Arthritis Feels Like …

Stiffness, aching joints, losing strength and movement: all hallmarks of “Ol’ Arthur” coming to visit. Over 50 million Americans live with arthritis. The most prevalent form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, occurs when the lining at the end of a bone thins. This leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, inflexibility, diminished strength, and decreased mobility.

Many people use therapeutic massage as a method of easing the chronic pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. Although massage cannot reverse or cure arthritis, it can help relax the muscles that tighten around the joints, which eases pain. Many people also use massage to maintain their flexibility. In some cases, people use therapeutic massage to help manage their symptoms when they plan to get joint replacement surgery, but have to postpone.

The team and Nimbus has experience working with clients who have osteoarthritis. Many of our member have arthritis has a primary or secondary reason for seeking massage. When working with people who have arthritis, we take a gentle yet targeted approach around the affected joints. We tailor our techniques to each person’s goals – maintain flexibility, pain relief, pre-hab for surgery – and work with each person to individualize a program that works for them.

Before Your Massage

Some things to discuss with your therapist about when you come in for massage as a treatment for osteoarthritis:

  • Your treatment goals.
  • Details of your condition including its onset, symptoms, and severity.
  • How your condition is progressing.
  • Your past history of massage.
  • Other conditions you may experience.
  • Any medications you take and their side effects.

Knowing these things will help your massage therapist plan your session or program.

During Your Massage

During your massage, your therapist may use a blend of techniques depending on your goals.

  • Pain Relief: Find knots and tight areas and apply pressure, add heat, add soothing techniques.
  • Relieving Tension: Apply slow gliding to taut areas, add heat, apply pressure to relax muscle fibers.
  • Maintaining flexibility: Gently move the joint, gentle stretching, find and relax tight muscles.
  • Pre-hab for surgery: Lighter massage to manage stress and anxiety, stimulate lymph flow, and to maintain the  muscles.

The massage therapist will work with you to find a pressure that feels comfortable to you. We typically recommend a moderate pressure that feels comfortable but therapeutic. If anything during the session causes you pain, let the therapist know so they can adjust what they are doing. Massage is not a “no pain, no gain” type of therapy.

After Your Massage

After your session you should feel better. Mild soreness the next day sometimes happens if you have not had much massage. However, let your therapist know if you experience this so they can ease the pressure the next time. Many people find using moist heat, such as an aromatherapy pillow or a long shower, helps enhance the effects of the massage.

Generally speaking, massage work best for people who have mild to moderate cases of osteoarthritis. Although an experienced practitioner can also help people with more advanced cases. If you have a severe joint instability, the treatment focuses more on soothing and pain relief and less on changing the muscle tissue. In severe cases, we recommend checking with your rheumatologist or primary-care provider to make sure they approve of massage for your condition.

If you experience pain, stiffness, inflexibility or other symptoms related to osteoarthritis, massage may be a wonderful addition to your toolbox of ways to ease and manage your condition.

To delve deeper into the topic check out the Arthritis Foundation website section on massage.


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Targeted Therapeutic Massage for TMJ (TMD) can help reduce jaw pain, stiffness, and more

Nimbus Massage now offers massage for TMJ (TMD). Our program is designed to relieve the pain and stiffness associated with Temporomandibular Disorders (commonly referred to as TMJ by laypersons and TMD by medical professionals). The protocol, designed by a Massage Therapist who also worked for nearly two decades as a dental hygienist, addresses the muscles in the head, neck, and shoulders that contribute to TMJ (TMD).

Try the program to:

  • Reduce pain in the head, jaw, neck, and shoulders.
  • Be able to chew or yawn more easily.
  • Restore full opening and closing of the jaw.
  • Eliminate some types of headaches related to TMJ (TMD).
  • Relieve tinnitus (ringing in the ears) related to TMJ (TMD).


This joint in the jaw – in front of the ear where the jaw hinges – may develop a number of problems including arthritis, degeneration, trauma, postural problems, or repetitive stress. Any of these, or other, root causes may lead to muscular pain and tension in the immediate or surrounding muscles. People who grind their teeth, clench their jaw, sit with their head forward, or who have an uneven bite often develop symptoms of TMJ (TMD).

In addition to muscular pain in and around the jaw, people also commonly experience headaches; grinding, clicking, or popping in the jaw; the inability to fully open the mouth; tinnitus; dizziness; or sometimes pain and tension in the neck and shoulders.

Many people report that massage complements their medically-guided protocol to relieve pain and restore proper movement to the jaws. In fact, a recent research review concluded that conservative treatment, including massage, is an optimal treatment option for TMJ (TMD).

Your therapist will methodically work though the muscles (including inside the cheek) commonly involved in TMJ (TMD). Then she or he will apply soothing heat to relax the jaw, relieve tension, and get you back to pain-free living. Typically, this protocol requires between three and six one hour sessions with follow up visits as needed.



The Rabbit Hole-

Medical Research on Massage for TMJ (TMD)

2015 Systematic Review– Abstract.  “In conclusion, there is widely varying evidence that MT improves pain, MMO and PPT in subjects with TMD signs and symptoms, depending on the technique. Further studies should consider using standardised evaluations and better study designs to strengthen clinical relevance. ”

2014 Randomized Controlled Trial– Abstract.  “Massage therapy and the use of an occlusal splint had no significant influence on electromyographic activity of the masseter or anterior temporal muscles. However, the combination of therapies led to a reduction in the intensity of signs and symptoms among individuals with severe TMD and sleep bruxism.”

2012 Review Article– Abstract with free full text available.  “Massage is an effective method in treating temporomandibular disorders. Due to the (sic) manual therapy significant improvement may be seen in the subjective and objective health status of the patient.”

2011 Case Study– Abstract with free full text available. “Results include an increase in maximal opening from 3.1 cm to 3.8 cm, an overall increase in neck range of motion, a decrease in muscle hypertonicity using the Wendy Nickel’s Scale, a decrease in pain from 7/10 to 3/10 on a numerical pain scale, and a decline in stress… more extensive studies are needed….”




Targeted = Focused on your specific problem areas.

Therapeutic = Having a therapeutic goal.

Massage = Working with your muscles. (What we do!)

Finding a way to succinctly describe what we do in a way that people will understand posed a unique challenge for us. What sets us apart? How do we describe what we do without using boring industry terms? How do we stay away from the misnomers of Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage? Targeted Therapeutic Massage seemed to fit the bill.

We use a through intake process to learn our client’s goals for the session, factors that contribute to their condition, and what has or hasn’t worked for them in the past. We then use this information to tailor our work each time someone comes in. In this way each session geared towards each client’s Therapeutic goals.

Our therapists all have years of experience that include actively learning new skills and staying up-to-date in the field. We know a number of different styles of massage and can blend them during each session in order to achieve the best results possible. If someone feels high levels of stress and anxiety then we use calming techniques to help relieve those feelings. If someone has chronic pain then we use pain-relieving techniques to help them manage their symptoms. If someone has a recent injury we use structural techniques to focus on helping them heal that area. We use our skills to Target each person’s problem areas.

We put all of this together to specialize in target sessions. In a Targeted Massage session, we focus solely on a particular problem area and its corresponding structures for an entire massage. Our clients get relief from stubborn problem areas, manage chronic pain, and improve function after trauma.


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