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     The following article was published in the January/February 2003 issue of Practical Pain Management magazine. The article was written by Brenda Griffith, President, American Massage Therapy Association.

      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 base findings about the value of massage therapy for pain relief have included the following:

     According to Cherkin, Eisenberg, et. al. in the April 2001 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, massage is effective for providing long-lasting patients suffering from chronic low back pain.

     Data collected nearly 10 years ago indicates that therapeutic massage promotes relaxation and alleviates the perception of pain and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients.  Recent studies have confirmed the findings and others indicate positive effects for massage in decreasing pain intensity among cancer patients.

     In 1990, Jensen et. al. published data indicating that massage was better than cold pack treatment of post-traumatic headaches.  The October 2002 issue of the American Journal of Public Health reports that new research by Chandler and Moraska showed muscle-specific massage therapy is effective for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headaches. 

     A pilot study in 2000, conducted by Gregory P. Fontana, MD at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, found that massage reduces pain and muscle spasms in patients who have multiple incisions.  When surveyed, 95 percent of patients felt that massage therapy was a crucial part of their hospital experience, while need for medications dropped on days they received massage.

     In their Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals:  The Official Handbook updated in August 2000, the Joint Commission On Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) suggests massage as a non-pharmacological therapy can be used successfully in pain management.  Some hospitals are including massage therapists in patient care teams to fight pain.  Often the hospitals are including massage because of demand.

     The effectiveness of massage lies in a simple and direct strategy:  working external, outer mechanisms of pain to the primary, root cause.  Massage therapy utilize a holistic approach, focusing on the entire body system and its relationship to soft tissue.  Their care isnít focused only on the site of pain.

     Although more research is needed to confirm the best uses of massage, the potential for 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 hospitals, clinics, in private practice offices, and in home care. 


Judy King & Associates, Inc.
1424 Brown Trail, Bedford Texas   76022
Conveniently Located in Bedford, Texas

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