The Benefits of Massage Therapy: Is it Medically Proven?

Massage therapy is increasingly being offered as a treatment option in medical centers, and for good reason. Research suggests that massage therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of medical conditions, from neck or shoulder pain to chronic conditions such as depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. While most of the research to date has included small preliminary studies, massage therapy is generally considered part of integrative medicine and can be used as part of specific medical treatment plans to help patients resume their daily activities. For example, massage therapy is useful after joint replacement surgery or injury.

It can also relax muscles, improve range of motion, and increase endorphins, which may improve medical treatment. 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. 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. 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.The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (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. 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.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. The ability to turn and crouch around obstacles, such as beds or medical equipment, is essential for massage therapists working in healthcare settings.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. While the benefits may only last a short time, massage therapy is an important part of many medical treatment plans.