The word psoriasis stems from the Greek root psora, which means “the itch.” The most common form, called plaque psoriasis, manifests as raised, red lesions covered with a buildup of dead skin cells, called scales. When performed by a professional who understands the disease, massage therapy can alleviate the symptoms of plaque psoriasis
Understanding Plaque Psoriasis
Your superficial skin cells usually replace themselves every 28 to 32 days. Plaque psoriasis triggers skin cell replacement every four to six days. This accelerated process causes the development of scales.
Psoriasis often victimizes people with other autoimmune disorders, and has a similar cycle of flare-ups and remission.
About 10 percent to 30 percent of people with psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis, which induces pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. This type of arthritis causes pain in the hands, feet, wrists, ankles, knees and lower back. To add insult to injury, the skin and joint problems often appear and disappear at the same time.
The Five Types of Psoriatic Arthritis
- Asymmetric – This is the mild form of psoriatic arthritis affects fewer than five joints, and centers around the hip, knee, ankle or wrist.
- Symmetric – This more severe form is common in women, and affects five or more joints on both sides of the body.
- Fingers and Toes – Distal interphalangeal joint predominant psoriatic arthritis is less common, and occurs mostly in men. It targets the small, distal joints in the fingers and toes and often causes nail discoloration.
- Spine – Called spondylitis, this type of psoriatic arthritis triggers spinal, lumbar, cervical and sacroiliac inflammation.
- Destructive – A small population of psoriatic arthritis sufferers have a severe, painful and disabling form called arthritis mutilans. Eventually, arthritis mutilans destroys the small bones of the hands, and leads to permanent deformity and disability.
Massage: Is it Safe?
The results of a 2012 study of male bicyclists, published in Science Translational Medicine indicate that massage helps reduce inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria, which are the energy factories of the cells. Some massage experts say that Swedish massage is the most appropriate massage form for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Swedish massage uses long strokes and kneading, which can increase circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system, a major part of the immune system. Massage therapy can also alleviate the symptoms of stress, which are often the main culprits in the flare-up cycle.
Before You Go
Communication is key. Tell your massage therapist about your condition, and let him or her know if any massage strokes increase pain. If you are allergic to any types of massage oils, feel free to bring your own. As always, consult your doctor to determine whether massage is a viable option for your condition.
Call Happy Physio on (08) 9272 7359 today to seek the help of our expert physiotherapists!