Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are a health care professional

honeypot link

Massage Therapy


Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Oct 2021
Click here for Patient Education

In massage therapy (a manipulative and body-based practice Manipulative and Body-Based Practices Five categories of complementary or alternative medicine are generally recognized: Whole medical systems Mind-body medicine Biologically based practices not usually used in conventional medicine... read more ), body tissues are manipulated to reduce pain, relieve muscle tension, and reduce stress. The therapeutic value of massage for many musculoskeletal symptoms is widely accepted. Massage has been shown to help or relieve symptoms in the following:

Massage can cause bruising and bleeding in patients with thrombocytopenia or bleeding disorders. Therapists must avoid putting pressure on bones affected by osteoporosis or metastatic cancer.


  • 1. Juneau AL, Aita M, Héon M: Review and critical analysis of massage studies for term and preterm infants. Neonatal Netw 34(3):165-77, 2015. doi: 10.1891/0730-0832.34.3.165

  • 2. Álvarez MJ, Fernández D, Gómez-Salgado J: The effects of massage therapy in hospitalized preterm neonates: A systematic review. Int J Nurs Stud 69:119-136, 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2017.02.009

  • 3. Badr LK, Abdallah B, Kahale L: A meta-analysis of preterm infant massage: an ancient practice with contemporary applications. MCN Am J Matern Child Nurs 40(6):344-58, 2015. doi: 10.1097/NMC.0000000000000177

  • 4. Hillier SL, Louw Q, Morris L, et al: Massage therapy for people with HIV/AIDS. Cochrane Database Syst Rev(1):CD007502, 2010. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007502.pub2

  • 5. Angelopoulou E, Anagnostouli M, Chrousos GP, et al: Massage therapy as a complementary treatment for Parkinson's disease: a systematic literature review. Complement Ther Med 49:102340, 2020. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102340

Click here for Patient Education
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
Professionals also read
Test your knowledge
Options for Limb Prostheses
A patient with recent upper extremity amputation just below the elbow comes to the office for consultation regarding choices for a prosthesis. During the interview, the patient says that she would like to continue to work in construction and would most likely need a prosthesis that is inexpensive, durable, and requires little maintenance. Which of the following is the most appropriate prosthesis to recommend to this patient?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest