A growing body of research shows massage therapy can be an effective part of pain relief and management. This research data, and the experience of physicians, massage therapists, and patients, should encourage pain specialists to consider incorporating massage therapy into their pain management programs.
Some findings about the value of massage therapy for pain relief include:
- Massage is effective for providing long-lasting relief for patients suffering from chronic low back pain.
- Therapeutic massage promotes relaxation and alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients.
- Massage was better than cold pack treatment of post-traumatic headaches.
- Muscle-specific massage therapy is effective for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headaches.
- Massage reduces pain and muscle spasms in patients who have multiple incisions.
In their Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals: The Official Handbook, updated in August 2000, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations suggests massage as a non-pharmacological therapy that can be used successfully in pain management. Some hospitals are including massage therapists in patient care teams to fight pain. Their teams may include a physician, several nurses, a nutritionist, a yoga instructor, a chaplain, and a massage therapist. Often, the hospitals are including massage because of public demand.
The effectiveness of massage lies in a simple and direct strategy: working from the external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause. Massage therapists utilize a holistic approach, focusing on the entire body system and its relationship to soft tissue. Their care isn’t focused only on the site of pain.
Another benefit of massage therapy from a patient perspective is how it helps patients become more aware of their bodies and better familiarize them with the pain they experience. The massage therapist not only helps relieve muscle and other soft tissue pain, but also has an impact on the patient by virtue of human touch. This is especially pronounced for women facing mastectomies and dealing with the outcomes of that surgery. Massage helps them feel comfortable once again with their bodies. This comfort level improves their confidence and allows them to better deal with pain, while benefiting from various other forms of massage that focus on lymph drainage and muscle pain, as well as other pain management therapies.
Although more research is needed to confirm the best uses of massage, the potential for a positive impact on patients with acute or chronic pain is clear. As it stands, enough research exists to encourage pain management specialists and massage therapists to forge professional relationships. These pain management relationships should exist in the hospital, in clinics, in private practice offices, and in home care.
If you’re interested in becoming a massage therapist or enjoying the benefits of massage contact us at (888) 230-3897.