Massage Therapy 
for Children with Juvenile Arthritis

“Massage is a very ancient form of treatment, so ancient that one may consider

its history to be as old as that of mankind, and its beginning prehistoric.”

Emil A.G. Kleen, M.D.

Therapeutic massage is uniquely positioned to help people with pain. Pain is the final alarm that informs us that some degree of a threatening impairment takes place. There are signs prior to pain and impairment, which we can recognize as an unusually tight muscle tone, a change in our posture, and restrictions in our movements. Massage therapy will keep pain from developing, but only if we listen, feel and begin to understand what is going on in our body.

In a safe, calming and nurturing setting, the patient can tune inward and become more aware of the signals the body sends to indicate imbalance. In her own time the patient has the opportunity to ask the massage therapist questions. Many other licensed health care professionals are too busy to listen attentively to the patient’s health history. Instead of providing ample recommendations for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for pain and self-care, they resort to the use of drugs even for minor aches and pains of life. In the relaxation-oriented environment of a massage studio, two individuals come together in a healing partnership. The healing touch of the massage therapist and the patient’s conscious awareness are as important as the skill of the therapist: to stimulate the nerve signals beneath the skin’s surface and within the musculofascial and musculoskeletal tissues through the external applications of stroking (effleurage), percussion (tapotement), kneading (petrissage), friction, vibration, stretching, compression, or passive and active joint movements within the normal physiologic range of motion.

 

No child was meant to have to learn to live with pain.

 

How can Massage Therapy help my child?

Babies and children love the sense of touch. A nurturing touch is a crucial part of their health. Touch therapy promotes a healthy integration of the child’s physiological, neurological and psychological development and function. Massage Therapy is an evidence-based, safe and effective modality that relieves pain and discomfort, promotes relaxation, increases body awareness, enhances body image and self-esteem, improves circulation and digestion, boosts the immune function, improves the flow of subtle energy through the meridians of the body, soothes muscle tension, enhances muscle tone and joint mobility, improves respiratory function, strengthens the structure of the brain, and promotes the healthy development of the brain’s white matter portion in the first three years of life.

Recent studies of the effects of massage therapy on pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients found that after receiving regular moderate-pressure massage once a week for a 4-week period the patients felt better, had less pain, more strength and greater range of motion.

As you (the parent) observe the benefits of massage in your child, you can begin to use massage therapy to interact with her by giving a nurturing full body massage or simply massaging the hands and feet before bedtime for a restful sleep. This will also be a healthy bonding activity for you and your child.

 

"Massage goes farther than skin-deep, deeper even than muscles and bones-

A good, caring massage penetrates right to the depth of your being."

George Downing, The Book of Massage

 

In consultation and coordination with your child’s primary healthcare provider, I recommend integrating Massage Therapy between your child’s doctor visits and monitoring potential benefits of this whole person care approach.