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1.  Massage Therapy vs. Simple Touch to Improve Pain and Mood in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Randomized Trial 
Annals of internal medicine  2008;149(6):369-379.
Small studies of variable quality suggest that massage therapy may relieve pain and other symptoms.
Evaluate efficacy of massage for decreasing pain and symptom distress and improving quality of life among persons with advanced cancer.
Multi-site randomized clinical trial.
Population-based Palliative Care Research Network (PoPCRN).
380 adults with advanced cancer experiencing moderate-severe pain; 90% were enrolled in hospice.
Six 30-minute massage or simple touch sessions over two weeks.
Primary outcomes were immediate (Memorial Pain Assessment Card, MPAC, 0 – 10 scale) and sustained (Brief Pain Inventory, BPI, 0 – 10 scales) change in pain. Secondary outcomes were immediate change in mood (MPAC 0 – 10 scale) and 60-second heart and respiratory rates and sustained change in quality of life (McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire, MQOL, 0 – 10 scale), symptom distress (Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale, MSAS, 0 – 4 scale), and analgesic medication use (parenteral morphine equivalents (milligrams/24 hours). Immediate outcomes were obtained just prior to and following each treatment session. Sustained outcomes were obtained at baseline and weekly for 3 weeks.
298 were included in the immediate outcome analysis and 348 in the sustained outcome analysis. 82 did not receive any allocated study treatments (37 massage, 45 control). Both groups demonstrated immediate improvement in pain (massage -1.87 points (CI, -2.07, -1.67), control -0.97 points (CI, -1.18, -0.76)) and mood (massage 1.58 points (CI, 1.40, 1.76), control 0.97 points (CI, 0.78, 1.16)). Massage was superior for both pain and mood (mean difference 0.90 and 0.61 points, respectively, P<0.001). There were no between group mean differences over time in pain (BPI Mean 0.07 (CI, -0.23, 0.37), BPI Worst -0.14 (CI, -0.59, 0.31)), quality of life (MQOL Overall 0.08 (CI, -0.37, 0.53)), symptom distress (MSAS Global Distress Index -0.002 (CI, -0.12, 0.12)), or analgesic medication use (parenteral morphine equivalents -0.10 (CI, -0.25, 0.05).
The immediate outcome measures were obtained by unblinded study therapists, possibly leading to reporting bias and the overestimation of beneficial effect. The generalizability to all advanced cancer patients is uncertain. The differential beneficial effect of massage therapy over simple touch is not conclusive in the absence of a “usual care” control arm.
Massage may have immediately beneficial effects on pain and mood among patients with advanced cancer. Given the lack of sustained effects and the observed improvements in both study arms, the potential benefits of attention and simple touch should also be considered in this population.
PMCID: PMC2631433  PMID: 18794556
2.  Randomised trial of acupuncture compared with conventional massage and “sham” laser acupuncture for treatment of chronic neck pain 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;322(7302):1574.
To compare the efficacy of acupuncture and conventional massage for the treatment of chronic neck pain.
Prospective, randomised, placebo controlled trial.
Three outpatient departments in Germany.
177 patients aged 18-85 years with chronic neck pain.
Patients were randomly allocated to five treatments over three weeks with acupuncture (56), massage (60), or “sham” laser acupuncture (61).
Main outcome measures
Primary outcome measure: maximum pain related to motion (visual analogue scale) irrespective of direction of movement one week after treatment. Secondary outcome measures: range of motion (3D ultrasound real time motion analyser), pain related to movement in six directions (visual analogue scale), pressure pain threshold (pressure algometer), changes of spontaneous pain, motion related pain, global complaints (seven point scale), and quality of life (SF-36). Assessments were performed before, during, and one week and three months after treatment. Patients' beliefs in treatment were assessed.
One week after five treatments the acupuncture group showed a significantly greater improvement in motion related pain compared with massage (difference 24.22 (95% confidence interval 16.5 to 31.9), P=0.0052) but not compared with sham laser (17.28 (10.0 to 24.6), P=0.327). Differences between acupuncture and massage or sham laser were greater in the subgroup who had had pain for longer than five years (n=75) and in patients with myofascial pain syndrome (n=129). The acupuncture group had the best results in most secondary outcome measures. There were no differences in patients' beliefs in treatment.
Acupuncture is an effective short term treatment for patients with chronic neck pain, but there is only limited evidence for long term effects after five treatments.
What is already known on this topicAcupuncture is a widespread complementary treatmentEvidence from trials have given conflicting results on its use in the treatment of neck pain because of methodological shortcomings and because effects were compared either with alternative treatments or with different sham procedures imitating acupuncture, but not bothWhat this study addsCompared with sham laser acupuncture and massage, needle acupuncture has beneficial effects on mobility and pain related to motion in patients with chronic neck painAcupuncture was clearly more effective than massage, but differences were not always significant compared with sham laser acupunctureAcupuncture was the best treatment for patients with the myofascial syndrome and those who had had pain for longer than five years
PMCID: PMC33515  PMID: 11431299
3.  Changes in Clinical Parameters in Patients with Tension-type Headache Following Massage Therapy: A Pilot Study 
Complementary and alternative medicine approaches to treatment for tension-type headache are increasingly popular among patients, but evidence supporting its efficacy is limited. The objective of this study was to assess short term changes on primary and secondary headache pain measures in patients with tension-type headache (TTH) receiving a structured massage therapy program with a focus on myofascial trigger point therapy. Participants were enrolled in an open label trial using a baseline control with four 3-week phases: baseline, massage (two 3-week phases) and follow-up. Twice weekly, 45-minute massage sessions commenced following the baseline phase. A daily headache diary was maintained throughout the study in which participants recorded headache incidence, intensity, and duration. The Headache Disability Index was administered upon study entry and at 3-week intervals thereafter. 18 subjects were enrolled with 16 completing all headache diary, evaluation, and massage assignments. Study participants reported a median of 7.5 years with TTH. Headache frequency decreased from 4.7±0.7 episodes per week during baseline to 3.7±0.9 during treatment period 2 (P<0.001); reduction was also noted during the follow-up phase (3.2±1.0). Secondary measures of headache also decreased across the study phases with headache intensity decreasing by 30% (P<0.01) and headache duration from 4.0±1.3 to 2.8±0.5 hours (P<0.05). A corresponding improvement in Headache Disability Index was found with massage (P<0.001). This pilot study provides preliminary evidence for reduction in headache pain and disability with massage therapy that targets myofascial trigger points, suggesting the need for more rigorously controlled studies.
