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Swedish massage benefits osteoarthritis patients

New Haven, Conn. -- Massage therapy is a safe and effective way to reduce pain and improve function in adults with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center and at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) report in the first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of this treatment.

The 16-week study conducted to identify the potential benefits of Swedish massage on osteoarthritis patients with pain, stiffness and limited range of motion was published in the December 11 Archives of Internal Medicine. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that affects 21 million Americans and causes more physical limitation than lung disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The 68 study participants, who were at least age 35 with x-rays confirming their diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the knee, were randomly assigned either to an intervention group that received massage therapy immediately, or to a wait-list control group that received massage after an initial eight-week delay. Both groups were encouraged to continue previously prescribed medications and treatments.

Participants in the massage intervention group received a standard one-hour Swedish massage twice a week for four weeks, followed by Swedish massage once a week for the next four weeks at the Siegler Center for Integrative Medicine at the Saint Barnabus Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, New Jersey. After the first eight weeks of massage therapy, participants had improved flexibility, less pain and improved range of motion.

The primary study outcomes were changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index pain and functional scores, as well as changes in the Visual Analog Scale assessment of pain. Measures of pain, stiffness, and functional ability were all significantly improved by the intervention as compared to t
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Contact: Karen N. Peart
karen.peart@yale.edu
203-432-1326
Yale University
11-Dec-2006


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