Massage Therapy and Chronic Conditions

Massage therapy is a popular type of alternative treatment in traditional forms of medicine practiced in China, Japan, India, and Egypt.  As a means to prevent conditions arising from physical, mental, and emotional stress, and to complement a treatment for a particular ailment, massage therapy is preferred because it offers a non-invasive means to achieve wellness and good health.  It is also often recommended and used by individuals suffering from chronic conditions.

The use of massage therapy is well-documented and supported.  In China and India, massage was used as far back as 4,000 years ago.  It was considered for its therapeutic properties in the West in 400 BC and was supported by medical practitioners in the U.S. in the 19th century.  It declined in use only in the 1940s when pharmaceutical drugs and medications became prevalent.  It has increased in popularity recently, thanks to an alternative medical practice review in the 1994 publication of the National Institute of Health and the use of massages in the field of health care.

Treating Chronic Conditions with Massage

Massage therapy, in its many forms, is considered an excellent preventative and complementary treatment for many chronic conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, bursitis, premenstrual syndrome and menstrual cramping, high blood pressure and asthma, among others.

Massage therapy has also shown positive results among patients suffering from dementia, and those who have burn injuries.  It is also frequently used among patients suffering from the effects of chemotherapy.

Benefits of Massage Therapy for Patients with Chronic Conditions

Massage therapy is non-invasive, and does not require drugs or other medications and can be relatively affordable.  Depending on the preferred technique, massages can vary from light to moderate to deep tissue manipulation.

Massage therapy is known to aid in blood circulation, which in turn helps relieve muscular pain and tension, two of the most common complaints in many chronic conditions.  It also helps improve joint flexibility and improve posture, relieving the spine of pain and pressure associated with slouching and improper posture.

Touch therapy is also beneficial in that it allows the patient to relax, sleep better, prevent stress and anxiety, and enjoy the feeling of being taken care of.  Some, such as shiatsu and reflexology, also incorporate acupressure.  Acupressure works on the principles of neurophysiology, wherein it is believed that a good balance of energies in the body results to good health.  Any imbalance can lead to ailments, such as those caused by chronic conditions.  By correcting this imbalance, not only are the symptoms associated with chronic conditions relieved, overall wellbeing and health is also achieved.

Does Massage Therapy Truly Work?

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the American Massage Therapy Association consider massage therapy an important priority issue for research.  There are still only a few research studies regarding massage therapy but due to standards and research infrastructure set by the aforementioned groups, better research quality is gradually being made available.

The use of massage therapy has also had positive results, as reported by a study that appeared in the American Psychotherapy Association in late 2004.  (Kuhn, M, Jones, C, Krause, C, Curtin, K.  Massage Therapy: Clinical Applications for Individuals Dealing with Multiple Chronic Conditions.  Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association.  September 22. 2004)  It was used to treat patients with chronic lower back pain, who reported feeling less pain, achieved better flexibility, and improved sleep quality.  The same report also cited a 1997 study that involved children with rheumatoid arthritis who underwent massage therapy and reported reduced incidences and severity of pain.  An earlier study made in 1984 involved patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain.  After receiving regular massage sessions, they reported a reduction in pain, which allowed them to decrease their use of painkilling drugs.

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