Background: People with arthritic disease are advised to participate in gentle exercise on a regular basis, and pursue long-term medication regimes. Alternative therapies are also used by people with arthritis, and may sometimes be recommended by rheumatologists and other medical personnel. Alternative therapies may be divided into two types: active therapies, in which the patient takes a driving role, and passive therapies, in which the therapy cannot proceed unless driven by a therapist.
Objective: To review the effectiveness of manual therapy in improving the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of people with two common arthritis conditions: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Discussion: Massage, and other passive (practitioner-driven) manual therapies, have been anecdotally reported to improve health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in people with arthritis. Many manual therapists consult with patients who have arthritic diseases, receive referrals from rheumatologists, and consider the arthritic diseases to be within their field of practise. Although there is empirical evidence that manual therapy with some types of arthritis is beneficial, the level of effectiveness however is under-researched. Medical authorities are reluctant to endorse manual therapies for arthritis due to a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating efficacy, safety, and cost effectiveness.