Recent Research

Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

"Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are lessened following massage therapy" was conducted by staff at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, FL. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pain, tingling, burning and numbness of the hand. Sixteen people diagnosed with this syndrome participated in the study. All of them held jobs involving heavy word processing or computer work. Subjects were randomly assigned to either the standard-treatment control group or the massage-therapy group. Those in the massage group received one massage per week on the affected arm for four weeks. They were also instruct3ed in self-massage, which they were to perform each night before bed. Subjects in the control group received no intervention, but were taught the massage routine after the study ended.
Physicians evaluated participants' carpal tunnel symptoms, such as tingling, numbness, pain, and strength, at the beginning and end of the four week study. A nerve conduction test on the median nerve was also performed at the start and finish of the study. Assessments were also made before and after the massage sessions on the first and last days of the study including the Perceived Grip Strength Scale, pain assessment scale, state anxiety inventory, and the Profile of Mood States. Results of the study showed that the subjects in the massage group had significantly less pain and reduced carpal tunnel symptoms, less nerve compression through the nerve conduction test and increased grip strength.
This study was conducted by Tiffany Field, Ph.D.; Miguel Diego; Christy Cullen; Kristen Hartshorn; Alan Gruskin; Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D.; and William Sunshine. It was originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2004, Vol. 8, pp. 9-14.

 

Trager Work Reduces Headache Frequency

"The trager approach in the treatment of chronic headache: A pilot study" was conducted by staff at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, CA. Twenty-nine people ages 18-65 with histories of chronic headaches, at least one per week for at least six months, participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups: the medication-only, no-treatment control group; the medication and attention control group; or the medication and Trager treatment group. Throughout the six-week study, subjects in the medication-only, no-treatment group continued their normal routine, with no visits to a health-care provider. Subjects in the attention group visited their physicians for 15-20 minutes once a week for six weeks to discuss their headaches, medication intake, level of well-being and other concerns. The physician also performed an exam of the head and neck at each appointment. Participants assigned to the Trager group received a one-hour Trager session each week for six weeks. The sessions focused on areas of tension and restricted motion in the headache sufferers, typically in areas such as  the head, neck, upper back and shoulders. The Trager approach is an educational, movement-based therapy that aims to increase body awareness and relaxation, and teach clients pain-free, balanced movement.
All subjects were required to keep a headache diary that detailed frequency, duration and intensity of headaches, as well as headache-related use of medication, starting two weeks before the six-week study period and continuing through the end of the study.  Participants also completed a Headache Quality of Life Questionnaire (HQOL) at the beginning and end of the study. Results of the study showed a significant decrease in the frequency of headaches for subjects in the Trager group, along with a significant improvement in HQOL and a 44-percent decrease in the mean use of medication.
This research was performed by Kimberly A. Foster, M.D.; Jack Liskin; Steven Cen; Allan Abbott, M.D.; Valeska Armisen, M.D.; Denise Globe, Ph.D.; Lyndee Knox, Ph.D.; Miles Mitchell, M.D.; Corina Shtir; and Stanley Azen, Ph.D. It was originally published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, September/October 2004, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp. 40-5.

 

Massage for Long Term Pain

"A randomized Clinical Trial of the Treatment Effects of Massage Compared to Relaxation Tape Recordings on diffuse Long-Term Pain" was conducted in Sweden. One-hundred-seventeen subjects with long-term diffuse musculoskeletal pain participated in this study. Each subject had pain that had lasted for at least 3 months and was not caused by a specific disease or condition. Participants were randomized to either a massage or relaxation group. Subjects in the massage group received anywhere from six to ten massages, each lasting 30 minutes. Subjects received the massages one to three times per week. Participants received an average of seven massages. One person administered all massages, and each session adjusted to meet subjects' individual pain thresholds. Subjects in the relaxation group listened to a relaxation tape twice a week for five weeks. The tape instructed them to tense and relax the muscle groups and breathe slowly and regularly.

Questionnaires regarding the subjects' age, gender, smoking habits, country of birth, marital status and profession were filled out before, immediately after and three months following the study. A self-rated health questionnaire and rating scales for mental energy and muscle pain were also administered at these times. Results of the study showed that, during treatment, there was a significant improvement in self-rated health, mental energy and muscle pain for subjects in the massage group as compared to those in the relaxation group.

For all three outcome measures, massage was significantly more effective during treatment. However, at the three-month follow-up evaluation, these improved scores had reverted back to their initial levels.

This research was conducted by Dan Hasson, Bengt Arentz, Lena Jelveus and Bo Edelstam. It was published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2004, Vol. 73, pp. 17-24.

Regular Sauna Use Reduces Oxidative Stress

"Repeated Sauna Therapy Reduces Urinary 8-Epi-Prostaglandin F2a" was conducted in Japan. Twenty-eight subjects with at least one coronary risk factor participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to either the sauna group or the non-sauna group. Subjects in the sauna group were placed supine in a 140-degree-Fahrenheit dry sauna for 15 minutes. After the sauna, they rested on a bed with a blanket for 30 minutes. This occurred once a day for two weeks. Subjects in the non-sauna group were placed in supine position in a 75-degree-Fahrenheit room for 45 minutes a day for two weeks.