PMCID: PMC2565109  PMID: 19119396
Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Headache Disability Index; Manual Therapy; Myofasical Pain; Myofascial Trigger Points
4.  Effectiveness of massage therapy for subacute low-back pain: a randomized controlled trial 
BACKGROUND: The effectiveness of massage therapy for low-back pain has not been documented. This randomized controlled trial compared comprehensive massage therapy (soft-tissue manipulation, remedial exercise and posture education), 2 components of massage therapy and placebo in the treatment of subacute (between 1 week and 8 months) low-back pain. METHODS: Subjects with subacute low-back pain were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: comprehensive massage therapy (n = 25), soft-tissue manipulation only (n = 25), remedial exercise with posture education only (n = 22) or a placebo of sham laser therapy (n = 26). Each subject received 6 treatments within approximately 1 month. Outcome measures obtained at baseline, after treatment and at 1-month follow-up consisted of the Roland Disability Questionnaire (RDQ), the McGill Pain Questionnaire (PPI and PRI), the State Anxiety Index and the Modified Schober test (lumbar range of motion). RESULTS: Of the 107 subjects who passed screening, 98 (92%) completed post-treatment tests and 91 (85%) completed follow-up tests. Statistically significant differences were noted after treatment and at follow-up. The comprehensive massage therapy group had improved function (mean RDQ score 1.54 v. 2.86-6.5, p < 0.001), less intense pain (mean PPI score 0.42 v. 1.18-1.75, p < 0.001) and a decrease in the quality of pain (mean PRI score 2.29 v. 4.55-7.71, p = 0.006) compared with the other 3 groups. Clinical significance was evident for the comprehensive massage therapy group and the soft-tissue manipulation group on the measure of function. At 1-month follow-up 63% of subjects in the comprehensive massage therapy group reported no pain as compared with 27% of the soft-tissue manipulation group, 14% of the remedial exercise group and 0% of the sham laser therapy group. INTERPRETATION: Patients with subacute low-back pain were shown to benefit from massage therapy, as regulated by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario and delivered by experienced massage therapists.
PMCID: PMC1231369  PMID: 10906914
5.  Touch and Massage for Medically Fragile Infants 
Research investigating the efficacy of infant massage has largely focused on premature and low birth weight infants. The majority of investigations have neglected highly acute patients in academic neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The current study was developed with two aims: (Phase 1) to develop, implement and demonstrate the feasibility and safety of a parent-trained compassionate touch/massage program for infants with complex medical conditions and (Phase 2) to conduct a longitudinal randomized control trial (RCT) of hand containment/massage versus standard of care in a level III academic Center for Newborn and Infant Critical Care (CNICC). Certified infant massage instructors (CIMIs) taught parents to massage their hospitalized infants. Massage therapy and instruction were performed for seven consecutive days and health outcomes were collected for up to 1 month following treatment. Caregivers, nurses and certified infant massage therapists indicated moderate to high levels of satisfaction and feasibility with the implementation of hand containment/massage in a level III academic center CNICC. In addition, infant behavioral and physiological measures were within safe limits during the massage sessions. All caregivers participating in the massage group reported high levels of satisfaction 7 days into the intervention and at the 1-month follow-up with regards to their relationship with their infant, the massage program's impact on that relationship and the massage program. Due to unequal and small sample sizes, between group analyses (control versus massage) were not conducted. Descriptive infant characteristics of health outcomes are described. Preliminary data from this study indicates feasibility and safety of infant massage and satisfaction among the caregivers, CIMIs and the nurses in the CNICC. An important contribution from this study was the demonstration of the infants’ safety based on physiological stability and no change in agitation/pain scores of the infants receiving massage. Massage in a tertiary urban academic NICU continues to be an area of needed study. Future studies examining infant health outcomes, such as weight gain, decreased length of hospitalization and caregiver–infant bonding, would provide greater insight into the impact of massage for medically fragile infants.
PMCID: PMC2781772  PMID: 18955228
medically fragile; infant massage; neonatal intensive care; caregiver depression; pediatric psychology; CAM; integrative medicine
6.  Effectiveness of Chinese massage therapy (Tui Na) for chronic low back pain: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15(1):418.
Low back pain is a common, disabling musculoskeletal disorder in both developing and developed countries. Although often recommended, the potential efficacy of massage therapy in general, and Chinese massage (tuina) in particular, for relief of chronic low back pain (CLBP) has not been fully established due to inadequate sample sizes, low methodological quality, and subclinical dosing regimens of trials to date. Thus, the purpose of this randomized controlled trial (RCT) is to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of tuina massage therapy versus conventional analgesics for CLBP.
