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Adventures with the Pericardium
My previous column on the San Jiao deserves equal time for SJ's loving partner, the pericardium. I nicknamed SJ the travel meridian – but pericardium can also play a crucial role in air travel.
Know Your Research: Tips for Evaluating Literature Reviews
Clinical and experimental studies are not the only types of published research we might encounter as we look for evidence to inform our practices. One of the most useful types is the literature review, which summarizes a group of studies.
Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes (Part 1)
More than 45 million children ages 6-18 participate in some form of organized athletics, and 75 percent of American families with school-aged children have at least one child participating in organized sports.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists more than 80 common autoimmune diseases including asthma, Crohn's disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Work Stress and Musculoskeletal Health: Do Your Patients Get the Connection?
Most people underestimate the impact their job has on their health, especially if that job isn't particularly physically demanding. Big mistake.
Are Probiotics Doing More Harm Than Good?
Considerable controversy exists concerning the efficacy of probiotic supplements. Very few human studies show any real positive impact on the microbiome or health. The "promise" of probiotics is based on the few animal studies that suggest a positive effect.
Code Connection: Guidelines for the Use of Modifier -52
Modifier -52 identifies that a service or procedure has been partially reduced or eliminated at the physician's discretion. This is to indicate the basic service described by the procedure code has been performed, but not all aspects of the service have been performed.
International Congress on Integrative Medicine
"Bridging Research, Clinical Care, Education and Policy" was the theme for the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health 2016 (ICIMH).
MPA Media Wins More Publishing Awards
The American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) has honored Dynamic Chiropractic with a national award and two regional awards for editorial excellence, and sister publication DC Practice Insights with two regional awards for graphic design excellence.
Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine in Taiwan Hospitals
This spring, a team of Western medical doctors and TCM practitioners from Cleveland Clinic traveled to Taiwan to visit Kaiser Pharmaceutical Co. (KP), and China Medical University (CMU), Taiwan's leading integrative medicine hospital.
Let's Talk About Biceps Injuries at the Elbow
While most muscles cross over only one joint, the biceps crosses two joints: the elbow and the shoulder. Injuries to the lower biceps cause considerable elbow pain. Here's how to assess and treat an injury to this area conservatively.
The Professional and Practice Benefits of Political Activism
Welcome to election season, a vital part of our American culture. Every two years, without fail, we are bombarded with TV, print materials and phone messages seeking our vote.
Time to Fight for Your Medicare Right
I have heard a lot of noise and a lot of debate about what is going on with Medicare. As an ACA delegate, I often get asked: 'What is the ACA even doing?'
What's New in the NCCIH Strategic Plan
The NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) released its draft strategic plan 2016-2021 for public comment in early spring of 2016.
Lessons from Functional Neurology
Chiropractic neurology, also known as clinical neuroscience or functional neurology, is moving the chiropractic profession forward by leaps and bounds.
Analyzing Acupuncture Case Studies
Confirm the answer quickly by the elimination method. Take this case study as an example. After two treatments for back pain, a patient presents for a third session complaining of rapid breathing and wheezing that is made worse during cold weather.
Less Time Than Required
Q: When is it appropriate to use a modifier -52? Can I use it for a timed service when I do less than the time required by the code?
What are the Meridians?
The meridian and collateral system (jing luo, hereinafter referred to as "Meridians") is comprised of the main meridian channels (jing mai) and the collateral vessels (luo mai). Jing takes from meaning of the Chinese word pathway (also jing) and are the main branches of the system.
Chiropractic in the Eyes of the Public: 2nd Gallup-Palmer Poll
The second Gallup / Palmer College poll has been completed, yielding significant additional data regarding Americans' experiences with and perceptions of chiropractic care.
A Study of Relationships
Sa-Ahm's five element acupuncture method is known to be one of the most effective acupuncture techniques in Korea because it gives an instant response at the time of treatment and has a high success rate in resolving chronic problems.
Don't Ignore the Lower Half of the Pelvis (Part 1)
When your patient complains of lower back or pelvic pain, but your usual treatments are not getting the job done, what do you examine and treat? You may be missing important structures in the lower half of the pelvis.
Illuminating the Hidden, Freeing the Source
Amongst the Primary Channels, from a classical point of view, the small intestine is perhaps the most important channel to understand. It is one of the least used acupuncture channels in modern acupuncture, yet it within it can be found a wealth of theories from the Ling Shu.