The coronary risk factors measured were body weight, heart rate, blood pressure, hematocrit, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides fasting plasma glucose and urinary 8-Epi-Prostaglandin F2a. All subjects were admitted to the same hospital and ate the same meals throughout the two-week study period. On admission and after two weeks, urine samples were taken at 7 a.m. after an overnight fast, and the urinary 8-Epi-Prostaglandin F2a levels were measured by enzyme immunoassay, a method that allows for the identification of a substance by causing a color  reaction. Results of the study showed that urinary 8-Epi-Prostaglandin F2a levels, a marker of oxidative stress, had decreased significantly for the sauna group after two weeks and sere significantly lower than the levels of subjects in the non-sauna group. Systolic blood pressure in the sauna group had also decreased significantly after two weeks, and it was significantly lower than that of the non-sauna group after two weeks.

This study was conducted by Akinori Masuda, M.D.; Masaaki Kiyata, M.D.; Takashi Kihara, M.D.; Shinichi Minagoe, M.D.; and Chuwa Tei, M.D.. It was published in Japanese Heart Journal, 2004, Vol. 45, pp. 297-303.

Foot-and-Hand Massage Eases Postoperative Pain

"Foot and Hand Massage as an Intervention for Postoperative Pain" was conducted by Hsiao-Lan Wang, RN., and Juanita R. Keck, R.N. at Clarion Health partners Methodist Hospital and Indiana University School of Nursing, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Eighteen subjects who underwent surgery participated in this study the day after their operations. Participants were age 20 or older, and recovering from gastrointestinal, gynecological, urological, head, neck or plastic surgery. They each received pain medication one-to-four hours before the massage intervention and had asked for an intervention to relieve their pain the day after surgery. All subjects reported that the surgical wound was the area that hurt most. Pain intensity and distress scores, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure were measured before and after the 20-minute massage. Subjects were also asked to rate the percentage of pain relief from the pain medication before the massage and the percentage of pain relief from the massage following the intervention. The same person provided the foot-and-hand massage to all participants.

Perceived pain intensity, perceived distress, and perceived pain relief from both the pain medication and the massage intervention were measured. Results of the study showed significant reductions in both pain intensity and distress after the 20-minute massage, as well as significant decreases in heart rate and respiratory rate, but not systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

This study was published in Pain Management Nursing, June 2004, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp  59-65.

 Aromatherapy and Massage Improve Sleep in Advanced Cancer Patients

"A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting" was conducted  in United Kingdom. Forty-two subjects diagnosed with cancer were randomly assigned to receive either massage with lavender essential oil and an inert carrier oil; massage with an inert carrier oil only; or no massage. Subjects in the massage groups received a 30-minute standardized back massage once a week for four weeks. Subjects in the no-massage group-the control group-completed the researchers' questionnaires and assessments, but received no intervention. Evaluations took place at the beginning and end of the study, they measured pain intensity, sleep scale and the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist. Evaluations of pain, sleep and the Hospital and Anxiety Depression scale also took place on a weekly basis.

Results of the study showed that subjects in both massage groups had significantly better sleep scores than subjects in the control group at the end of the study. The study also showed a statistically significant reduction in pain for both the massage groups following the second massage treatment, but no long-term pain reduction at the end of the study. There were no statistically significant long-term differences among groups for either the Hospital Anxiety and depression scale or the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist. Subject in the massage-only group, however, had significantly better scores on the hospital Anxiety and Depression scale after the second and fourth massage sessions.

This study was conducted by Katie Soden, Karen Vincent, Stephen Craske, Caroline Lucas and Sue Ashley. It was published in Palliative Medicine, 2004, No. 18, pp. 87-92.

Moderate-Pressure Massage Increased Relaxation

"Massage therapy of moderate and light pressure and vibrator effects on EEG and heart rate" was conducted by staff at the University of Miami School of Medicine Touch Research Institute, in Miami, Florida to compare the effects of these three types of touch. Participants were randomly assigned to receive moderate-pressure massage, light-pressure massage or vibratory massage, using Thumper massage tool on the deep-pressure setting at 40Hz. Subjects in all groups received 10 minutes of stimulation to the back, shoulders and arms, while remaining fully clothed in a massage chair. Before the stimulation began, an EEG cap was placed along the arms, and subjects completed the following assessments: demographic questionnaire, State Anxiety Inventory, Visual Analogue Stress/Relaxation Scale, and the Touch Aversion Questionnaire. There was then a three-minute baseline period before the start of the 10-minute stimulation, followed by three minutes post-session. Subjects then completed the State Anxiety Inventory and the Visual Analogue Stress/Relaxation Scale once again.

Results of the study showed that anxiety decreased for all three groups, but subjects in the moderate-pressure group showed the greatest decrease in self-reported stress. Those who received moderate-pressure massage also showed the greatest shift toward left frontal EEG asymmetry, which indicates a positive response to the stimulation. This group experienced a significant decrease in heart rate during and after the massage, while the light-massage group showed a significant increase in heart rate following the session. The vibratory massage group showed a marginal increase in heart rate after the massage.

This study was conducted by Miguel A. Diego, Tiffany Field, Ph.D., Chris Sanders, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D. It was published in International Journal of Neuroscience, 2004, Vol. 114, pp. 31-45.

