October 5, 2011

Arthritis needn’t be a pain

Posted in Between Us column, Business, Health, Women at 6:43 pm by dinaheng

Soft music plays as I lie on the massage table, eyes closed as Heidi, the massage therapist, works on muscles that need stretching. Pushing down on my shoulders, she says, “These are riding high. You’ve been working a lot lately.”

When you sit at a desk day in and day out, it’s easy to forget to get up and move frequently, so having an expert eye look at your posture and remind you to stop tensing up those muscles is invaluable.

This weekend, taking advantage of a massage was a no-brainer. When it comes to relaxation, there’s nothing like pampering yourself with a great massage. Not only is it a pleasure to have a trained masseuse work out the kinks in your body, massage is also good for your health.

As Heidi reminded me, “You’ve got to keep your body healthy if you do repetitive tasks. I work on everyone from doctors and lawyers to people who do a lot of physical work.”

Next week, Massage Envy clinics are partnering with the Arthritis Foundation to host “Healing Hands for Arthritis,” a one-day national event to build awareness and raise funds to fight arthritis.

On World Arthritis Day, October 12, Massage Envy will donate $10 from every one-hour massage and facial to the Arthritis Foundation, which advocates education and research to control and cure arthritis and related diseases. Prices range from $39 to $69 for facials and massages, depending on the location.

I always thought arthritis was just something you got as you age, but that’s not necessarily the case.

“Arthritis is inflammation in a joint, and the next question should be, what type of arthritis do you have?” explains Dr. Patience White, vice president for public health for the Arthritis Foundation and a pediatric and adult rheumatologist. “There are 100 different types of arthritis, and the treatment varies for each.”

White says the most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, which affects 27 million Americans; gout, which affects 8.1 million and rheumatoid arthritis, which hurts 1.3 million. An estimated 300,000 children have juvenile arthritis, and 300,000 adults have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Arthritis is caused by a mixture of genetics and environmental causes, or health behaviors. In other words, your genes may predispose you to getting arthritis, but there’s a lot you can do to prevent it.

“Osteoarthritis is the most common, and most of its causes are related to weight, physical activity and a past history of injury to a joint, along with your genes,” White says. “Arthritis is the number one cause of disability, and can happen at any age. It affects everybody, all races and ethnicities.”

She says controlling weight is important, for with every pound you gain, it’s akin to the equivalent of each knee having to carry four lbs. With two-thirds of Americans being overweight, the likelihood of feeling arthritic pain increases.

“If you don’t keep physically active, keeping the muscles strong, you’ll be predisposed to arthritis,” White says. “Regular exercise, just a half hour five times a week beyond work, and keeping your weight down will help with heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions, as well. If you lose 5 to 10 lbs., studies show you can cut the pain in your knees by 50 percent.”

White says getting a massage can offer great pain relief to those who suffer from arthritis.

“When you have arthritis, with inflammation in the joints, the pain causes your muscles to tense up and you may have decreased range of motion,” White says. “Massage is fantastic for the muscles. It can relax the muscles, helping people to feel better and move more.”

Studies have shown that massage therapy can decrease stress levels, as well as help to reduce recovery time for many medical conditions, including arthritis.

Massage Envy, a national franchise that provides therapeutic massage and spa services at more affordable prices than spa resorts, is a national sponsor of the Arthritis Foundation’s Arthritis Walk® events.

So if you’re in the mood to relax and get a little pampering, consider booking a one-hour massage at a Massage Envy near you on October 12. You’ll be contributing to a good cause, and helping yourself at the same time.

Just be warned… once you lie down on that massage table, you just may not want to get up.

To find a Massage Envy clinic near you, visit MassageEnvy.com.  For more information on arthritis, check out www.arthritis.org.



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