The present study is a single center, two-arm, open-label RCT. A total of 150 eligible CLBP patients will be randomly assigned to either a tuina treatment group or a conventional drug control group in a 1:1 ratio. Patients in the tuina group receive a 20 minutes, 4-step treatment protocol which includes both structural and relaxation massage, administered in 20 sessions over a period of 4 weeks. Patients in the conventional drug control group are instructed to take a specific daily dose of ibuprofen. The primary outcome measure is the change from baseline back pain and function, measured by Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire, at two months. Secondary outcome measures include the visual analogue scale, Japanese orthopedic association score (JOAS), and McGill pain questionnaire.
The design and methodological rigor of this trial will allow for collection of valuable data to evaluate the efficacy of a specific tuina protocol for treating CLBP. This trial will therefore contribute to providing a solid foundation for clinical treatment of CLBP, as well as future research in massage therapy.
Trial registration
This trial was registered with of the National Institute of Health on 22 October 2013 (http://NCT01973010).
PMCID: PMC4228121  PMID: 25352050
Chronic low back pain; Effectiveness; Randomized controlled trial; Tuina; Chinese massage therapy
7.  Randomized Trial of Therapeutic Massage for Chronic Neck Pain 
The Clinical journal of pain  2009;25(3):233-238.
Little is known about the effectiveness of therapeutic massage, one of the most popular complementary medical treatments for neck pain. A randomized controlled trial was conducted to evaluate whether therapeutic massage is more beneficial than a self-care book for patients with chronic neck pain.
Sixty-four such patients were randomized to receive up to 10 massages over 10 weeks or a self-care book. Follow-up telephone interviews after 4, 10, and 26 weeks assessed outcomes including dysfunction and symptoms. Log-binomial regression was used to assess whether there were differences in the percentages of participants with clinically meaningful improvements in dysfunction and symptoms (i.e., > 5 point improvement on the Neck Disability Index (NDI); > 30% improvement from baseline on the symptom bothersomeness scale) at each time point.
At 10 weeks, more participants randomized to massage experienced clinically significant improvement on the NDI (39% vs. 14% of book group; RR= 2.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.99–7.5) and on the symptom bothersomeness scale (55% vs. 25% of book group; RR=2.2; 95% CI=1.04–4.2). After 26 weeks, massage group members tended to be more likely to report improved function (RR=1.8; 95% CI=0.97–3.5), but not symptom bothersomeness (RR=1.1; 95% CI=0.6–2.0). Mean differences between groups were strongest at 4 weeks and not evident by 26 weeks. No serious adverse experiences were reported.
This study suggests that massage is safe and may have clinical benefits for treating chronic neck pain at least in the short term. A larger trial is warranted to confirm these results.
PMCID: PMC2664516  PMID: 19333174
8.  Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain 
Objective To determine the effectiveness of lessons in the Alexander technique, massage therapy, and advice from a doctor to take exercise (exercise prescription) along with nurse delivered behavioural counselling for patients with chronic or recurrent back pain.
Design Factorial randomised trial.
Setting 64 general practices in England.
Participants 579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain; 144 were randomised to normal care, 147 to massage, 144 to six Alexander technique lessons, and 144 to 24 Alexander technique lessons; half of each of these groups were randomised to exercise prescription.
Interventions Normal care (control), six sessions of massage, six or 24 lessons on the Alexander technique, and prescription for exercise from a doctor with nurse delivered behavioural counselling.
Main outcome measures Roland Morris disability score (number of activities impaired by pain) and number of days in pain.
Results Exercise and lessons in the Alexander technique, but not massage, remained effective at one year (compared with control Roland disability score 8.1: massage -0.58, 95% confidence interval -1.94 to 0.77, six lessons -1.40, -2.77 to -0.03, 24 lessons -3.4, -4.76 to -2.03, and exercise -1.29, -2.25 to -0.34). Exercise after six lessons achieved 72% of the effect of 24 lessons alone (Roland disability score -2.98 and -4.14, respectively). Number of days with back pain in the past four weeks was lower after lessons (compared with control median 21 days: 24 lessons -18, six lessons -10, massage -7) and quality of life improved significantly. No significant harms were reported.
Conclusions One to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain. Six lessons followed by exercise prescription were nearly as effective as 24 lessons.
Trial registration National Research Register N0028108728.
PMCID: PMC3272681  PMID: 18713809
9.  Changes in Psychological Parameters in Patients with Tension-type Headache Following Massage Therapy: A Pilot Study 
Investigations into complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches to address stress, depression, and anxiety of those experiencing chronic pain are rare. The objective of this pilot study was to assess the value of a structured massage therapy program, with a focus on myofascial trigger points, on psychological measures associated with tension-type headache. Participants were enrolled in an open-label trial using a baseline control with four 3-week phases: baseline, massage (two 3-week periods) and a follow-up phase. Eighteen subjects with episodic or chronic tension-type headache were enrolled and evaluated at 3-week intervals using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, and the Perceived Stress Scale. The Daily Stress Inventory was administered over 7-day periods during baseline and the final week of massage. Twice weekly, 45-minute massage therapy sessions commenced following the baseline phase and continued for 6 weeks. A significant improvement in all psychological measures was detected over the timeframe of the study. Post hoc evaluation indicated improvement over baseline for depression and trait anxiety following 6 weeks of massage, but not 3 weeks. A reduction in the number of events deemed stressful as well as their respective impact was detected. This pilot study provides evidence for reduction of affective distress in a chronic pain population, suggesting the need for more rigorously controlled studies using massage therapy to address psychological measures associated with TTH.