Acupressure Eases Dyspnoea

"Effectiveness of acupressure in improving dyspnoea shortness of breath - in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" was conducted in Taiwan. The study involved 44 subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Subjects' average age was 73, and most of them were men. The participants were randomly assigned to either a true-acupressure group or a sham-acupressure group. Both groups had five sessions of acupressure per week, 16 minutes per session, for four weeks, for a total of 20 sessions. In the true-acupressure group, the acupressure protocol involved the following acu-points: GV14, CV22, B13, B23 and L10. In the sham-acupressure group, the acupressure protocol involved the following acupoints which are used to promote intestinal movement: Sp5, Sp3, and Liv1. Activity, fatigue and dyspnoea were rated at the beginning and end of the study. Subjects also rated their levels of anxiety associated with dyspnoea using the State Anxiety Inventory at the start and finish of the study, and took a six-minute walking distance test as well, to evaluate tolerance of activity. Oxygen saturation in the finger of each participant was measured before and after each acupressure session using a pulse oximeter.

Mean scores showed that dyspnoea in the true-acupressure group decreased significantly after the intervention and that fatigue levels for this group improved significantly, as compared to the sham-acupressure group. Results of the State Anxiety Inventory showed that, on average, anxiety was significantly lower in the true-acupressure group than the sham group at the conclusion of the study. Subjects in the true-acupressure group also improved significantly on the six-minute walking test, indicating that they had more tolerance for activity than the sham group. Mean oxygen-saturation scores for the true-acupressure group were significantly greater than the sham group following each acupressure session.

This study was conducted by Hua Shan Wu, R.N.; Shiao-Chi Wu, Ph.D.; Juang-Geng Lin, Ph.D.; and Li-Chan Lin, Ph.D.,R.N. It was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2004, Vol. 45, No.3, pp. 252-9.

Overall, Massage is Effective

"A Meta-Analysis of Massage Therapy Research" was conducted by Christopher A. Moyer, James Rounds and James W. Hannum at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Educational Psychology. Studies that were included in the analysis had to meet a number of criteria, such as the use of a bodywork modality consistent with the definition of massage as "the manual manipulation of soft tissue to promote health and well-being". Each study also had to compare a massage therapy group with one or more non-massage control groups; use random group assignment; and report enough data for "a between groups effect size to be generated on at least one dependent variable of interest". The 37 studies selected for the analysis used a total of 1,802 participants. Of these, 795 received massage therapy and 1,007 received a comparison treatment.

Researchers looked at nine dependent outcome variables among the studies, to see if the results would show consistent improvement with massage therapy. The short-term outcomes analyzed were state anxiety, negative mood, pain assessed immediately after massage, heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels. The long term effects analyzed were trait anxiety, depression and delayed assessment of pain. Sate anxiety is temporary and situation-specific, while trait anxiety is the innate tendency to be anxious. The mean results of the 37 studies showed significant reductions in state anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate, trait anxiety, depression and delayed assessment of pain. Mean results for negative mood, immediate assessment of pain and cortisol were not significant. Massage therapy's most powerful effect, according to the combined results of the studies, were the reduction of trait anxiety and depression.

This study was published in Psychological Bulletin 2004, Vol. 130, No. 1, pp. 3-18.

Spa Therapy for Osteoarthritis

"Clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness evidence of SPA therapy in osteoarthritis" was conducted in Italy. The study focused on the role of spa therapy in easing osteoarthritis. they observed people with osteoarthritis over the course of two years. Initially, there were 11,437 subjects in the study, but the total number of subjects assessed overall was 6,111. Each participant experienced one annual cycle of bal-neotherapy and mud-pack applications and mineral baths. the study took place in 98 Italian spas, and subjects were randomly assigned to receive baths of either sulphurous water, sodium chloride-bromide-iodide water, sulphate water or biocarbonate water. Participants with general osteoarthritis, involving three or more joints groups, were given a combination of daily mud packs applied to the whole body for 15-20 minutes, followed by a mineral-water bath for 12-15 minutes. Other subjects received mud packs on the affected joints for 20 minutes, followed by a mineral-water bath for 12-15 minutes. Four assessments were performed by the same physician: one at baseline, before the first spa cycle; one a year later, before the start of the second cycle; and one immediately after the second cycle. Outcome variables measured were pain, functional ability, use of symptomatic drugs, number of hospitalizations and missed workdays due to osteoarthritis , and the sue of physical or alternative therapy during the one-year period before and the second spa cycle.

Results showed significant improvements for all the outcome variables, regardless of what type of water was used. the improvements persisted throughout the two-year study span. The percentage of subjects who used osteoarthritis medication and physical or alternative therapy decreased significantly after both cycles of spa therapy, along with the number of hospitalizations and missed workdays, as well.

This research was carried out by A. Fioravanti, M. Valenti, E. Altobelli, F. Di Orio, G. Nappi, A Crisanti, L. Cantarini and R. Marcolongo. It was published in Panminerva Medica 2003, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 211-7.

Massage Improves Mood, Reduces Stress in Spouses of Cancer Patients

"The Effects of Therapeutic Back Massage on Psychophysiological variables and Immune Function in Spouses of Patients with Cancer" was conducted by Linda M. Goodfellow, Ph.D., R.N. at the Duquesne University School of Nursing in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Forty-two spouses, male and female, of patients with cancer participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to either the massage group or the control group. Spouses in the massage group received one 20-minute back massage, consisting of long, slow strokes that produced a "sedative-like effect" on the subject. Spouses in the control group read from an emotionally neutral book for  20 minutes. They each received a back massage after the study ended. Outcome variables were mood, perceived stress, heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and natural-killer-cell activity. Natural killer cells are effective against virus-infected cells. The outcomes were measured at three different time points: before the back massage or reading session, immediately after the back massage or reading session, and 20 minutes after the back massage or reading session. The outcome measures included Mood States, Stress and blood work.

