Massage therapy plus topical analgesic is more effective than massage alone for hand arthritis pain

Tiffany Field, Miguel Diego, Lynda Solien-Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Methods: 20 adults were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a massage therapy plus a topical analgesic application group. Both groups received a weekly massage from a therapist and were taught self-massage (same procedure) to be done by each participant once daily over a four-week period. Results: The massage plus topical analgesic group as compared to the massage group had greater improvement in hand function as measured by a digital hand exerciser following the first session and across the four-week period. That group also had a greater increase in perceived grip strength and a greater decrease in hand pain, depressed mood and sleep disturbances over the four-week period.Massage therapy has been effective for several pain syndromes including migraine headaches (Lawle and Cameron, 2006)), lower back pain (Hsieh etal., 2004), fibromyalgia (Kalichman, 2010), neck and shoulder pain (Kong etal., 2013), carpal tunnel syndrome (Elliott and Burkett, 2013), and pain related to upper limb arthritis (Field etal., 2013). The purpose of the current study was to determine whether applying a topical analgesic following massage might be more effective than massage alone in treating pain associated with hand arthritis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-325
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Hand arthritis pain
  • Massage therapy
  • Topical analgesic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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