PMCID: PMC2700492  PMID: 20046550
Beck Depression Inventory; Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Daily Stress Inventory; Myofascial Pain; State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
10.  Dosing study of massage for chronic neck pain: protocol for the dose response evaluation and analysis of massage [DREAM] trial 
Despite the growing popularity of massage, its effectiveness for treating neck pain remains unclear, largely because of the poor quality of research. A major deficiency of previous studies has been their use of low “doses” of massage that massage therapists consider inadequate. Unfortunately, the number of minutes per massage session, sessions per week, or weeks of treatment necessary for massage to have beneficial or optimal effects are not known. This study is designed to address these gaps in our knowledge by determining, for persons with chronic neck pain: 1) the optimal combination of number of treatments per week and length of individual treatment session, and 2) the optimal number of weeks of treatment.
In this study, 228 persons with chronic non-specific neck pain will be recruited from primary health care clinics in a large health care system in the Seattle area. Participants will be randomized to a wait list control group or 4 weeks of treatment with one of 5 different dosing combinations (2 or 3 30-min treatments per week or 1, 2, or 3 60-min treatments per week). At the end of this 4-week primary treatment period, participants initially receiving each of the 5 dosing combinations will be randomized to a secondary treatment period of either no additional treatment or 6 weekly 60-min massages. The primary outcomes, neck-related dysfunction and pain, will be assessed by blinded telephone interviewers 5, 12, and 26 weeks post-randomization. To better characterize the trajectory of treatment effects, these interview data will be supplemented with outcomes data collected by internet questionnaire at 10, 16, 20 and 39 weeks. Comparisons of outcomes for the 6 groups during the primary treatment period will identify the optimal weekly dose, while comparisons of outcomes during the secondary treatment period will determine if 10 weeks of treatment is superior to 4 weeks.
A broad dosing schedule was included in this trial. If adherence to any of these doses is poor, those doses will be discontinued.
Trial registration
This trial is registered in, with the ID number of NCT01122836
PMCID: PMC3546891  PMID: 22985134
Therapeutic massage; Optimal dose; Chronic neck pain
11.  The effect of foot massage on long-term care staff working with older people with dementia: a pilot, parallel group, randomized controlled trial 
BMC Nursing  2013;12:5.
Caring for a person with dementia can be physically and emotionally demanding, with many long-term care facility staff experiencing increased levels of stress and burnout. Massage has been shown to be one way in which nurses’ stress can be reduced. However, no research has been conducted to explore its effectiveness for care staff working with older people with dementia in long-term care facilities.
This was a pilot, parallel group, randomized controlled trial aimed at exploring feasibility for a larger randomized controlled trial. Nineteen staff, providing direct care to residents with dementia and regularly working ≥ two day-shifts a week, from one long-term care facility in Queensland (Australia), were randomized into either a foot massage intervention (n=9) or a silent resting control (n=10). Each respective session lasted for 10-min, and participants could receive up to three sessions a week, during their allocated shift, over four-weeks. At pre- and post-intervention, participants were assessed on self-report outcome measures that rated mood state and experiences of working with people with dementia. Immediately before and after each intervention/control session, participants had their blood pressure and anxiety measured. An Intention To Treat framework was applied to the analyses. Individual qualitative interviews were also undertaken to explore participants’ perceptions of the intervention.
The results indicate the feasibility of undertaking such a study in terms of: recruitment; the intervention; timing of intervention; and completion rates. A change in the intervention indicated the importance of a quiet, restful environment when undertaking a relaxation intervention. For the psychological measures, although there were trends indicating improvement in mood there was no significant difference between groups when comparing their pre- and post- scores. There were significant differences between groups for diastolic blood pressure (p= 0.04, partial η2=0.22) and anxiety (p= 0.02, partial η2=0.31), with the foot massage group experiencing greatest decreases immediately after the session. The qualitative interviews suggest the foot massage was well tolerated and although taking staff away from their work resulted in some participants feeling guilty about taking time out, a 10-min foot massage was feasible during a working shift.
This pilot trial provides data to support the feasibility of the study in terms of recruitment and consent, the intervention and completion rates. Although the outcome data should be treated with caution, the pilot demonstrated the foot massage intervention showed trends in improved mood, reduced anxiety and lower blood pressure in long-term care staff working with older people with dementia. A larger study is needed to build on these promising, but preliminary, findings.
Trial registration
ACTRN: ACTRN12612000659808.
PMCID: PMC3598869  PMID: 23414448
Anxiety; Blood pressure; Care staff; Complementary and alternative medicine; Dementia; Long-term care; Massage; Mood state; Pilot; Randomized controlled trial
12.  Effectiveness of focused structural massage and relaxation massage for chronic low back pain: protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2009;10:96.
Chronic back pain is a major public health problem and the primary reason patients seek massage treatment. Despite the growing use of massage for chronic low back pain, there have been few studies of its effectiveness. This trial will be the first evaluation of the effectiveness of relaxation massage for chronic back pain and the first large trial of a focused structural form of massage for this condition.
Methods and Design
A total of 399 participants (133 in each of three arms) between the ages of 20 and 65 years of age who have low back pain lasting at least 3 months will be recruited from an integrated health care delivery system. They will be randomized to one of two types of massage ("focused structural massage" or "relaxation massage"), or continued usual medical care. Ten massage treatments will be provided over 10 weeks. The primary outcomes, standard measures of dysfunction and bothersomeness of low back pain, will be assessed at baseline and after 10, 26, and 52 weeks by telephone interviewers masked to treatment assignment. General health status, satisfaction with back care, days of back-related disability, perceived stress, and use and costs of healthcare services for back pain will also be measured. Outcomes across assigned treatment groups will be compared using generalized estimating equations, accounting for participant correlation and adjusted for baseline value, age, and sex. For both primary outcome measures, this trial will have at least 85% power to detect the presence of a minimal clinically significant difference among the three treatment groups and 91% power for pairwise comparisons. Secondary analyses will compare the proportions of participants in each group that improve by a clinically meaningful amount.
