Other Proposed Uses
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Cancer Treatment Support
- Cystic Fibrosis
- HIV Support
- Iliotibial Band Pain
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Migraine Headaches
- Neck Pain
- Neonatal Sepsis (Life-threatening Infection in Premature Infants)
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Pregnancy Support
- Quitting Smoking
- Recovery from Severe Burns
- Spinal Cord Injury
Forms of Massage
How Does Massage Work?
What Is Massage Therapy Used For?
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Massage Therapy?
Low Back Pain
- Anorexia nervosa8
- Asthma in children 9
- Cystic fibrosis 12
- Iliotibial band pain (a form of tendonitis that can cause knee or hip pain) 20
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis 21
- Migraine headaches22,39
- Pregnancy and childbirth 23-25,54
- Quitting smoking26
- Burn recovery 27
- Spinal cord injury 28
How to Choose a Massage Therapist
1 White AR, Williamson J, Hart A, et al. A blinded investigation into the accuracy of reflexology charts. Complement Ther Med. 2000;8:166-172.
2 Vickers A. Yes, but how do we know it's true? Knowledge claims in massage and aromatherapy. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 1997;3:63-65.
3 Furlan AD, Brosseau L, Imamura M, et al. Massage for low-back pain: a systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group. Spine. 2002;27:1896-1910.
4 Preyde M. Effectiveness of massage therapy for subacute low-back pain: a randomized controlled trial. CMAJ. 2000;162:1815-1820.
5 Cherkin DC, Eisenberg D, Sherman KJ, et al. Randomized trial comparing traditional Chinese medical acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and self-care education for chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:1081-1088.
6 Franke A, Gebauer S, Franke K, et al. Acupuncture massage vs Swedish massage and individual exercise vs group exercise in low back pain sufferers—a randomized controlled clinical trial in a 2 x 2 factorial design [in German; English abstract]. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2000;7:286-293.
7 Field TM, Quintino O, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder benefit from massage therapy. Adolescence. 1998;33:103-108.
8 Hart S, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Anorexia nervosa symptoms are reduced by massage therapy. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. 2001;9:217-228.
9 Field T, Henteleff T, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Children with asthma have improved pulmonary functions after massage therapy. J Pediatr. 1998;132:854-858.
10 Field T, Lasko D, Mundy P, et al. Brief report: autistic children's attentiveness and responsivity improve after touch therapy. J Autism Dev Disord. 1997;27:333-338.
11 Field T, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, et al. Bulimic adolescents benefit from massage therapy. Adolescence. 1998;33:555-563.
12 Hernandez-Reif M, Field T, Krasnegor J, et al. Children with cystic fibrosis benefit from massage therapy. J Pediatr Psychol. 1999;24:175-181.
13 Field T, Morrow C, Valdeon C, et al. Massage reduces anxiety in child and adolescent psychiatric patients. Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1992;31:125-131.
14 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, LaGreca A, et al. Massage therapy lowers blood glucose levels in children with Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Spectrum. 1997;10:237-239.
15 Schachner L, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Atopic dermatitis symptoms decreased in children following massage therapy. Pediatr Dermatol. 1998;15:390-395.
16 Sunshine W, Field T, Quintino O, et al. Fibromyalgia benefits from massage therapy and transcutaneous electrical stimulation. J Clin Rheumatol. 1996;2:18-22.
17 Offenbacher M, Stucki G. Physical therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Scand J Rheumatol Suppl. 2000;113:78-85.
18 Brattberg G. Connective tissue massage in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Eur J Pain. 1999;3:235-244.
19 Smith WA. Fibromyalgia syndrome. Nurs Clin North Am. 1998;33:653-669.
20 Brosseau L, Casimiro L, Milne S, et al. Deep transverse friction massage for treating tendinitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD003528.
21 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Seligman S, et al. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: benefits from massage therapy. J Pediatr Psychol. 1997;22:607-617.
22 Hernandez-Reif M, Deiter J, Field T, et al. Migraine headaches are reduced by massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 1998;96:1-11.
23 Chang MY, Wang SY, Chen CH. Effects of massage on pain and anxiety during labour: a randomized controlled trial in Taiwan. J Adv Nurs. 2002;38:68-73.
24 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Taylor S, et al. Labor pain is reduced by massage therapy. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1997;18:286-291.
25 Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Hart S, et al. Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 1999;20:31-38.
26 Hernandez-Reif M, Feld T, Hart S. Smoking cravings are reduced by self-massage. Prev Med. 1999;28:28-32.
27 Field T, Peck M, Krugman S, et al. Burn injuries benefit from massage therapy. J Burn Care Rehabil. 1998;19:241-244.
28 Diego MA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Spinal cord patients benefit from massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 2002;112:133-142.
