The Effects of Self-Massage on Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized, Controlled Trial

  • Dorothea V. Atkins, ThD, RN Holos University Graduate Seminary
  • David A. Eichler, PhD Holos University Graduate Seminary
Keywords: massage, self-massage, osteoarthritis, self-management, knee osteoarthritis, musculoskeletal, chronic pain


Introduction: Recent research has provided a rationale for the efficacy and use of massage therapy in the management of knee osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms. Additionally, research has also implicated the role of the quadriceps muscles in the genesis of knee OA. Although both areas of research have demonstrated strong evidence that the muscles and massage therapy may affect knee OA symptoms, self-massage applied on the quadriceps muscle has received no attention. Methods: Conducted at the Lourdes Wellness Center in Collingswood, NJ, the study investigated the outcomes of a self-massage intervention applied to the quadriceps muscle on reported pain, stiffness, physical function, and knee range of motion in adults with diagnosed knee OA. Forty adults with diagnosed knee OA were randomly assigned to either an intervention (n = 21) or a wait list control (n = 19) group. The participants applied a narrated 20-minute self-massage therapy twice weekly during ten supervised and three unsupervised intervention sessions. The control group had four supervised assessments with no intervention. Outcome measures were the Western Ontario and McMaster’s Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and assessment of knee range of motion. Results: Between-groups analyses of WOMAC pain, stiffness, function subscales, and total WOMAC scores indicated significant difference between groups (p < .05), n = 36). No significant differences were seen in range of motion. Conclusions: The study demonstrated that participants who have OA of the knee benefit from the self-massage intervention therapy. Further studies are needed to clarify the long-term effects of self-massage on the progression and symptoms of knee OA.

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How to Cite
Atkins, ThD, RN, D. V., & Eichler, PhD, D. A. (2012). The Effects of Self-Massage on Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized, Controlled Trial. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage &amp; Bodywork Research Education &Amp; Practice, 6(1), 4–14.