Results of this trial will help clarify the value of two types of massage therapy for chronic low back pain.
Trial registration
Clinical NCT 00371384.
PMCID: PMC2774684  PMID: 19843340
13.  A Pilot Feasibility Study of Massage to Reduce Pain in People with Spinal Cord Injury during Acute Rehabilitation 
Spinal cord  2013;51(11):10.1038/sc.2013.104.
To determine the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial of massage therapy for patients with new spinal cord injury (SCI) during acute inpatient rehabilitation.
A pilot single-center, randomized, single-blind, cross-over clinical trial.
Free-standing, not-for-profit, comprehensive rehabilitation center specializing in SCI rehabilitation
Forty adults ages 18 years and older undergoing acute rehabilitation following spinal cord injury reporting any type of pain.
Rehabilitation nurses trained to give broad compression massage (BCM) and a control light contact touch (LCT) treatments. Participants were randomized to receive either BCM or LCT first, in six 20 minute treatment sessions over two weeks, with a one week wash-out between the two-week treatment periods.
Main Outcome Measures
Primary outcomes were changes in pain intensity and in fatigue, measured daily. Secondary outcomes included depressive symptoms measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and an assessment of pain medication usage.
Pain intensity was higher at baseline and reduced more in the LCT-first group compared to the BCM-first group in period 1 (p=0.014); although this pattern was not found in period 2 (p=0.58). LCT and BCM groups did not significantly differ on any secondary measures except PHQ-9.
This study demonstrates the feasibility of using rehabilitation nurses to provide tactile therapy to patients with SCI and suggests a model for controlled clinical trials examining the efficacy of massage therapies. While efficacy was difficult to assess, broad compression massage was safe and well tolerated.
PMCID: PMC3815956  PMID: 24042991
spinal cord injury; massage; randomized clinical trial
Muscle soreness can negatively interfere with the activities of daily living as well as sports performance. In the working environment, a common problem is muscle tenderness, soreness and pain, especially for workers frequently exposed to unilateral high repetitive movements tasks. The aim of the study is therefore to investigate the acute effect of massage applied using a simple device Thera‐band roller Massager on laboratory induced hamstring muscle soreness, and the potential cross over effect to the non‐massaged limb.
22 healthy untrained men (Mean age 34 +/− 7 years; mean height 181.7 +/− 6.9 cm; mean weight 80.6 +/− 6.4 kg; BMI: 24.5 +/− 1.3) with no prior history of knee, low back or neck injury or other adverse health issues were recruited. Participants visited the researchers on two separate occasions, separated by 48 hours, each time providing a soreness rating (modified visual analog scale 0‐10), and being tested for pressure pain threshold (PPT) and active range of motion (ROM) of the hamstring muscles. During the first visit, delayed onset muscular soreness of the hamstring muscles was induced by 10 x 10 repetitions of the stiff‐legged dead‐lift. On the second visit participants received either 1) 10 minutes of roller massage on one leg, while the contralateral leg served as a cross over control, or 2) Resting for 10 minutes with no massage at all. Measurement of soreness, PPT and ROM were taken immediately before and at 0, 10, 30 and 60 min. after treatment.
There was a significant group by time interaction for soreness (p < 0.0001) and PPT (p = 0.0007), with the massage group experiencing reduced soreness and increasing PPT compared with the control group. There was no group by time interaction for ROM (p = 0.18). At 10 min. post massage there was a significant reduction in soreness of the non‐massaged limb in the cross over control group compared to controls but this effect was lost 30 minutes post massage.
Massage with a roller device reduces muscle soreness and is accompanied by a higher PPT of the affected muscle.
Level of Evidence:
2c; outcomes research
PMCID: PMC3924612  PMID: 24567859
Cross over effect; delayed onset muscle soreness hyperalgesia; pain
15.  The effects of reflexology on chronic low back pain intensity in nurses employed in hospitals affiliated with Isfahan University of Medical Sciences 
Humans have been involved with the phenomena of pain and pain relief from the ancient times. Back pain is the most common pain. In fact, eight out of ten people experience it in their lifetime. However, individuals with specific jobs, including nurses, are faced with this problem more. Nursing is in the top ten careers suffering from the most severe musculoskeletal injuries. There are non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments to relieve back pain. One of the non-medical treatments of pain is called reflexology which is a branch of complementary and alternative therapies. This research has been conducted to investigate the effect of reflexology on chronic low back pain intensity.
Materials and Methods:
This study was a double-blind clinical trial. The study population consisted of 50 female and male nurses suffering from chronic low back pain working in hospitals affiliated with Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. The participants were divided into two groups of reflexology and non-specific massage. A questionnaire was completed through interviews and a 40 minute sessions of interventions were performed three times a week for two weeks. Pain intensity was measured by Numerical Analogue Scale for pain before and after the intervention. Descriptive and inferential statistics, including independent t-test and chi-square test, were used to analyze the data.
The results showed a significantly higher reduction in pain intensity scores in the reflexology group after the intervention as compared with the non-specific massage group. However, the non-specific massage was also significantly effective in reducing pain.
Reflexology can be effective in reducing the severity of chronic back pain, i.e. it is able to reduce pain from moderate to mild. Thus, this technique is recommended to be performed by nurses as a complementary therapy in patient care.
PMCID: PMC3696219  PMID: 23833620
Pain; complementary therapies; nursing; reflexology; back pain
16.  A Comparison of the Effects of 2 Types of Massage and Usual Care on Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial 
Annals of internal medicine  2011;155(1):1-9.
Few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of massage for back pain.
To evaluate the effectiveness of two types of massage for chronic back pain.