Immediately following the massage, and 20 minutes thereafter, spouses in the massage group showed a significant decrease in total mood disturbance and significant decrease in perceived stress. no significant changes were found for heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, or natural-killer-cell activity. However, a correlation was made between mood and natural-killer-cell activity. Spouses with a high score for negative mood on the Mood States had lower levels of natural-killer-cell activity. Spouses with a lower score for negative mood had higher levels of natural-killer-cell activity. This revealed a significant inverse relationship between mood and natural-killer-cell activity.

The study was published in Nursing Research, September/October 2003, Vol. 52, No. 5, pp. 318-28.

 

 

 

 

 

Past Articles

Massage and Healing Touch Ease Cancer Symptoms

"Therapeutic Massage Healing Touch Improve Symptoms in Cancer" was conducted by staff at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and United Hospital Department of Integrative Health in St. Paul, Minnesota. Eighty-seven percent of the 164 subjects in the study were women. More than half of them had breast cancer; other types of cancers prevalent in the study were gynecological  or genitourinary cancer, gastro-intestinal cancer and lung cancer. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the three groups: Massage therapy, healing touch or caring presence. They received 45 minutes of the assigned intervention per week for four weeks. All participants also received four weeks of standard cancer care alone, which was the control condition.

Immediate outcomes, measured before and after each intervention session, or once per control session, were heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and self-reports of pain and nausea. Outcomes evaluated at the beginning and end of each four-week period were anxiety, mood, fatigue, pain, nausea, use of analgesics and antiemetics, and overall satisfaction with care. Both massage therapy and healing touch reduced blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate, total mood disturbance and pain. Subjects n the healing-touch group also had lower fatigue, while subjects in the massage group had lower anxiety and used less non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Caring presence was found to reduce respiratory rate and heart rate, but did not differ from standard care on any other outcomes.

The study's authors stated that "Massage Therapy and Healing Touch were more effective than presence alone or standard care in inducing physical relaxation, reducing pain, improving mood states and fatigue." and "These results clearly suggest a benefit to both Massage and Healing Touch that goes beyond the mere presence of a caring practitioner."

This study was conducted by Janice Post-White, R.N., Ph.D.; Mary Ellen Kinney, R.N.; Kay Savik; Joanna Bernsten Gau, R.N.; Carol Wilcox, R.N.; and Irving Lerner, M.D. It was published in Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2003, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 332-44.

Five Days of Massage Benefit Preterm Infants

Staff at the Touch research Institutes, University of Miami School of Medicine; and the Center for Prenatal Assessment Human Development, Emory University conducted "Stable Preterm Infants Gain More Weight and Sleep Less after Five Days of Massage Therapy"

Infants were randomly assigned to either the massage-therapy group or the control group. Sixteen infants, approximately three weeks old, were in each group. Massage therapy started the day after group assignment and continued for five consecutive days. Each day, the first 15-minute massage happened about one hour after the morning feeding; the second happened about one half-hour after the midday feeding; and the third happened approximately 45 minutes after the second massage. The massage session comprised five minutes of tactile stimulation, five minutes off kinesthetic stimulation and then another five minutes of tactile stimulation. Data  on weight gain, formula intake, kilocalories, bowel movements and sleep/wake behavior of the infants in the massage-therapy group were taken from daily nursing notes and compared with the controlled group.

Results showed that the massage-therapy group gained an average of 26 grams more per day than the control group, a 53-percent greater average daily weight gain than the control infants. The massage-therapy group also led to a significant reduction in sleep states and an increase in drowsiness. Along with the statistically significant increase in drowsiness, authors stated that the massage therapy infants may reflect acceleration in the developmental course of sleep/wake patterns in preterm infants.

The study was conducted by John N.I. Dieter, Ph.D.; Tiffany Field, Ph.D.; Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D.; Eugene K.Emory, Ph.D.; and Mercedes Redzepi, Psy.D. It was published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 2003, Vol. 28, No. 6,pp. 403-11.

Massaging Kids lowers Parents' Anxiety

"A Training and Support Program for caregivers of children disabilities" was conducted in England. Eighty-two children and their caregivers, the majority of whom were mothers, participated in the study. The children ranged in age from newborn to 16 years old and had a wide variety of disabilities, from mild colic to cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy and chromosomal disorders.

The training and support program involved parents learning a simple massage routine they could give their kids at home. Parents received one hour of massage instruction per week for eight weeks. One massage therapist worked with each child-giver pair throughout the eight-week program. The Parents were also provided with a training pack that included a list of contraindications, instructions on techniques, diagrams and photographs. Questionnaires assessing parents' levels of anxiety, depression and self-efficacy were distributed immediately before and after the program, and again 16 weeks later. Qualitative data evaluating parents' perceptions of their children's well-being and changes in symptoms were collected from home record sheets completed by parents and monitoring forms completed by therapist.

Results showed that their own anxiety levels were significantly lower. The caregivers perceived that their children were eating and sleeping better, were more mobile, had increased bowel movements and body awareness, were more calm and relaxed, and that they found the massage enjoyable.

This research was conducted in Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Health, Coventry University, West Midlands, England. by Lesley Cullen, Ph.D., and Julie Barlow, Ph.D.

