By definition osteoarthritis is a chronic degeneration of the articular cartilage and subchondral part of bone in joints. Healthy cartilage is resilient and able to yield under compression and recover when the weight has been removed. This is partially due to the fact that cartilage is 80% water! Osteoarthritis can be as a result of years of biomechanical stress or have no known cause. It is one of the oldest known conditions, and as a result massage has been it’s primary treatment for eons, with mention of massage as treatment in by Hippocrates in 400 BC and Chinese writings as far back as 3000 BC .

In the early stages the ends of the bone where the cartilage resides start to break down. Initially the response is for the joint to swell as the body attempts to heal itself. However because cartilage has little or no blood supply this inflammatory response is ineffective. This stage may last for years.

Over time the number cells that cause the inflammatory response lessen and the cartilage thins and softens, forming ridges and portions of the cartilage start to break off into the joint space. Eventually the more sensitive subchondral bone becomes exposed. Later as the subchondral bone remodels and thickens, and the exposed surface becomes polished from the constant bone on bone contact. Small fractures and cysts appear and weaken the bone structure. In an attempt to support the joint, new bone and cartilage grow at the ends of the joint called bone spurs or osteophytes altering the shape of the joint and restricting movement, as well as compressing nerve roots, such as in the spine. Muscles in both stages may tighten and go into spasm.

Massage can complement to a complete osteoarthritis pain management program(exercise, proper nutrition , drug therapies, stress management, hydrotherapy) -after correct medical diagnosis by your doctor or rheumatologist- for all stages by addressing the symptoms- loosening tight muscles, increasing local blood flow, and increasing range of motion-how far you can move! It can also help with the stress of the condition- by enhancing your sense of well being, so you can get on with your day, be it work or play!

To book a visit with Jennifer to see how she can help you with your osteoarthritis pain contact Ultimate Sports Therapy today!

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Jennifer J. Lamore, BAA, RMT
Registered Massage Therapist Toronto & Mississauga, Ontario