29 Hernandez-Reif M, Martinez A, Field T, et al. Premenstrual symptoms are relieved by massage therapy. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2000;21:9-15.
30 Oleson T, Flocco W. Randomized controlled study of premenstrual symptoms treated with ear, hand, and foot reflexology. Obstet Gynecol. 1993;82:906-911.
31 Birk TJ, McGrady A, MacArthur RD, et al. The effects of massage therapy alone and in combination with other complementary therapies on immune system measures and quality of life in human immunodeficiency virus. J Altern Complement Med. 2000;6:405-414.
32 Diego MA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. HIV adolescents show improved immune function following massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 2001;106:35-45.
33 Ironson G, Field T, Scafidi F, et al. Massage therapy is associated with enhancement of the immune system's cytotoxic capacity. Int J Neurosci. 1996;84:205-217.
34 Irnich D, Behrens N, Molzen H, et al. Randomised trial of acupuncture compared with conventional massage and sham laser acupuncture for treatment of chronic neck pain. BMJ. 2001;322:1-6.
35 Buss IC, Halfens RJ, Abu-Saad HH. The effectiveness of massage in preventing pressure sores: a literature review. Rehabil Nurs. 1997;22:229-234,242.
36 Cooke B, Ernst E. Aromatherapy: a systematic review. Br J Gen Pract. 2000;50:493-496.
37 Eliott MA, Taylor LP. Shiatsu sympathectomy: ICA dissection associated with a shiatsu massager. Neurology . 2002;58:1302-1304.
38 Ernst E. The safety of massage therapy. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2003;42:1101-1106. Epub 2003 May 30.
39 Lawler SP, Cameron LD. A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Ann Behav Med. 2006;32:50-59.
40 Wilkinson SM, Love SB, Westcombe AM, et al. Effectiveness of aromatherapy massage in the management of anxiety and depression in patients with cancer: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol . 2007;25:532-539.
41 Billhult A, Bergbom I, Stener-Victorin E. Massage relieves nausea in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. J Altern Complement Med . 2007;13:53-58.
42 Coelho HF, Boddy K, Ernst E. Massage therapy for the treatment of depression: a systematic review. Int J Clin Pract. 2008;62:325-333.
43 Billhult A, Lindholm C, Gunnarsson R, et al. The effect of massage on cellular immunity, endocrine and psychological factors in women with breast cancer—a randomized controlled clinical trial. Auton Neurosci. 2008 May 10.
44 Wang MY, Tsai PS, Lee PH, et al. The efficacy of reflexology: systematic review. J Adv Nurs. 2008;62:512-520.
45 Mendes EW, Procianoy RS. Massage therapy reduces hospital stay and occurrence of late-onset sepsis in very preterm neonates. J Perinatol. 2008 Jul 17.
46 Wilkinson S, Barnes K, Storey L. Massage for symptom relief in patients with cancer: systematic review. J Adv Nurs. 2008;63:430-439.
47 Kutner JS, Smith MC, Corbin L, et al. Massage therapy versus simple touch to improve pain and mood in patients with advanced cancer: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149:369-379.
48 Furlan AD, Imamura M, Dryden T, Irvin E. Massage for low-back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;CD001929.
49 Chen LL, Su YC, Su CH, Lin HC, Kuo HW. Acupressure and meridian massage: combined effects on increasing body weight in premature infants. J Clin Nurs. 2008;17:1174-1181. Erratum in: J Clin Nurs. 2008;17:2089.
50 Sherman KJ, Ludman EJ, Cook AJ, et al. Effectiveness of therapeutic massage for generalized anxiety disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Depress Anxiety. 2010 May;27(5):441.
51 Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, et al. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(1):1-9.
52 French HP, Brennan A, White B, Cusack T. Manual therapy for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee - a systematic review. Man Ther. 2011;16(2):109-17.
53 Jane SW, Chen SL, Wilkie DJ, et al. Effects of massage on pain, mood status, relaxation, and sleep in Taiwanese patients with metastatic bone pain: a randomized clinical trial. Pain. 2011;152(10):2432-2442.
54 Smith CA, Levett KM, Collins CT, Jones L. Massage, reflexology and other manual methods for pain management in labour. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012;2:CD009290.
55 FitzGerald MP, Payne CK, Lukacz ES, et al. Randomized multicenter clinical trial of myofascial physical therapy in women with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome and pelvic floor tenderness. J Urol. 2012 ;187(6):2113-2118.
56 Fattah MA, Hamdy B. Pulmonary functions of children with asthma improve following massage therapy. J Altern complement Med. 2011;17(11):1065-1068.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2012 -
- Update Date: 03/26/2013 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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