Massage for Osteoarthritis of Knee Reduced Pain and Improved Physical Functioning


Dr. Perlman Interview with:
Adam Perlman, MD, MPH

Program Director, Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare
Duke Integrative Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Current treatment options for knee osteoarthritis have limited effectiveness and potentially adverse side effects. Massage may offer a safe and effective complement to the management of knee osteoarthritis.

We investigated the effect of whole-body massage on knee osteoarthritis, compared to active control (light-touch), and usual care. Participants received 8 weeks of massage, light-touch or usual care and then were randomly assigned to maintenance every other week massage, light-touch or continuation of their usual care. At the end of 8 weeks, massage significantly improved symptoms, including pain, stiffness and physical function, while the other groups did not. At 52 weeks, every other week massage maintained the improvements, however the other groups also improved. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Massage for osteoarthritis of the knee is a safe and effective treatment that can lead to improvements in pain, stiffness and physical functioning. Although at the end of the year of maintenance, there was no significant difference between the massage, light-touch and usual care groups, massage clearly lead to more immediate improvement in the short run. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should focus on massage for arthritis in joints other than the knee as well as research to determine the most cost-effective approach to initial treatment and maintenance. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This study was made possible by grant number R01AT004623from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the National Institutes of Health.


Perlman, A., Fogerite, S.G., Glass, O. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2018).

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Last Updated on December 19, 2018 by