manage arthritis, look for a licensed massage therapist, chiropractor, or doctor of osteopathic medicine who has experience treating patients with your condition.

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