Massage for Pain

Much research has been done to assess the effectiveness of massage for treating many forms of pain. For a lot of the research, the results are proven to be fantastic, especially for those who receive a weekly treatment. In one Seattle based research study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 401 people suffering from nonspecific low back pain were split into groups of those who received weekly massage treatments for ten weeks, and those who received standard care only. Questionnaires for disability and bothersomeness were given at the end of the ten week trial, as well as after 26 and 52 weeks. As can be imagined, not only were the findings significant for reduction of pain in the massage group as compared to the regular care group at the end of the first ten weeks, but even several months later at week 26. By the end of a full year, there was still pain reduction as a result, but less so than at weeks 10 and 26.

Another study reported in The Annals of Family Medicine of 228 patients with neck pain found significant evidence that hour long massages performed 2 or 3 times a week for five weeks were likely to lead to greater than a 30% reduction in pain. Interestingly, this study found that half hour treatments weren’t much more effective than regular care.

The results from a Mayo Clinic study of postoperative heart surgery patients reported, “Statistically and clinically significant decreases in pain, anxiety, and tension scores were observed for patients who received a 20-minute massage compared with those who received standard care. Patient feedback was markedly positive.”

In short, many of us are living with pain unnecessarily. In addition to your regular care by your physician, massage therapy can be an effective way to treat and manage pain when utilized regularly and properly. If you are in pain, ask your doctor if massage is a good idea for you.


Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, 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;155:1-9. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-155-1-201107050-00002

Sherman, K. J., Cook, A. J., Wellman, R. D., Hawkes, R. J., Kahn, J. R., Deyo, R. A., & Cherkin, D. C. (2014). Five-Week Outcomes From a Dosing Trial of Therapeutic Massage for Chronic Neck Pain. Annals of Family Medicine12(2).

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after cardiac surgery: a randomized study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010

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