Reflexology Relieves Symptoms of MS

Staff at Department of Orthopedic rehabilitation, complementary Medicine Clinic and the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Sheba Medical Center in Tel-Hashomer, Israel; and the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research. Seventy-one people with multiple sclerosis were randomly assigned to receive either reflexology or control treatment for 45 minutes once a week, for 11 weeks. Fifty-three of the subjects completed the study. Thirty-six reflexologists participated in the study, each treating one reflexology and one control subject. The reflexology sessions consisted of manual pressure on specific points of the feet and massage of the calf area. The control sessions consisted of nonspecific massage of the calf area and sham treatment to control for the control of touch and relaxation.

Outcome measures were the mean intensity of sensory deficits, urinary symptoms, sum muscle strength of the ilioposas (hip flexor), quadriceps, hamstrings and adductors ( inner thigh) muscles; and spasticity. A masked assessment was performed before the study period; at the start of the study period; six weeks into the study; and at the end of 11 weeks and 3 months after the study ended. The results showed that there were significant improvements at the end of the study period for scored of sensory deficits, urinary symptoms and spasticity. Muscle strength scores for the reflexology group showed borderline improvement. The improvement in the intensity of sensory deficit remained significant at the 3 month follow-up. Subjects in the control group showed no significant improvements on any of the outcome measures.

This study is performed by Siev-Ner; D. Gamus; L. Lerner-Geva; and A. Achiron. The detail of the study can be found in Multiple Sclerosis, 2003, Vol. 9, pp. 356-61.

 

Massage Versus Relaxation for Breast Cancer

Fifty-eight women diagnosed within the last three years with early-stage breast cancer, at least three months post-surgery and finished with radiation and chemotherapy, were randomly assigned to either a massage-therapy group, a relaxation-therapy group or a standard-treatment control group. Relaxation therapy was used to discover whether massage benefits women with breast cancer simply because it's relaxing, or if it is the massage itself that produces positive effects. Women assigned to the massage-therapy group received 30-minute massages per week for five weeks. Women in the relaxation group self-administered three 30-minute progressive-muscle-relaxation sessions per week for 5 weeks. Women in the control group received standard breast-cancer treatment.

On the first and the last days of the study, the women were evaluated for both immediate and long-term effects of the sessions on depression, anger, anxiety, vigor and pain. Urine and blood samples were taken at the beginning and end of the study to measure dopamine and natural-killer-cell levels. Natural-killer cells are known to be effective against virus-infected cells and various types of tumors cells. Results of the study showed that both the massage and relaxation groups had lower levels of depression, anxiety and pain immediately after the sessions, as compared to the standard-treatment control group. However, it was only women in the massage group who experienced long-term reduction in anxiety. It was also the massage-therapy group alone that showed a significant increase in dopamine and natural-killer-cell-levels from the first to last day of the study.

This study was conducted by Maria Hernandez-Rief, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D., Gail Ironson, M.D., Julia Beutler, Yanexy Vera, Judith Hurley, M.D., Mary Ann Fletcher, Ph.D., Saul Schanberg, M.D., Ph.D., and Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D..

 

Soft-Tissue Massage for Shoulder Pain

Twenty-nine subjects who had been referred to Concord Hospital for management of shoulder pain participated in the study. Their medical diagnoses varied, but impingement, rotator-cuff tear and unspecified shoulder pain were the most common diagnoses. Fourteen of the participants were randomly assigned to the control group, where they were placed on a waiting list for massage and received no treatment for two weeks. Fifteen of the participants were randomly assigned to the massage group, where they received six sessions of soft-tissue massage around the shoulder for two weeks. The massage lasted 15-20 minutes each session. Active range of motion was evaluated before and after the study. Pain was assessed as well as functional ability; both before and after the study period.

Subjects in the control group showed no significant improvements from the beginning to the end of the two-week period. Subjects in the massage group showed significant improvements in all measures. Subjects in the massage group also reported decreased pain and improved function.

This study was conducted by Paul A. van den Dolder and David L. Roberts. It is published in the Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 2003, Vol. 49, pp. 183-8.

 

Massage Benefits Hospitalized Cancer Patients

Forty-one patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer participated in the study, "Outcomes of Therapeutic massage for Hospitalized Cancer Patients". during a 16-month period. Ninety-five percent of the participants were men. Subjects had lymph, lung, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, head and neck, leukemia, breast or skin cancers. Throughout the first eight months of the study, 20 patients on the oncology unit received massage therapy. One nurse provided the massage, which consisted of 15 to 30 minutes of light Swedish techniques, varying slightly according to each patient's medical needs. Subjects received the massage, in their hospital bed, three times during a one-week hospital stay. Throughout the last eight months of the study, 21 patients received 20 minutes of nurse interaction, a control condition to account for personal attention received by subjects in the massage group.

Four outcome variables were measured: pain, subjective sleep quality, symptom distress and anxiety. Subjects completed demographic questionnaires and the four outcome questionnaires after their first night in the hospital and on the seventh day of their stay. The mean scores for pain and symptom distress decreased significantly for participants in the massage-therapy group. Their anxiety decreased, as well, although not significantly, and their subjective sleep quality remained the same. For the subjects in the control group, pain, symptoms distress, and subjective sleep quality all worsened, although their anxiety was slightly decreased. This study indicated that therapeutic massage may be an integral and important part of nursing care in hospital and hospice settings for cancer patients.