Single-blind parallel group randomized controlled trial.
Integrated health care delivery system in Seattle area.
401 persons 20 to 65 years of age with non-specific chronic low back pain.
Ten treatments over 10 weeks of Structural Massage (intended to identify and alleviate musculoskeletal contributors to pain through focused soft-tissue manipulation) (n=132) or Relaxation Massage (intended to decrease pain and dysfunction by inducing relaxation) (n=136). Treatments provided by 27 experienced licensed massage therapists. Comparison group received continued usual care (n=133). Study presented as comparison of usual care with two types of massage.
Primary outcomes were the Roland Disability Questionnaire (RDQ) and the Symptom Bothersomeness scale measured at 10 weeks. Outcomes also measured after 26 and 52 weeks.
At 10 weeks, the massage groups had similar functional outcomes that were superior to those for usual care. The adjusted mean RDQ scores were 2.9 and 2.4 points lower for the relaxation and structural massage groups, respectively, compared to usual care (95% CIs: [1.8, 4.0] and [1.4, 3.5]). Adjusted mean symptom bothersomeness scores were 1.7 points and 1.4 points lower with relaxation and structural massage, respectively, versus usual care (95% CIs: [1.2, 2.2] and [0.8, 1.9]). The beneficial effects of relaxation massage on function (but not on symptom reduction) persisted at 52 weeks, but were small.
Restricted to single site; therapists and patients not blinded to treatment.
This study confirms the results of smaller trials that massage is an effective treatment for chronic back pain with benefits lasting at least 6 months, and also finds no evidence of a clinically-meaningful difference in the effectiveness of two distinct types of massage.
Primary Funding Source
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
PMCID: PMC3570565  PMID: 21727288
17.  Evaluating the Influence of Massage on Leg Strength, Swelling, and Pain Following a Half-Marathon 
Journal of Sports Science & Medicine  2004;3(YISI 1):37-43.
Massage therapy is commonly used following endurance running races with the expectation that it will enhance post-run recovery of muscle function and reduce soreness. A limited number of studies have reported little or no influence of massage therapy on post-exercise muscle recovery. However, no studies have been conducted in a field setting to assess the potential for massage to influence muscle recovery following an actual endurance running race. To evaluate the potential for repeated massage therapy interventions to influence recovery of quadriceps and hamstring muscle soreness, recovery of quadriceps and hamstring muscle strength and reduction of upper leg muscle swelling over a two week recovery period following an actual road running race. Twelve adult recreational runners (8 male, 4 female) completed a half marathon (21.1 km) road race. On days 1,4, 8, and 11 post-race, subjects received 30 minutes of standardized massage therapy performed by a registered massage therapist on a randomly assigned massage treatment leg, while the other (control) leg received no massage treatment. Two days prior to the race (baseline) and preceding the treatments on post-race days 1, 4, 8, and 11 the following measures were conducted on each of the massage and control legs: strength of quadriceps and hamstring muscles, leg swelling, and soreness perception. At day 1, post-race quadriceps peak torque was significantly reduced (p < 0.05), and soreness and leg circumference significantly elevated (p < 0.05) relative to pre-race values with no difference between legs. This suggested that exercise-induced muscle disruption did occur. Comparing the rate of return to baseline measures between the massaged and control legs, revealed no significant differences (p > 0.05). All measures had returned to baseline at day 11. Massage did not affect the recovery of muscles in terms of physiological measures of strength, swelling, or soreness. However, questionnaires revealed that 7 of the 12 participants perceived that the massaged leg felt better upon recovery.
Key PointsMassage does not appear to affect physiological indices of muscle recovery post exercise.Massage does appear to positively influence perceptions of recovery.More research needs to be completed on the purported benefits of massage.
PMCID: PMC3990931  PMID: 24778552
Recovery; running; perception; massage
18.  The Effect of Massage Therapy by Patients’ Companions on Severity of Pain in the Patients Undergoing Post Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: A Single-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial 
Background: Pain on mid sternotomy incision site after Coronary Artery Bypass  Graft  Surgery (CABG) is a common problem that causes sleep disturbance, delayed wound healing, and increased use of analgesic drugs. Massage therapy which is mostly performed by healthcare providers is a non-pharmacological approach for managing this pain. The present study aimed to determine the effect of massage therapy by patient’s companion on the severity of pain in post CABG patients.
Methods: In this randomized single-blind clinical trial, 70 post CABG patients were randomly divided into an intervention and a control group. The intervention group received massage by one of their relatives who was trained by an expert nurse. The control group, on the other hand, received routine care. The pain intensity was assessed by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) before and immediately, 30, 60, and 120 minutes after the intervention. Then, the data were entered into the SPSS statistical software (version 16) and analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA and post-hoc test (Scheffe).
Results: At the beginning of the study, no significant difference was found between the two groups regarding the pain severity. In the intervention group, the pain severity significantly decreased in all the four time points after the intervention (P=0.001). However, no significant difference was observed in this regard in the control group.
Conclusion: Massage therapy by patient’s companion trained by a nurse was an effective strategy for pain management in post CABG patients. This could also promote the patient’s family participation in the process of care.
Trial Registration Number: IRCT201208218505N3.
PMCID: PMC4201205  PMID: 25349854
Massage Therapy; Companion; Pain; Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surger
19.  A Descriptive Study of the Practice Patterns of Massage New Zealand Massage Therapists 
Massage therapy has grown in popularity, yet little is known globally or in New Zealand about massage therapists and their practices.
Purpose and Setting:
The aims of this study were to describe the practice patterns of trained Massage New Zealand massage therapists in New Zealand private practice, with regard to therapist characteristics; practice modes and settings, and therapy characteristics; referral patterns; and massage therapy as an occupation.
