In short, massage therapy is useful when it comes to reducing osteoarthritic pain. Massage is an effective treatment method for those with osteoarthritis (Atkins, 2013). The massage technique called lymphatic drainage is incredibly beneficial for those with osteoarthritis. One of the significant reasons lymphatic drainage helps is by getting the circulation flowing. The types of massage that promote blood flow have a particularly important role when an osteoarthritic joint is swollen. Preventing joint effusion is one of the best “side-effect free” forms of pain relief. ————————————————————-- SWELLING IS THE ENEMY OF JOINT COMFORT Deformed joints that have been extensively damaged are not necessarily painful! But more times than not a damaged joint that has swollen up is painful. As swollen stagnant fluid that has built up contains all sorts of pain provoking substances. From chemical inflammatory mediators, that directly triggers peripheral nerves within the joint.
————————————————————- WHY A JOINT SWELLS UP Using a house as an analogy: 1 > Like any household a joint will naturally accumulate waste. Components of the house inevitably deteriorate and need replacing. As everything within a home, has a lifespan, unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. If not dealt with these dying substances start to smell. 2 > Inevitably foreign substances “dirty stuff” gets brought into the house from the outside. People and animals drag mud in from the street, we all have to defecate. At times unmentionable objects are brought into a house, which can make the house smell awful. A household that functions appropriately will take action when the house starts to smell bad. It will remove the waste products, close all the windows and spray toxic air fresheners to disguise the smell.
THE DANGERS OF JOINT SWELLING: Placing the focus back onto the joint, every cell within the Commonwealth of cells that make up a joint has a lifespan. If a joint’s (house’s) waste disposal systems, were not doing their role, then toxins will build-up. The effects of waste accumulating within are that function will be altered, and dysfunction/lesion will rule the roost. In our joints, the cleaners are immune cells called Macrophages, which infiltrate the joint. These immune-inflammatory (cleaning) cells, kill cells within the joint. Macrophages kill through a process called autophagy. “Autophagy is a physiological process involved in defence mechanism” (Mathieu, 2015). This stops dead stuff, creating a building ground for bacterial growth. So the body takes the garbage out and sprays, air-freshener. It is our inflammatory-immune system that does this. In the process of removing the waste, it “spray loads of air freshener”. This “air-freshener” drenches the joint making it swell up. Our inflammatory response does this by closing all the windows, and doors, to stopping the natural flow of air, creating a stagnant joint (room). Unfortunately, this 2nd phase of inflammation means that waste products stagnate within the joint. As all the windows and doors are closed, meaning that the waste products have nowhere to go. So the body responds to this stagnation by sending in more cleaning cells. That only end-up shutting all the windows and doors and spraying air-fresheners. So that waste products get trapped within a joint.
LESS FLUID FLOW —> DEAD CELLS BUILDING UP —> LESS LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE —> MORE TRAPPED DEAD CELLS
This is called a positive feedback loop, Which is something I see a lot in my clinic. A swollen arthritic joint, gradually swelling up even more, as swelling spirals out of control. Because the dead tissue is not getting flushed away.
--------------------------------------------- HOW BODY STOPS EVERYTHING FROM SWELLING
The body has its own drainage, waste removal, transportation network called the lymphatic system. Although this system is connected to the bloodstream, it is still a separate entity, to the arteries and veins that circulate blood. It is lymph which carries “rubbish away”, to places designed to handle and dispose of it properly, called lymph nodes. It does this through a multitude of lymphatic vessels. Scientists now recognise the importance of lymphatic flow. Even though pharmaceutical agents cannot make money from something, our body naturally produces. Ever since the founder of Osteopathy A.T. Still said over a century ago: “When blood and lymphatic flow freely, the tissues can perform their physiologic functions without impedance”. Wikipedia describes the functioning of the lymphatic system as: “Returns proteins and excess interstitial fluid to the bloodstream. Lymph may pick up bacteria and bring them to lymph nodes, where they are destroyed.” It is not just bacteria that it picks up and transports it is also dead tissue.
—————————————- LYMPH DRAINAGE DYSFUNCTION, LEADS TO OSTEOARTHRITIS DEVELOPING QUICKER.
When the flow of lymph is not blocked or restricted and stops areas of our body become stagnant. It “can cause harmful substance accumulation” (Gao, 2016). When lymph flow is blocked, the following substances can accumulate within a joint: 1- dead bits of cartilage 2- Toxins: “According to traditional Chinese medicine… If blood stasis is not eliminated, it results in the production of toxins over time.” (Zhang, 2015) 3- Inflammatory cells: “the peri-articular lymphatic system drains fluid and macromolecules from synovial space…. to maintain the homeostasis of joints. While under a pathological condition such as arthritis, it removes fluid containing catabolic factors and inflammatory cells from the synovial space and surrounding soft tissues to limit the progression of joint tissue damage.” (Qian-qian, 2015). 4- Synovial fluid It has been found that severely osteoarthritic joints, have “Abnormalities of synovial fluid drainage may confound the value of effusion as a clinical sign of synovitis in OA.” (Walsh, 2012). It is the build up these substances, due to the important physiological transport mechanism not working. Which explains why “The blockade…. lymphatic draining function accelerates….. the severity of joint tissue lesions in mouse models of RA and OA.”(Qian-qian, 2015). Strongly indicating: “The lymphatic system may play an important role in arthritis pathogenesis and treatment.” (Shi, 2013)
————————————————————————- HOW LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE CAN REDUCE ARTHRITIS PAIN Lymphatic drainage gives a helping hand to the bodies natural processes which clears out debris. This helps to reduce pain, by decreasing the risk of joint swelling developing. Lymphatic drainage works with the body to minimize painful swelling of a joint. It is not only useful at reducing arthritic pain (Atkins, 2013) but it a treatment process with few little detrimental side-effects. Click here to book a session with a massage therapist. - lymph massage for arthritis in knees - lymph massage for arthritis in the hands - lymph massage for arthritis in hip - lymph massage for arthritis in the neck. Joint Healthcare is different, as we do all we can to empower people to manage the condition themselves. So we are more than happy to teach you how to self-massage any chronically swollen, arthritic joints. Being able to self-massage your joints and muscles, is a safer alternative to painkillers.
=================================================== References: - Atkins, 2013, The Effects of Self-Massage on Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized, Controlled Trial - Shi, 2013, Use of a whole-slide imaging system to assess the presence and alteration of lymphatic vessels in joint sections of arthritic mice - Gao, 2016, Extracellular Vesicles and Autophagy in Osteoarthritis - Walsh, 2012, Lymphatic vessels in osteoarthritic human knees. - Qian-qian, 2015, Peri-articular Lymphatics and “Bi” Theory of Chinese Medicine in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Arthritis* - D'Avila, 2008, Lipid bodies in innate immune response to bacterial and parasite infections. - Lavallard, 2012, Autophagy, signaling and obesity. - Kim, 2014, Autophagy as a crosstalk mediator of metabolic organs in regulation of energy metabolism. - Mathieu, 2015, Interactions between Autophagy and Bacterial Toxins: Targets for Therapy? - Zhang, 2015, Traditional Chinese medicine for activating blood circulation and detoxifying in unstable angina pectoris: A systematic review and meta-analysis