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Massage helps people recovering from burns, low-back pain: research

May 13, 2014 – Two new independent clinical studies demonstrate that massage therapy eases pain and improves recovery time for people suffering from lower back injuries and burns. The two studies support recent findings from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that found 43 per cent of consumers reported their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous year was for a medical/health care reason. And, physicians play a key role in discussing massage therapy with patients – 48 per cent of respondents indicated they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage.

May 13, 2014  By PRNewswire

“These findings emphasize what professional massage therapists know:
massage is good medicine,” said Nancy Porambo, AMTA president. “Massage
therapy provided by a professional massage therapist is being
increasingly viewed by physicians and their patients as an important
component of integrated care. Nearly nine of 10 American consumers
believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain. And, a growing
body of clinical research continues to validate that.”

In a study
published in the February 2014 edition of Scientific World Journal,
researchers investigated whether chronic low-back pain therapy with
massage therapy alone was as effective as combining it with non-steroid
anti-inflammatory drugs. The study was conducted on 59 individuals
divided into two groups, all of whom suffered from low-back pain and
were diagnosed with degenerative changes of the spine, other
intervertebral disc diseases or spine pain.

In both patient
groups, the pain measured was significantly reduced and the level of
disability showed significant improvement compared to the baseline.
Researchers concluded massage had a positive effect on patients with
chronic low-back pain and propose that the use of massage causes fast
therapeutic results and that, in practice, it could help to reduce the
use of anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of chronic low-back

In a separate study published in the March issue of the
journal Burns, 146 burn patients with scars were randomly divided into
two groups. All patients received standard rehabilitation therapy for
hypertrophic scars – known as raised scars that are typically red, thick
and may be itchy or painful – and 76 patients received additional burn
scar rehabilitation massage therapy.


Both before and after the
treatment, researchers assessed the scar characteristics for thickness,
melanin, erythema, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), sebum and

While both groups showed improvement, the massage
group showed a significant decrease in scar thickness, melanin, erythema
and TEWL. There was a significant intergroup difference in skin
elasticity with the massage group showing substantial improvement.

concluded that burn rehabilitation massage therapy is effective in
improving pain, itching and scar characteristics in hypertrophic scars
after a burn.

“These studies clearly show that massage therapy,
in conjunction with standard treatment, can be a real benefit to
patients,” Porambo said. “We encourage patients with low back pain and
hypertrophic burns to consider what massage therapy may do for them and
to discuss it with their physicians.”

The AMTA’s most recent
consumer survey, published in October, found that physicians play a key
role in discussing massage therapy with patients, as 48 per cent of
respondents indicated they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a

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