This study can be found in Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 2002, Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 257-62. This study was conducted by Marlaine C. Smith, R.N., Ph.D.; Janet Kemp, R.N., Ph.D.; Linnea Hemphill, Ph.D., L.M.T.; and Carol P. Vojir, Ph.D..

 

Acupressure Decreases Stress, Increases Sedation

In the study, "Pressure Applied on the Extra 1 Acupuncture Point Reduces Bispectral Index Values and Stress in Volunteers", 25 subjects received acupressure on the extra 1 acupuncture point, located midway between the medial ends of the two eyebrows, at the root of the nose. On a different day, the subjects received acupressure on a control point two centimeters from the outside end of the left eyebrow. Pressure on the extra 1 point lasted for 10 minutes, while pressure on the control point lasted for five minutes, due to subjects' discomfort with pressure on this point.

Effects of the acupressure were measured using the bispectral index and verbal stress scales. The bispectral index uses electroencephalography, the recording and analysis of electrical activity in the brain, to measure the depth of hypnosis and sedation in subjects. The verbal stress scales measure stress and tension on a scale of 1 to 10. Bispectral index values were recorded, using electrode attached to the subject's forehead, before the acupressure took place, every 30 seconds during acupressure, and after pressure was released. Subjects completed the verbal stress scale before and after the acupressure occurred.

Bispectral index values were significantly reduced at 2.5, 5, 7.5 and 10 minutes into acupressure on the extra 1 point, indicating an increase in sedation. After the pressure was released, the bispectral index values returned to baseline. Pressure on the control point also decreased bispectral index values, but the values were significantly higher than those obtained during pressure on the extra 1 point. Verbal stress scores were reduced by 50 percent after acupressure on the extra 1 pint and by 14 percent after acupressure on the control point.

This study is published in Anethesia Analgesia, 2003, Vol. 96, pp. 885-9. This study was conducted in the Department of Anethesiolgy at Aretaieion Hospital and St. Savas Hospital, Athens, Greece by Argyro Fassoulaki, M.D., Ph.D.; Adia Paraskeva, M.D.; Konstantinos Patris, M.D.; Theodora Pourgiezi, M.D.; Georgia Kostopanagiotou, M.D.

 

Massage for Postoperative Pain and Distress

One-hundred-and-five women, age 18 and older, who underwent an abdominal laparotomy for removal of suspected cancerous lesions, generally ovarian masses. The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups: usual postoperative care, usual care along with massage therapy, or usual care plus vibration therapy. Subjects in the massage group received a 45-minute massage, consisting of Swedish techniques, after surgery and at the same time on the next two post-operative days. Patients in the vibration group received 20 minutes of standardized physiotones therapy on the evening after surgery and at the same time on the two postoperative days. Physiotones therapy involves vibration as inaudible, pure tonal, low-frequency sound waves that resonate through a mattress into both superficial and deep tissues.

The study's primary outcome measures were sensory pain, affective pain and distress. Results showed that on the day of the surgery, massage was significantly more effective than usual care for affective and sensory pain. Massage was also found to be significantly more effective than vibration for affective pain. On the second day after surgery, massage was significantly more effective than usual care for distress. it was significantly better than vibration for sensory pain. Vibration was found to be significantly more effective than usual care for sensory pain and distress. After controlling for multiple comparisons and outcomes, no significantly differences were found between the three groups.

This study can be found in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 77-89. This study was performed by Ann Gill Taylor, R.N.; Daniel L. Galper, Ph.D.; Peyton Taylor, M.D.; Laurel W. Rice, M.D.; Willie Andersen, M.D.; William Irvin, M.D.; Xin-Qun Wang; and Frank E. Harrell, Jr., Ph.D.

Massage Benefits Women with Breast Cancer

According to a research done by the Touch Research Institutes, breast cancer patients have improved immune and neuro-endocrine functions following massage therapy. Thirty-four women with Stage 1 or 2 breast cancer were randomly assigned to either a massage therapy group or a standard treatment control group. Each participant had completed radiation or chemotherapy treatment at least three months before the study started. Women in the massage therapy group received three 30-minute massages per week for five weeks. The control group received standard treatment only. The Profile of Mood States and the Symptom Checklist-90-R were used to evaluate participants' anxiety and mood at the beginning and end of the study period. Urine samples were taken from the women on the first and last days of the study, and their blood was drawn.

Results of the urine tests showed that serotonin and dopamine levels for the massage group increased, and the blood tests showed that there was a significant increase in their natural killer cell numbers and lymphocytes. Results of the questionnaires showed that women in the massage-therapy group had reduced anxiety, depression, anger and hostility. Massage therapy was found to positively impact the psychology, immunology, and biochemistry of women with breast cancer.

The details of this study can be found in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. This study is done by Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., Gail Ironson, M.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D., Judith Hurley, M.D., Galia Katz, Miguel Diego, Sharlene Weiss, Ph.D., Mary Ann Fletcher, Ph.D., Saul Schanberg, M.D., Ph.D. and Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D..

