woman getting a shoulder massage on a massage table

Could Massage Therapy Help Relieve Psoriatic Arthritis Pain? A Q&A with Dr. Ogdie

By Beth W. Orenstein
Reviewed by Ethan T. Craig, M.D.
November 17, 2023

This article is part of a Q&A series in which a healthcare professional in our community answers your frequently asked questions.

We asked: “I have psoriatic arthritis pain. Can massage therapy help provide some relief?”

Alexis Ogdie, M.D.: It might. Massage is one of several complementary therapies that people often use to help treat or manage different types of pain. Complementary therapies are not intended to replace medications or other treatments that you and your doctor decide are best for you and your psoriatic arthritis—but you may find that massage can help relieve your pain or discomfort.

There is not a lot of scientific research or data to support the use of massage for psoriatic arthritis. However, it doesn’t appear to be harmful, and anecdotally, many people have found massage therapy to be helpful in relieving their psoriatic arthritis pain.

Why Get a Massage for Psoriatic Arthritis?

Massage is helpful in that it can make you feel better while you’re getting your massage. Massage helps to work away pain by reducing muscle tension and improving circulation, which, in turn, is thought to help reduce local inflammation. Massage can also provide stress relief, which may be helpful because when you’re tense, your pain can be heightened.

Unfortunately, massage is not likely to have a long-lasting effect. The benefits tend to be very short-lived. Still, you may find even short-lived relief to be helpful and worth your time and money (unfortunately, massage therapy is not often covered by health insurance).

Who Would Benefit from Massage?

How helpful you find massage therapy may depend on where your pain is. If you have back pain, for example, massage may provide some short-term relief. Chiropractors’ offices may have massage therapists who can help with back pain.

What Are the Types of Massage?

There are also different styles of massage: hot stone, deep tissue, shiatsu, aromatherapy, and others. No one type is recommended more than another for arthritis. Choose whichever you’re most comfortable with and that you find provides you with the most relief.

What Else Should I Remember?

Before you add massage to your psoriatic arthritis management plan, be sure to clear it with your doctor. Also, make sure your massage therapist is licensed and has a good understanding of psoriatic arthritis or arthritis in general. Your therapist may have to make some adjustments to your massage for your arthritis symptoms.

If you have psoriasis as well, know that massage will not harm your skin.

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