Americans rate massage therapy as highly as medication for the treatment of pain according to a 2005 survey commissioned by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and conducted by the an independent research firm Opinion Research Corp. International in Princeton, N.J.
According to the survey, one in five U.S. adults received a form of massage therapy within the past year and three quarters of respondents would highly recommend it to others. Among those who had received a massage within the past year, 28% said massage therapy provided them with the greatest relief from pain while 28% reported medication provided them with the best relief. Chiropractic care came in third place at 11%, with physical therapy at 8%, 3% for acupuncture and 1% best responding to biofeedback.
- 90% of Americans feel massage therapy is good for a person’s health and well being.
- 93% agree that massage therapy can be effective for pain relief.
- Use of massage therapy in people 65 and older had tripled from 4% in 1997 to 15% in 2005 and is now closer to 19%.
- 22% of Americans had received a massage in the past year; 34% had a massage therapy in the last five years.
- 73% of those surveyed who had massage therapy would recommend it to someone they know.
- 46% of respondents at some time had received massage therapy to relieve pain.
- Among respondents who discussed massage therapy with their primary healthcare provider, 57% reported their health professional highly recommended massage therapy or encouraged them to get a massage.
A Whole-Body Approach to Pain Management
“One of the things about massage that helps pain is that it goes down to the heart of where people feel their pain. – There is the overall sense of well-being one can get from the massage approach. And the stress responses in the body associated with pain, such as elevated cortisol, are reduced through massage.”
~ American Massage Therapy Association Vice President – M.K. Brennan, RN, LMBT
People with chronic pain frequently look to massage therapy for natural health that improves their quality of life. Tiffany Field, Ph.D., – Director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida Notes:
“Most people go to massage therapists to reduce pain. There’s a release of serotonin, which is the body’s natural production of anti-pain chemicals. Additionally, an aggravating factor in pain syndromes can be a lack of deep, restorative sleep. Massage is very effective at increasing deep sleep. With more deep sleep, you have less pain.”
Arthritis and fibromyalgia are two chronic pain conditions where massage therapy is shown to have a positive impact. In a recent study regarding the use massage therapy for chronic knee osteoarthritis, the participants who received massage therapy showed a significant improvement in not only their pain, but also in stiffness and physical function. They reported an increase in their range of motion and a reduction in the time it took to walk 50 feet.
In another study, people with arthritis in their hands and wrists reported reduced pain and stronger grip strength after receiving massage therapy. They also noted lower anxiety and had elevated mood scores.
For people looking for more natural ways to manage chronic pain, massage therapy has been shown to improve quality of life – by management of the pain, impacting mood and a multitude other benefits. When you’re living with chronic pain, it’s important to have a toolbox of strategies you can turn to for pain relief. Massage therapy has been show to be a powerful tool for relaxing not only the body, but the mind.
Benefits of Massage Therapy for Chronic Pain Management
- Increases serotonin, for natural pain relief
- Proven to naturally increase deep sleep
- Increases range of motion
- Improves mood and lowers anxiety