 

Therapeutic Touch Eases Agitation in People with Alzheimer's Disease

"The Effect of Therapeutic Touch on Agitated Behavior and Cortisol in People with Alzheimer's Disease" was conducted by Diana Lynn Woods, Ph.D., R.N. and Margaret Diamond, Ph.D., R.N. at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing and the University of Washington Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems School and Nursing. Ten residents of a special care unit, ages 71 to 84, with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease participated in the study. Observers used a modified Agitated Behavior Rating Scale to measure the frequency and intensity of agitated behavior such as rhythmic, purposeless movements of the hands, mumbling and continuous questions, and walking aimlessly. Six nursing students, blinded to the study, served as the observers, recording behaviors on the Agitated Behavior Rating Scale every 20 minutes, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, on a palm-top computer, with a total of 630 observers per subject. Data collection occurred for 16 days. Therapeutic Touch, stated by the authors, "is an intentionally directed process during which the practitioner uses the hands as a focus to facilitate the healing process."

Results of the study showed a significant decreased in overall agitated behavior especially vocalization and pacing/walking, which together made up 60 percent of the agitated behavior in these participants. The biggest decrease happened during the three days of Therapeutic Touch.

This study can be found in Biological Research for Nursing, Vol. 4, No. 2, Oct. 2002, pp. 104-14.

 

Trager for Parkinson's Disease and Rigidity

"The Effect of Trager Therapy on the Level of Evoked Stretch Responses in Patients with Parkinson's Disease and Rigidity" was conducted by Christian Duval, Denis Lafontaine, Jacques Herbert, Alain Leroux, Ph.D., Michel Panisset, M.D., and Jean P. Boucher, Ph.D. Twenty six patients with a mean age of 58.5 years and a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease were assigned to receive either 2 minutes of Trager therapy on the more rigid side of their body, or on the opposite side. Half the patients in each group received the treatment in a supine position on a massage therapy table; and other half received the treatment while sitting in a chair.

Trager work consists of the support and movement of the patient's body within a pain-free range, so that he or she may experience the feeling of moving effortlessly, release tension and allow new movement patterns to emerge. This study focused on upper limb rigidity of the participants, involved gentle manipulation of the shoulder, trunk, leg, arm and hand. Depending which group the subject was in, either the more-rigid or less-rigid arm was supported by the therapist and put into a gentle rocking motion while the subject lay passively supine on the massage table or sat passively in a chair.

Before each Trager session, and at one and 11 minutes after each session, rhythmic, passive flexion and extension of the participant's wrist was imposed, and electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded. Each evaluation consisted of three consecutive, 12-second trials, during which the EMG activity of the forearm muscles was recorded. Results of the study showed that rigidity was significantly reduced at both one and 11 minutes after the Trager session, and that only the position of the patients affected the results with sitting position is much less significant than other conditions.

This study is published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Sept. 2002, Vol. 25, No. 7, pp. 455-64.

Massage Decreases Intensity of Delayed Soreness

"The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness" was conducted by J.E. Hilbert, G.A. Sforzo and T. Swensen of the Center for Health Sciences Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences in Ithaca, New York.
Eighteen volunteers with an average age of 20 were randomly assigned to either massage or a control group. Baseline range of motion measurements were recorded in straight leg raise. Subjects then completed eight sub-maximal and two maximal eccentric contractions with the right hamstrings at a slow velocity as a warm-up, rested two minutes, and completed five maximal eccentric contractions with the right hamstrings. The highest value recorded during these lifts served as baseline value for peak torque. Participants also completed the Differential Descriptor Scale, an assessment of pain that measures both the sensory and emotional aspects of pain, and gave a blood sample to record the baseline percentage of neutrophils, an indication of muscle damage, in their blood.
On a different day, the treatment for each subject began with the previously described warm-up, followed by 10 maximal eccentric contractions with the right hamstring to cause muscle damage. After rest, subjects performed more maximal eccentric contractions. Participants then received either 20 minutes of massage or 20 minutes rest. Immediately afterwards, subjects completed the evaluation of range of motion, peak torque, soreness, and neutrophils. Again they were evaluated at 6 hours, 24 and 48 hours later on the same factors. The massage group's intensity of soreness was significantly lower than the control group at 48 hours post exercise.
If you are interested in this study, you can check out British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2003, Issue 37, pp.72-5.

 

Reflexology Eases Encopresis and Chronic Constipation

Eileen Bishop, Evelyn McKinnon, Evelyn Weir and Denise Brown of Ayrshire and Arran Acute Hospitals Trust in the United Kingdom conducted a study "Reflexology in the management of encopresis and chronic constipation"
Fifty children between aged 3 and 14 with a diagnosis of encopresis (fecal incontinence) and chronic constipation participated in the study. They were given 30 minutes of reflexology to their feet once a week for six weeks. with the help of their parents, the children completed questionnaires on bowel movements and soiling patterns before, during and after the six sessions of reflexology. The questionnaires were designed to record the number of bowel movements and the incidents of soiling in each seven-day period before, during and after the reflexology treatment.
Before the start of reflexology, 78 percent of the participants reported soiling at least daily. After the reflexology sessions, only 20 percent of the group reported soiling at least once a day, and 48 percent reported no soiling in seven days. As for bowel movements, before the reflexology session, 36 percent reported no bowel movement in a period of seven days. After the reflexology sessions, two percent had no bowel movement in one week and 24 percent reported daily bowel movement. According to the study authors, "administering reflexology to the children has been achieved with ease and there have been no adverse reactions observed or reported."
This complete study is published in Pediatric Nursing, April 2003, Vol. 15, pp. 20-1.

