Is massage therapy medically proven?

Massage therapy may be helpful for neck or shoulder pain, but the benefits may only last a short time. Massage is generally considered part of integrative medicine. Medical centers are increasingly offering it as a treatment along with standard treatment. It can be used for a wide range of medical conditions.

For most patients, massage therapy is an important part of specific medical treatment plans to help them resume their daily activities. For example, massage therapy is useful after joint replacement surgery or injury. Research suggests that massages help patients better manage chronic conditions such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Because massage therapy has many purported benefits, research has been or is being conducted on a wide range of patients with a variety of conditions.

Most of the research to date has included small preliminary studies that lack the methodological quality to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of massage therapy. A common misconception about massage is that it's just part of a spa day and it's meant to treat yourself. The result was a recommended research agenda for the massage therapy profession that included building a massage research infrastructure and investigating the safety, effectiveness, and mechanisms of massage therapy. Among chronic pain patients who take pain relievers on a daily basis, most report that regular massage reduces the number of doses they need and improves results.

It also relaxes muscles, improves range of motion, and increases endorphins, which may improve medical treatment. Physical therapy and pain relievers help, but persistent pain and medication side effects can delay recovery. The ability to turn and crouch around obstacles, such as beds or medical equipment, is essential for massage therapists working in healthcare settings. The NCCIH Information Center provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative approaches to health, including publications and searches of federal databases of scientific and medical literature.

In the initial session, the massage therapist will ask you questions about your health and the symptoms you experience to determine how best to treat you. At Mayo Clinic, medical professionals can recommend massage therapy to help people cope with pain and stress from a variety of conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, stomach problems, or fibromyalgia. Of the massage therapists who work in doctor's offices, most collaborate with a wide range of healthcare providers to optimize interventions. The UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine offers a range of services to improve each person's ability to promote their own emotional well-being.

At the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, licensed massage therapists have years of experience and training in treating patients with complicated medical conditions, specifically cancer, and using massage to improve overall health. To provide resources to help answer health questions, MedlinePlus (a service of the National Library of Medicine) gathers reliable information from the National Institutes of Health, as well as other government agencies and health-related organizations.