50 may be the new 40 but not for arthritis sufferers
Osteoarthritis in the knees is extremely painful so the idea of somebody touching it let alone manipulating the joints, may bring tears to your eyes. But it shouldn't.
New research has shown that Thai massage and herbal compresses are as good as taking oral ibuprofen. Osteoarthritis of the knee affects 1 in five people over the age of 50 and the prevalence rises with age and it affects 1 in two people over the age of 80. Even so, younger people can also suffer from the problem.
Watch the weight on the knees
Being overweight increases the risk of developing the problem as it puts stress in the knee joints. Injuries to the knee joint from accidents or sports injuries can also trigger the problem. Some people are born with slight bone malformations that they may have inherited and these can carry an increased risk for osteoarthritis. Doing a job that puts stress on the knee joints can also contribute to the development of osteoarthritis. Women are more likely than men to suffer from the problem and people with diabetes, an underactive thyroid or gout have an increased risk of developing it.
New evidence on benefits of Thai massage
Thai massage is a combination of deep massage and manipulation of the limbs which also involves the therapist placing the patient's body in yoga positions.
Two studies carried out in Thailand and Japan have shown that Thai massage shows real benefits in elderly patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees.
The first study compared a Thai massage treatment or a Thai herbal compress treatment with a standard ibuprofen treatment over three weeks. The Thai massage group received one hour of treatment three times a week, the Thai herbal compress group received treatment three times a week and the ibuprofen group were given a standard ibuprofen tablet three times a day. Results showed that both the Thai massage and Thai herbal compress groups experienced pain relief equal to that of the ibuprofen group.
A second study compared the benefits of class or home based massage and exercise with conventional physical therapy in patients with osteoarthritis of the knees. The patients were given either Thai exercise with traditional massage or conventional physical therapy and Swedish massage.. The patiens had supervised classes and then were trained in home self care for 8 weeks. The study then carried on for a further year with patients managing their own care at home without supervision. Results were assessed using a six minute walk test with other quality of life tests specific for arthritis. Results showed that the Thai exercise group showed better results on the 6 minute walking test than the conventional therapy group but both groups improved greatly for quality of life, function and reduction of pain.
1.Chiranthanut et al. Thai massage and Thai herbal compress versus oral ibuprofen in symptomatic treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled trial. Biomed Res Int. Sep 2014.
2. Peungsuwan et al. The effectiveness of Thai Exercise with Traditional Massage on the Pain, Walking Ability and QOL of Older people with knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial in the Community. J Phys Ther Sci. Jan 2014.