 

Massage Prior to Cardiac Catheterization Lowers Blood Pressure

Mary Ellen McNamara, Diana Burnham, Christine Smith and Diane L. Carroll, Ph.D. conducted a recent research on "The Effects of Back Massage Before Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization". Forty-six subjects received either a 20 minutes back massage or 20 minutes of standard care prior to cardiac catheterization. They measured heart rate, heart-rate variability, blood pressure, respiration, peripheral skin temperature, pain perception and psychological state. Results of the study showed that subjects in the back massage group had significant systolic blood pressure immediately after the massage and 10 minutes later.
If you are interested in this study, please refer to Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, January/February 2003, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 50-7.

 

Massage Favorably Adjusts Infants' Rest-Activity Cycle

"Massage Therapy by Mothers Enhances Adjustment of Circadian Rhythms to the Nocturnal Period in Full-Term Infants" was conducted by Sari Goldstein Ferber, Ph.D., Moshe Laudon, Ph.D., Jacob Kuint, M.D. Aron Weller, Ph.D., and Nava Zisapel, Ph.D..
Twenty-one mother-infant pairs were randomly assigned to treatment group, in which mothers massaged their infants for 30 minutes before bedtime, or the control group, in which there was no intervention. The massage consisted of light, circular strokes of the baby's back with one hand, while touching the baby's head with the other hand. Urinary excretion of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin at night was evaluated. Excretion of this substance reflects the production of the hormone melatonin, a sleep regulator and time cue in humans. Diapers used by the infants during the night (7p.m. to 8a.m.) were collected and analyzed at ages 6, 8 and 12 weeks. At 12 weeks, the nocturnal urinary excretion of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin was significantly greater in the treated infants compared to the control group.
If you are interested in the study, please check out the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, December 2002, Vol. 23, No. 6, pp. 410-5.

 

Massage Therapy Benefits Aggressive Adolescents

Miguel Diego, Tiffany Field, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Jon Shaw, Eugenio Rothe, Daniel Castellanos and Linda Mesner conducted a recent study "Aggressive Adolescents Benefit from Massage Therapy". They showed that by providing the adolescents ages 9 to 14 two 20-minute chair massage per week for five week. It was able to lower anxiety level, reported feeling less hostile, and were perceived by their parents as less aggressive. The control group received relaxation-therapy instructed to tense and relax each major muscle groups in the back, arms, face and neck. The control group subjects did not report feeling of less anxious after the treatment sessions.
If you are interested to find out more about this study details, please check out "Massage Therapy Benefits Aggressive Adolescents" in the Adolescence, Fall 2002, Vol. 37, No. 147, pp. 598-607.

 

Massage Decreases Lumbar Fatigue

"The effect of massage on localized lumbar muscle fatigue" was conducted by Tim Hideaki Tanaka, Gerry Leisman, Hidetoshi Mori and Kazushi Nishijo. Twenty nine subjects with out back pain participated in the study. They all went through lumbar extension exercises, they then received either 5 minutes massage or rested for 5 minutes. The study showed that massage application was able to help the subjects overcome the subjective feeling of fatigue.
If you are interested to find out more about this study, please check out "The effect of massage on localized lumbar fatigue" in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 9

 

Touch Therapy Reduce Complications, Increase Comfort after Bone Marrow Transplant

Marlaine Smith, Francelyn Reeder, Julaluk Baramee, and Jan Hagman conducted a study on "Outcomes of Touch Therapies During Bone Marrow Transplant" in 61 post bone marrow transplant patients aged between 18 to 70 years old. The subjects received either a 30-minute Swedish massage or 30-minute social conversation. Results demonstrated that there was significantly less neurological complications in the massage therapy group than the social conversation group. The subjects in the massage therapy group perceived that they received significantly greater benefits from the therapy than those in the social conversation group.
If you are interested in this study, please check out "Outcomes of Touch Therapies During Bone Marrow Transplant" in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, January/February 2003, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 40-9.
 

 

Massage Reduces Headache Frequency

According to a recent study conducted by Christopher Quinn, Clint Chandler and Albert Moraska, Ph.D., of the Boulder College Therapy in Boulder, Colorado, they found out that massage was able to significantly reduced the number of headaches experienced by people with chronic tension headaches, and decreased the duration of the headaches. All four subjects experienced a reduction in headaches within the first week of massage treatment and the average number of headaches per week was significantly reduced during the four weeks of massage.
If you are interested to find out more about this study details, please check out "Massage Therapy and Frequency of Chronic Tension Headaches" in the American Journal of Public Health, October 2002, Vol. 92, No. 10, pp. 1,657-61.

 

Pre-hospital Acupressure Relieves Pain

According to a study carried out by Dr. Alexander Kober, Dr. Thomas Scheck, and Dr. Manfred Greher, Frank Lieba, Roman Fleischhackl, Sabine Fleischhackl, Frederick Randunsky and Dr. Klaus Hoerauf in University of Vienna Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, the Vienna Red Cross, and the Research Institute of the Vienna Red Cross, the study showed that acupressure was able to reduce pain, anxiety and heart rate in victims of minor trauma before they reached the hospital. This was a prospective, randomized and double-blinded trial study. The results could show that acupressure is an effective treatment for pain in first aid and emergency trauma care.
If you want to learn more about this study, please check out "Prehospital Analgesia with Acupressure in Victims of Minor Trauma" in the Anesthesia & Analgesia Journal 2002, Issue 95, pp. 723-7.