A new study shows that massage is better than none for pain relief. This treatment may be an acceptable option for people who are considering other options such as acupuncture and physical therapy.
“It should be considered at least for musculoskeletal pain as a viable option in a mixture of pain management techniques in these areas,” said Dr. Wayne Jonas, President and CEO of the Samueli Institute in Alexandria, Virginia, USA.
“We can’t say it’s better than other types of therapy, but it appears to be better than doing nothing to a large degree.”
The Massage Therapy Foundation was funded by the new review and conducted by a group headed by the Somali Institute.
In the Journal of Pain Medicine, researchers say pain is known to be the most compelling reason for a person to seek medical advice. In addition to the effect of pain on a person physically, it can also inflict social, psychological and spiritual harm.
Massage affects soft tissues to relieve pain, and some people believe that the relaxation associated with this treatment may aid other aspects of human health, such as mental state.
For the new study, researchers looked at a database of medical studies to identify studies testing massage as a treatment for pain.
All of these studies were published between 1999 and 2013 and tested massage for musculoskeletal pain, headaches, deep inner pain, and chronic pain such as fibromyalgia and spinal cord pain.
The researchers found that three of four studies involving 245 people in total suffered from muscle and bone pain, and showed that massage had a very significant effect on pain compared to no treatment.
And this group was able to make a strong recommendation for massage therapy compared to no treatment.
34 studies involving 3,557 people compared massage therapy with effective treatments such as acupuncture and physical therapy. Massage therapy offered some advantages over other options and was relatively safe. Although the quality of most of these studies was high or acceptable, the group made only a weak recommendation for massage therapy compared to other therapies.
The researchers said, “Massage therapy will not eliminate the need for pain control treatments, nor will it be an appropriate treatment for all pain patients, but it should be considered as an integral part (and not as an alternative) in an individual, multimodal and enhanced pain control plan.”