Research Design and Participants:
A survey questionnaire was mailed to 66 trained massage therapist members of Massage New Zealand who were recruiting massage clients for a concurrent study of massage therapy culture.
Most massage therapists were women (83%), NZ European (76%), and holders of a massage diploma qualification (89%). Massage therapy was both a full- (58%) and part-time (42%) occupation, with the practice of massage therapy being the only source of employment for 70% of therapists. Nearly all therapists (94%) practiced massage for more than 40 weeks in the year, providing a median of 16 – 20 hours of direct client care per week. Most massage therapists worked in a “solo practice” (58%) and used a wide and active referral network. Almost all therapists treated musculoskeletal symptoms: the most common client issues or conditions treated were back pain/problem (99%), neck/shoulder pain/problem (99%), headache or migraine (99%), relaxation and stress reduction (96%), and regular recovery or maintenance massage (89%). The most frequent client fee per treatment was NZ$60 per hour in a clinic and NZ$1 per minute at a sports event or in the workplace. Therapeutic massage, relaxation massage, sports massage, and trigger-point therapy were the most common styles of massage therapy offered. Nearly all massage therapists (99%) undertook client assessment; 95% typically provided self-care recommendations; and 32% combined other complementary and alternative medicine therapies with their massage consultations.
This study provides new information about the practice of massage therapy by trained massage therapists. It will help to inform the massage industry and other health care providers, potential funders, and policymakers about the provision of massage therapy in the NZ health care system.
PMCID: PMC3088528  PMID: 21589692
Complementary and alternative therapies; massage therapy; New Zealand; integrative care; practice patterns
20.  Therapeutic Massage Provides Pain Relief to a Client with Morton’s Neuroma: A Case Report 
Morton’s neuroma is a common cause of pain that radiates from between the third and fourth metatarsals and which, when symptomatic, creates sensations of burning or sharp pain and numbness on the forefoot. Many conservative and surgical interventions are employed to reduce associated pain, but not enough research has been conducted to recommend patients to any one approach as the most reliable source of pain management.
The objective of this case report is to describe the effect of massage therapy on one woman with symptomatic Morton’s neuroma.
A physically active 25-year-old female with diagnosed symptomatic Morton’s neuroma who has not found relief with previous conservative intervention.
Six session of massage therapy once weekly for 60–75 minutes focused on postural alignment and localized foot and leg treatment. The client also completed an at-home exercise each day. Change was monitored each week by the massage therapist reassessing posture and by the client filling out a pain survey based on a Visual Analog Scale.
The client reported progressive change in the character of the pain from burning and stabbing before the first session to a dull, pulsing sensation after the third session. She also recorded a reduction in pain during exercise from a 5/10 to 0/10 (on a scale where 10 is extreme pain).
This study describes how massage therapy reduced pain from Morton’s neuroma for one client; however, larger randomized control studies need to be done in order to determine the short- and long-term effects of massage therapy on this painful condition.
PMCID: PMC3390214  PMID: 22811757
intermetatarsal neuroma; foot health; entrapment neuropathy; Mulder’s sign; forefoot; deep transverse metatarsal ligaments
21.  To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) 
Objectives: To compare the effects of vibration therapy and massage in prevention of DOMS.
Methods: Pre-test and Post-test Control-Group Design was used, 45 healthy female non athletic Subjects were recruited and randomly distributed to the three groups (15 subject in each group). After the subject’s initial status was measured experimental groups received vibration therapy (50 Hz vibration for five minutes) or massage therapy (15 minutes) intervention and control group received no treatment, just prior to the eccentric exercise. Subjects were undergoing the following measurements to evaluate the changes in the muscle condition: muscle soreness (pain perception), Range of Motion (ROM), Maximum Isometric Force (MIF), Repetition maximum (RM), Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and Cretain Kinase (CK) level. All the parameters except LDH, CK and 1RM were measured before, immediately post intervention, immediately post exercise, 24 hours post exercise, 48 hours post exercise and 72 hours post exercise. LDH, CK and 1 RM were measured before and 48 hours post exercise.
Result: Muscle soreness was reported to be significantly less for experimental (vibration and massage) group (p=0.000) as compared to control group at 24, 48, and 72 hours of post-exercise. Experimental and control group did not show any significant difference in MIF immediate (p=0.2898), 24 hours (p=0.4173), 48 hours (p=0.752) and 72 hours (p=0.5297) of post-exercise. Range of motion demonstrated significant recovery in experimental groups in 48 hours (p=0.0016) and 72 hours (p=0.0463). Massage therapy showed significant recovery in 1RM (p=0.000) compared to control group and vibration therapy shows significantly less LDH level (p=0.000) 48 hours of post exercise compare to control group. CK at 48 hours of post exercise in vibration group (p=0.000) and massage group showed (p=0.002) significant difference as compared to control group.
Conclusion: Vibration therapy and massage are equally effective in prevention of DOMS. Massage is effective in restoration of concentric strength (1 RM). Yet vibration therapy shows clinically early reduction of pain and is effective in decreasing the level of LDH in 48 hours post exercise periods.
PMCID: PMC3939523  PMID: 24596744
Vibration therapy; Massage therapy; DOMS ligament
22.  The effect of chair massage on muscular discomfort in cardiac sonographers: a pilot study 
Cardiac sonographers frequently have work-related muscular discomfort. We aimed to assess the feasibility of having sonographers receive massages during working hours in an area adjacent to an echocardiography laboratory and to assess relief of discomfort with use of the massages with or without stretching exercises.
