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U.S. CAM group outlines evidence supporting use of massage therapy for health

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has released a report outlining evidence of the benefits of massage therapy for health purposes.

In a statement posted on its website, NCCAM director Dr. Josephine Briggs, a medical doctor, urged people to take a look at research evidence showing the health benefits of massage therapy.


February 27, 2014
By Mari-Len De


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“Massage therapy has been around for centuries and continues to be
increasingly popular,” said Briggs. “Researchers have been investigating
the effects of massage therapy on a number of wide-ranging conditions,
and while a lot of the research is preliminary or conflicting, there is
scientific evidence that points toward beneficial effects on back pain.”

In
fact, she said, the American College of Physicians and the American
Pain Society have issued joint clinical practice guidelines that include
massage therapy as one of the nonpharmacologic treatment options that
should be considered for patients with low-back pain who do not improve
on their own.

There is also some evidence that massage therapy
help improve quality of life for people with conditions such as
depression, cancer or HIV/AIDS.

Aside from helping people with
chronic low back pain, massage therapy may also help people suffering
from chronic neck pain, based on results of a 2009 NCCAM-funder clinical
trial. Another study in 2012 revealed the benefits of massage to help
ease the pain of people with osteoarthritis of the knee.

Despite
many evidence of the health benefits of massage when performed by
trained professionals, Briggs noted that some people with certain
conditions should take precautions.

The National Cancer
Institute, for instance, has urged massage therapists to take specific
precautions with cancer patients and avoid massaging: open wounds,
bruises or areas with skin breakdown; directly over the tumor site;
areas with a blood clot in a vein; and sensitive areas following
radiation therapy.

Investigators and common sense also suggest
that massage therapists avoid forceful and deep tissue massage in
patients who have bleeding disorders or low blood platelet counts, are
taking anticoagulant medications such as warfarin, or in any potentially
weak area of the skin such as near wounds, the NCCAM said.

More
information about the scientific evidence supporting massage therapy for
health purposes can be found on the NCCAM website.


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