Massage and Chronic Pain

scarlson By scarlson, 23rd May 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Health Clubs & Spas>Massage

Everyone probably knows at least one person who is suffering from some form of chronic pain. It is a very debilitating and isolating experience because you cannot actually see pain. Massage therapy can be effective in reducing pain.

Pain Statistics

In Canada, one in ten people suffer from chronic pain. According to the 2001 Ipsos Reid National Canadian Pain study, that’s about 31% of Canadians. In the U.S., the American Pain Association estimated that chronic pain affected approximately 86 million Americans (2001).

Can Massage Relieve Pain?

Pain is noted to be the most frequent complaint brought to physicians in North America.
Medical authorities define pain as a subjective feeling that cannot be observed or even measured directly, and it is often explained away by the stress concept or as a result of mental stress. It comes as no surprise then, why so many people seek alternative ways to deal with their pain. In 1997, a U.S. health survey showed that consumers spent between 4 and 6 billion dollars on massage. The American Massage Therapy Association noted that 47% of the people polled in a consumer survey used massage therapy to relieve and manage their pain, and 91% said massage therapy was effective in reducing pain.

Pain Relief

In ancient Greece and Rome, it was actually the physicians who utilised massage as one of the primary methods to treat pain. Today, massage therapists are some of the best trained people to deal with myofascial and musculoskeletal pain syndromes. Massage therapists are trained in anatomy, physiology, and pathology, and they spend many hours physically palpating and manipulating the muscles and soft tissue of the body. Whether it is lower back pain, arthritis or fibromyalgia, massage may be able to relieve the associated pain.

Pain Research

The Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida has conducted over 90 clinical studies on the beneficial effects of massage therapy on a variety of conditions. The following are summaries of some of the studies conducted on the effects of massage therapy on pain:

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis - Parents massaged their arthritic children and found their children experienced less pain and less morning stiffness (Field et al, 1997).

Labor Pain - Massage therapy was given to pregnant women during labor and demonstrated a decrease in anxiety and pain as well as had shorter hospital stays (Field et al, 1997).

Fibromyalgia - Patients with fibromyalgia slept better and had less pain following a month of biweekly massages (Field et al, 2002).

Back Pain - Low back pain was reduced and range of motion was increased after massage therapy (Hernandez-Reif et al, 2001).


The exciting part about all of this research is that it gives a renewed sense of hope for chronic pain sufferers. There is something that can be done, and research has clearly shown that massage therapy is one way to alleviate pain, either alone, or in conjunction with another form of therapy. As there are always differences in individual experiences of pain, it is always advisable to consult with your physician for diagnosis and treatment advice.

© Copyright, Sylvia Carlson, 2006. Reproduction without permission prohibited. Previously published by


Chronic Myofascial Pain, Chronic Pain, Massage, Massage Therapy, Muscle Pain, Pain Relief

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author avatar Denise O
24th Sep 2012 (#)

I love that you pointed out that we are all the same, yet different, no matter the illness. Nice read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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