A group of 45 full-time sonographers was randomly assigned to receive weekly 30-minute massage sessions, massages plus stretching exercises to be performed twice a day, or no intervention. Outcome measures were scores of the QuickDASH instrument and its associated work module at baseline and at 10 weeks of intervention. Data were analyzed with standard descriptive statistics and the separation test for early-phase comparative trials.
Forty-four participants completed the study: 15 in the control group, 14 in the massage group, and 15 in the massage plus stretches group. Some improvement was seen in work-related discomfort by the QuickDASH scores and work module scores in the 2 intervention groups. The separation test showed separation in favor of the 2 interventions.
On the basis of the results of this pilot study, larger trials are warranted to evaluate the effect of massages with or without stretching on work-related discomfort in cardiac sonographers.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2949737  PMID: 20846441
23.  Enhanced clinical outcome with manual massage following cryolipolysis treatment: A 4-month study of safety and efficacy 
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine  2013;46(1):20-26.
Background and Objectives
Cryolipolysis procedures have been shown to safely and effectively reduce the thickness of fat in a treated region. This study was conducted to determine whether the addition of post-treatment manual massage would improve efficacy while maintaining the safety profile of the original cryolipolysis treatment protocol.
Materials and Methods
The study population consisted of an efficacy group (n = 10) and a safety group (n = 7). Study subjects were treated on each side of the lower abdomen with a Cooling Intensity Factor of 42 (−72.9 mW/cm2) for 60 minutes. One side of the abdomen was massaged post-treatment and the other side served as the control. Immediately post-treatment, the massage side was treated for 1 minute using a vigorous kneading motion followed by 1 minute of circular massage using the pads of the fingers. For the efficacy group, photos and ultrasound measurements were taken at baseline, 2 months, and 4 months post-treatment. For the safety group, histological analysis was completed at 0, 3, 8, 14, 30, 60, and 120 days post-treatment to examine the effects of massage on subcutaneous tissue over time.
Post-treatment manual massage resulted in a consistent and discernible increase in efficacy over the non-massaged side. At 2 months post-treatment, mean fat layer reduction was 68% greater in the massage side than in the non-massage side as measured by ultrasound. By 4 months, mean fat layer reduction was 44% greater in the massage side. Histological results showed no evidence of necrosis or fibrosis resulting from the massage.
Post-treatment manual massage is a safe and effective technique to enhance the clinical outcome from a cryolipolysis procedure. Lasers Surg. Med. 46:20–26, 2014. © 2013 The Authors. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC4265298  PMID: 24338439
body contouring; cryolipolysis; non-surgical fat reduction; post-treatment massage
24.  Biofeedback is superior to electrogalvanic stimulation and massage for treatment of levator ani syndrome 
Gastroenterology  2010;138(4):1321-1329.
Background & Aims
Levator ani syndrome (LAS) might be treated using biofeedback to teach pelvic floor relaxation, electrogalvanic stimulation (EGS), or massage of levator muscles. We performed a prospective, randomized controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of these techniques and assess physiological mechanisms for treatment.
Inclusion criteria were Rome II symptoms plus weekly pain. Patients were categorized as “highly likely” to have LAS if they reported tenderness with traction on the levator muscles, or as “possible” LAS if they did not. All 157 patients received 9 sessions including psychological counseling plus biofeedback, EGS, or massage. Outcomes were reassessed at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months.
Among patients with “highly likely” LAS, adequate relief was reported by 87% for biofeedback, 45% for EGS, and 22% for massage. Pain days per month decreased from 14.7 at baseline to 3.3 after biofeedback, 8.9 after EGS, and 13.3 after massage. Pain intensity decreased from 6.8 (0–10 scale) at baseline to 1.8 after biofeedback, 4.7 after EGS, and 6.0 after massage. Improvements were maintained for 12 months. Patients with only a “possible” diagnosis of LAS did not benefit from any treatment. Biofeedback and EGS improved LAS by increasing the ability to relax pelvic floor muscles and evacuate a water-filled balloon, and by reducing the urge and pain thresholds.
Biofeedback is the most effective of these treatments, and EGS is somewhat effective. Only patients with tenderness on rectal examination benefit. The pathophysiology of LAS is similar to that of dyssynergic defecation.
PMCID: PMC2847007  PMID: 20044997
Proctalgia; Biofeedback; Electrogalvanic stimulation; Dyssynergic defecation
25.  Massage Therapy Techniques as Pain Management for Erythromelalgia: A Case Report 
Erythromelalgia is characterized by temperature-dependent redness, pain, and warmth in one or more extremities. It may be a primary disease, or it may occur secondarily because of underlying illness. It is a chronic, debilitating condition often resistant to medical treatment.
The present report evaluates massage as a complementary therapy to reduce pain and other symptoms associated with erythromelalgia.
A 31-year-old female with a long-standing history of erythromelalgia bilaterally in the lower extremities presented with complaints of acute pain exacerbation, anxiety, decreased quality of sleep, and difficulty with activities of daily living for prolonged periods of time. She had no previous experience with massage therapy or any other complementary therapies.
Massage therapy was introduced over the course of 9 treatments, each 1 hour in duration, using various massage therapy techniques, remedial exercise, and recommended home care.
In this patient with erythromelalgia, effleurage and petrissage as massage therapy techniques provided temporary pain relief in the lower extremities and long-term benefits that relieved anxiety, which improved restorative sleep and increased the patient’s participation in activities of daily living.
For this treatment protocol, therapist observation and patient feedback suggest that massage therapy may lead to a state of increased relaxation, decreased stress, decreased muscle tension, and improved sleep. These positive effects may have an indirect role in the ability of the patient to cope with erythromelalgia day to day.
PMCID: PMC3088525  PMID: 21589683
Erythromelalgia; massage therapy; pain management

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