Massage Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis in ChildrenMassage Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Children.

Can massage therapy help children with rheumatoid arthritis? A study conducted by the University of Miami’s School of Medicine, Miami’s Children Hospital, and Duke University’s Medical School identified that:

“…children with mild to moderate juvenile rheumatoid arthritis who were massaged by their parents 15 minutes a day for 30 days […] saw important improvements to their condition. The massage immediately decreased the children’s anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels. Additionally, over the 30 days, their pain decreased on self-reports, parent reports, and their physician’s assessment of pain (both the incidence and severity) and pain-limiting activities.” According to the same study, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is the most common disease in children and one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood (Field et al.).

Disease Manifestation, Signs and Symptoms and Treatments

The disease manifests itself in children, generally before the age of 16 years old, with peak onsets in age groups of 1-3 years old and 8-12 years old. The most common symptoms are joint stiffness during long periods of inactivity or nocturnal pain. Treatments traditionally consist of medication, exercise and specific devices such as hand splinters. Medical practitioners treat more severe cases with pharmacotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, orthopedic surgery, and psychosocial services (Field et al.).

The Visible Benefits of Massage Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Children

According to the same study, the immediate effects of massage therapy were the reduction of anxiety, for both children and parents, which was determined through behavioural observation and decreased levels of salivary cortisol, immediately after massage therapy was administered. The benefits were even more pronounced after a 30-day treatment plan. The study suggests that decreases in anxiety and cortisol levels were identified not only in children who have rheumatoid arthritis but also in those with diabetes and asthma issues. The long-term effects pertain to the elevation of pain. Parents have observed improved sleep patterns in the children who participated in the study. Thus, based on a relatively new theory, massage therapy increases restorative sleep in children with rheumatoid arthritis and, in return, decreases the secretion of substance P (a pain transmitter) (Field et al.).

Ask for information about Massage Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Children

If you like to learn more about rheumatoid arthritis in both adults and your children, ask your massage therapists at Davie Village Registered Massage Therapy. Find out how RMT treatments can help improve your child’s condition by lowering anxiety, decreasing stress and reducing pain.


Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Seligman, S., Krasnegor, J., Sunshine, W., Rivas-Chacon, R., . . . Kuhn, C. (1997). Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: Benefits from massage therapy. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 22(5), 607.