Nearly nine out of ten Americans believe massage is effective in treating pain, according to a new survey that also found doctors are increasingly recommending massage therapy to their patients.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 75 percent of the people questioned said the main reason they get a massage is to treat a medical condition. Nearly half seek relief from pain, soreness, stiffness, injury recovery and migraines. About a third say they get a massage to relieve stress.
“The findings from this year’s survey display a growing sense of awareness among consumers about massage being an effective tool for a variety of health conditions,” said Cynthia Ribeiro, AMTA president. “Physicians are recommending massage therapy to their patients for stress-related tension, pain relief and injuries, as well as to help maintain overall health and wellness.”
Results of the survey appear to support that conclusion. Helf of those questioned said that their doctor had either strongly recommended or encouraged them to get a massage.
“A growing body of evidence shows that massage therapy can be effective for a variety of health conditions and massage is rapidly becoming recognized as an important part of health and wellness,” said Keri Peterson, MD, an internal medicine physician.
“Many of my patients come to me with chronic pain including back and knee pain, as well as migraines and injuries after exercise. I am now referring more people than ever to meet with massage therapists as an alternative, before considering surgery or prescribing prescriptions.”
Despite those benefits, getting people to actually see a masseuse is a challenge. The study found that only 18% of American adults get a massage at least once a year.
About one thousand people were involved in the telephone survey, equally split between men and women, 18 years and older.
The AMTA says that recent research also shows that massage therapy can improve the quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia, reduce muscle inflammation and help relieve chronic lower back pain.
Another study supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine appeared to show that a 60-minute Swedish massage once a week significantly reduced pain for people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Massage therapy begins with the use of long, kneading strokes focused on the areas of soft tissue that are causing a person discomfort. The manipulation of that muscle provides relief by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues. It is thought to help the body’s stress response by lowering levels of hormones such as cortisol.