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Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
MPA Media Wins Seven Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
When Big Pharma Meets Chinese Medicine
Earlier this year, Bayer made a media splash with their decision to buy the Dihon Pharmaceutical Group Co., a Chinese TCM manufacturer.
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
July, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 07
Spotlight on Research
By Michael Devitt
Editor's note: This periodic column keeps you abreast of the latest research documenting the benefits of massage and bodywork. Published research is summarized, with references to the full study text provided; abstracts of research are reproduced with minimal edits.
If you would like your research abstract or summary published in Spotlight on Research, please contact us at .
New Study Reviews Effectiveness of Massage Therapy: Researchers Draw Interesting Parallels Between Massage and Psychotherapy
Massage therapy is one of the fastest growing forms of alternative medicine in the country.A 1998 study found that visits to massage therapists increased 36 percent between 1990 and 1997.1 More recently, a study published by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine this May2 found that massage was the ninth most popular form of alternative medicine in the country, with an estimated 5 percent of the adult American population using massage therapy at least once in the past 12 months.
While the use of massage continues to rise, so has interest in massage research. While several meta-analyses of massage studies have been conducted in the past, each of them has been limited in scope, preferring to look at specific patient groups or types of massage. A new meta-analysis, published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal earlier this year,3 has taken a fresh look at the effectiveness of massage therapy in the adult population, and has concluded that it offers a wide range of physical and psychological benefits similar to those seen using other forms of care.
In the analysis, researchers began with 144 studies that fit their definition of massage, which was defined as "the manual manipulation of soft tissue intended to promote health and well-being." To qualify for inclusion, each study had to have been conducted on adults; studies on infants, or those employing therapeutic touch, ice massage, self-massage or massage with mechanical devices were eliminated. In addition, each study had to (a) compare a massage therapy group with at least one non-massage therapy control group; (b) randomly assign subjects to groups; and (c) report data sufficient enough for a between-groups effect to be generated on at least one variable being studied.
Thirty-seven studies met the above criteria and were used in the meta-analysis. The studies involved a total of 1,802 participants, including 795 who received massage therapy. The average number of participants per study was 48.7; the average age of a participant was 40.6. In some studies, massage was delivered only once; in others, it was performed multiple times. On average, participants received 21.7 minutes of massage therapy per treatment application. Sixty-five percent of the studies reported using a trained massage therapist (or therapists) to provide care; 22 percent reported using a "minimally trained" person or persons; and 14 percent did not indicate the level of training by the person (or persons) administering massage.
Nine specific effects were measured in the studies. In studies in which patients received a single application of massage therapy, anxiety state, blood-pressure levels, heart rate, negative mood, and immediate assessment of pain and cortisol levels were examined. In multiple-application studies, trait anxiety, depression and delayed assessment of pain were investigated. In the single-application studies, massage therapy (MT) produced "statistically significant" positive results for three effects compared to patients receiving a placebo or a different therapy.
According to the researchers: "... the average participant receiving MT experienced a reduction of state anxiety that was greater than 64 percent of participants receiving a comparison treatment. MT was also more effective than comparison treatments in reducing blood pressure and heart rate. The average MT participant experienced a reduction in blood pressure that was greater than 60 percent of comparison group participants, whereas for heart rate, the reduction resulting from MT was greater than 66 percent of comparison group participants."
In a surprise finding, massage did not reduce cortisol levels significantly, a result that differed from conclusions obtained in previous studies. In addition, massage therapy did not exhibit any effect on the immediate assessment of pain or a patient's negative mood. Despite these contrasting results, the scientists noted that "the significant finding for the cardiovascular variables suggests that future research should examine whether MT might have an enduring effect on blood pressure such that it could be used in treating hypertension."
In the multiple-application studies, "some of MT's largest and most interesting effects" were observed. While massage didn't appear to affect one's immediate assessment of pain, "a significant effect" was found for delayed assessment of pain. Specifically, patients who received a course of massage therapy and were assessed several days or weeks after the last treatment session "exhibited levels of pain that were lower, on average, than 62 percent of comparison group participants," a finding that lends credence to the theory that massage may promote the reduction of pain by allowing restorative sleep to take place more easily.
The most significant effects of massage therapy were seen when measuring anxiety and depression levels. According to the researchers, "The average MT participant experienced a reduction of trait anxiety that was greater than 77 percent of comparison group participants, and a reduction of depression that was greater than 73 percent of comparison group participants." So great were these reductions that the scientists considered massage therapy almost as effective as traditional psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Massage: The Psychotherapy of the 21st Century?
The results of the meta-analysis dealt a blow to some commonly held beliefs about the effectiveness of massage therapy. For instance, the failure of massage to provide a significant effect on the immediate assessment of pain "contradicts the theory that MT provides stimuli that interfere with pain consistent with gate control theory." In addition, while the reductions in blood pressure and heart rate supported existing beliefs that massage promotes a response in the parasympathetic nervous system, the authors noted that "if this theory is true, it would also be expected that a significant reduction in cortisol levels would have occurred, which did not."
One new theory the researchers put forth was that massage therapy "may provide benefit in a way that parallels the common-factors model of psychotherapy." In this model, the specific mode of psychotherapy delivered is secondary to other factors, such as a client's positive expectation for treatment, a therapist who is warm and has a positive regard for the client, and the relationship between the therapies and the client.
"The same model can be extended to MT, given the possibility that benefits arising from it may come about more from factors such as the recipient's attitude toward MT, the therapist's personal characteristics and expectations, and the interpersonal contact and communication that take place during treatment, as opposed to the specific form of MT used or the site to which it is applied," the authors suggested.
Given the proposed similarities between massage therapy and psychotherapy, one might think that the benefits derived from massage are, in layman's terms, "all in your head." As the researchers asserted in their conclusion, this is hardly the case, but it does lead to intriguing possibilities for future massage research.
"The idea that MT has significant parallels with psychotherapy, and that perspectives gained from psychotherapeutic research should be applied to future research, is not meant to suggest that MT delivers effects entirely by psychological means," the scientists explained. "Clearly MT is at least partially a physical therapy, and some of its benefits almost certainly occur through physiological mechanisms. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of MT is that it may deliver benefit in multiple ways."
"... However, whether researchers wish to study MT as a physical therapy, as a psychological one, or as both, new research should examine not merely the effects resulting from MT, but also the way in which these effects come about," they advised. "It is only by testing MT theories that a better understanding of this ancient practice will result."
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