"It should be considered at least for musculoskeletal pain as a
viable option in the mix of pain management techniques in these
areas," said Dr. Wayne Jonas, president and CEO of the Samueli
Institute in Alexandria, Virginia.
"We couldnít say itís better than other kinds of therapies, but it
did look like it was better than doing nothing to a considerable
degree," he said.
The new review was funded by the Massage Therapy Foundation and
conducted by the Evidence for Massage Therapy Working Group, which
was led by the Samueli Institute.
The researchers write in Pain Medicine that pain is recognized as
the most compelling reason for an individual to seek medical
attention. Beyond affecting people physically, pain can also harm
them socially, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Massage manipulates soft tissue to alleviate pain, and some people
believe the relaxation tied to the therapy may help other aspects of
the person's health like psychology, they add.
For the new study, the researchers searched databases of medical
studies to find those testing massage for the treatment of pain.
They included 60 high-quality studies and seven low-quality studies.
All of the studies were published between 1999-2013 and tested
massage for muscle and bone pain, headaches, deep internal pain,
chronic pain like fibromyalgia and spinal cord pain.
Three of four studies involving a total of 245 people with muscle
and bone pain showed that compared to no therapy, massage had a very
large effect on pain, the researchers found.
The group was able to make a strong recommendation for massage
therapy, compared to no treatment.
Thirty-four studies, with 3,557 participants, compared massage
therapy to active treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy.
Massage therapy provided some benefits compared to other options and
was relatively safe. Although the quality of most studies was high
or acceptable, the group only issued a weak recommendation for
massage compared to other treatments.
Jonas said the evidence may change if a large high-quality study is
ever done looking at massage therapy compared to other treatments.
Based on some of the studies, the group also weakly endorsed massage
therapy for reducing anxiety and pain among pain patients.
[to top of second column]
Highlighting the current opiate addiction epidemic in the U.S., a
group of researchers wrote in an accompanying editorial that massage
therapy is a refreshing and low-risk option.
"Massage therapy will not remove the need for medications in pain
management and it will not be an appropriate therapy for every pain
patient, but it should be considered as a routine complementary (not
alternative) part of an individualized, multimodal, and stepped care
pain plan for pain management," wrote the researchers, who were led
by Dr. Chester Buckenmaier III of the Defense and Veterans Center
for Integrative Pain Management in Rockville, Maryland.
Jonas said the researchers couldn't find any studies that compared
massage to drug treatments like opiates.
He also said the group made a number of recommendations for future
research on massage therapy that could lead to guidelines for its
use in pain management. Those include standardizing treatments and
measurements, and conducting high-quality research.
"It is our hope that the field of massage therapy will begin to
critically think about and prioritize the fieldís research needs to
guide the development of a robust future research agenda," wrote the
authors of the editorial.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/27RCyrG and http://bit.ly/27RCw33 Pain
Medicine, online May 10, 2016.
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