resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
9 Common Causes of Thyroid Imbalance and How You Can Help
How you sleep, how easily you wake up, and how much energy and stamina you have during the day are directly related to levels of the thyroid hormones.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
News in Brief
National Chiropractic Health Month: Be Proactive; Collegiate Roundup: Academic Appointments at Parker, Logan.
A Vibrating Capsule for Constipation? Relevance to Your Chiropractic Practice
The relationship between gastrointestinal (GI) complaints and back pain is not typically written about or discussed.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Don't Turn a 2 Into a 10
The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale1 is so useful because it can be used by almost anyone. Patients can use the numbers associated with the faces depicted on the scale or select the face that demonstrates their current level of pain from 0-10.
CCE Finally Takes a "Baby Step" Toward Reform
During a 16-month period from October 2010 to February 2012, I devoted four separate columns to the heavy-handed attempt by the Council on Chiropractic Education to radically change the chiropractic profession through the accreditation process.
Why Young People Need Chiropractic Now More Than Ever
According to a recent study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, "It is now widely acknowledged that neck pain (NP), mid back pain (MBP), and low back pain (LBP) (spinal pain) start early in life and that the lifetime prevalence increases rapidly during adolescence to reach adult levels at the age of 18."
Waking Up the Gluteus Maximus
In previous articles in this series, we expounded on the importance of the gluteus maximus (GM) in athletic performance and protecting the knee from injury. We also know there is a link between iliotibial band syndrome and GM weakness.
Chiropractic Research in Review
Chiropractic Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis; Cost / Benefit Analysis: Different Doses of SMT for Low Back Pain; Imaging for Occult Rib and Costal Cartilage Fractures; Treating Neck Pain: Thoracic Thrust Manipulation vs. Non-Thrust Mobilization.
MPA Media Wins 7 Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Dynamic Chiropractic and DC Practice Insights, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecedented seven publishing awards by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
Pain Underfoot: Metatarsalgia
Foot pain can interfere significantly with normal activities and severely limit participation in sports. Metatarsalgia is foot pain involving the metatarsal bones in the forefoot – the complaint of pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
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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