In massage therapy (a manipulative and body-based practice Manipulative and Body-Based Practices Complementary or alternative medicine can be classified into five major categories of practice: Whole medical systems Mind-body techniques Biologically based practices Manipulative and body-based... read more ), body tissues are manipulated to reduce pain, relieve muscle tension, and reduce stress. Massage therapy involves a variety of light-touch and deep-touch techniques, from stroking and kneading (as used in Swedish massage) to applying pressure to specific points (as used in Shiatsu, acupressure, and neuromuscular massage). (See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Integrative medicine and health (IMH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include a variety of healing approaches and therapies that historically have not been included in conventional... read more .)
Massage therapists help the musculoskeletal and nervous systems of the body. Other healing effects of massage include the benefits of relaxation and human touch, basic needs that are unmet in the lives of many people. The therapeutic value of massage for many musculoskeletal symptoms is widely accepted. Massage has been shown to help or relieve symptoms in the following:
Pain (for example, postoperative, chronic, musculoskeletal, end-of-life care, pelvic, labor, burns, in dementia)
Mood disorders (for example, anxiety, depression)
Mood and symptoms in people with cancer (for example, pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety, lymphatic drainage)
Symptoms in preterm infants (for example, to promote sleep, growth and weight gain, and digestive health)
HIV/AIDS (for example, quality of life, stress, immune function)
Parkinson disease symptoms, (for example, sleep disturbances, pain, fatigue, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and stiffness)
Possible side effects
Precautions for massage therapy and other therapies that involve manipulation of tissues include the following:
Minor discomfort or temporary worsening of symptoms
Massage can cause bruising and bleeding in people at risk.
Pressure should not be directly put on bones affected by osteoporosis or cancer that has spread to the bones (metastatic cancer).
The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): Massage Therapy for Health Purposes