"With so many people living with chronic pain, it's important for consumers to know how research is confirming the impact they have seen massage therapy can have on their health," says AMTA President Christopher Deery in advance of the triannual International Massage Therapy Research Conference being held in Alexandria, Virginia later this week. "AMTA is committed to advancing research-informed massage therapy practice that is in the best interests of the health of our country."
Massage is now a valuable component of treatments for pain after breast cancer surgery and cancer-related fatigue, as well as for low back pain and arthritis pain. One study supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health showed substantial improvements in pain, mobility, and overall health among intervention participants after breast cancer surgery. Myofascial massage significantly reduced self-reported pain and mobility limitations. Myofascial massage also resulted in significant improvements in self-reported overall health.
Another study of cancer patients concluded that six weeks of weekly Swedish massage therapy produced a significant reduction in fatigue among breast cancer survivors who had received surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.
Other recent studies have focused on massage therapy for chronic low back pain and arthritis pain. The Kentucky Pain Research and Outcomes Study evaluated the impact of massage on pain, disability, and health-related quality of life for primary care patients with chronic low back pain. The study found clinical improvement after 12 weeks of massage therapy. A systematic review of seven research studies on massage therapy for patients with arthritis indicated that massage therapy is superior to non-active therapies in reducing pain and improving certain functional outcomes.