December, 2015, Vol. 15, Issue 12
Massage and the Stress Response
Making Sense of the Existing Literature
By Massage Therapy Foundation Contributor
Contributed by Beth Barberree, BA, RMT; April Neufeld, BS, LMT; and S. Pualani Gillespie LMT, MSN, RN, BCMTB
Massage has long been seen as a way for people to decrease their stress levels. With the growing number of people seeking massage therapy care in recent years, it becomes increasingly important to understand if it is effective in managing the negative health consequences of stress. In this month's article review, we explore work from a team of experienced researchers who provided a review of the existing literature in this area.
Albert Moraska, Robin Pollini, Karen Boulanger, Marissa Brooks, and Lesley Teitlebaum in their 2008 article, "Physiological Adjustments to Stress Following Massage Therapy: A Review of the Literature," provided a critical evaluation of peer-reviewed research that had investigated the relationship between massage therapy and physiological measures of stress. The authors emphasized that reviews like this one are important to understanding the effectiveness of massage therapy in the management of the health impacts of stress.
In this literature review, massage therapy was defined as "the manipulation of soft tissues for the purpose of producing physiological effects on the vascular, muscular or nervous systems of the body." Only studies where massage therapy was applied within the context of this definition were included, so any studies involving light touch modalities were excluded. The research group only included studies where the massage was provided by trained therapists, and those with adults as the participants. This process of deciding what studies will be included and excluded is called setting the inclusion criteria.
With these criteria in mind, the research team conducted a broad and extensive search of several electronic research databases, along with the researchers' own libraries, for articles that pertained to "stress" in combination with "massage," "bodywork," "physiotherapy," and "manual therapy." Articles were included when "presenting dependent variables of stress that included the hormones cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, or physical measures of blood pressure (BP) and heart rate." Of the initial 1032 citations reviewed that met the search parameters, only "25 articles were found to meet all inclusion criteria."
The research team found that the 25 studies employed a diversity of experimental methods. There was large variability in session duration, "from 5 to 90 minutes, with over half (52%) of the studies having a session duration between 20 and 30 minutes." Commonly, 6 to 10 treatments were delivered, but data was most often collected following the first session. The researchers chose not to report on specific massage techniques used as the specific techniques used were reported in varying degrees of detail and those studies had varied results.
"Study populations were varied and included sexually abused women, patients with eating disorders, pain conditions, hypertension, HIV positive diagnosis, cancer, post-operative patients, critical care patients, healthy adult populations, and some specific disease states." Hormones that are markers for stress response were also noted by the researchers in this review.
Salivary cortisol is easy to collect from the mouth and non-invasive, so massage therapy studies frequently use this method for assessing cortisol levels. Of those studies that measured reductions in salivary cortisol it appears that the decrease, although significant, may be short term. There does not appear to be a cumulative reduction in salivary cortisol levels with multiple massage treatments. The subject populations in these studies were highly varied, "which suggests that many groups may experience an immediate benefit from massage therapy for this variable. . . However, most study participants were either healthy adults or experiencing chronic life stress."
Urinary cortisol has been used to assess changes following multiple massage treatments. The studies that assessed urinary cortisol did so at baseline and after 5 weeks of twice-weekly massage and found evidence of a cumulative reduction in urinary cortisol.
"Epinephrine (adrenaline) is produced mainly from the adrenal medulla and reflects the subject's sympathomedullar activity" [activity from this gland]. "Epinephrine output is mainly influenced by mental stress."
"Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is considered an indicator of sympathoneuronal [sympathetic nervous system] activity as most of the circulating norepinephrine is released from sympathetic nerve endings. This hormonal defense reaction is aimed at routing energy from organs to muscles for the muscles" and "is more responsive to physical activity" than to mental stress. However, the authors state a decrease in either of these hormones "may indicate a physiological reduction in stress" routing circulation from organs to muscles.
Cardiovascular responses reported in 16 of the studies were blood pressure and heart rate. "Increases in blood pressure, respiration and heart rate are all physiological manifestations of the sympathetic nervous system's response to stressful events." There were mixed results in the studies reporting these responses, with the differences including what body parts were massaged, the massage techniques applied, overall health of the study participants, duration of the massage session, and single session versus multiple sessions. No studies reported an increase in blood pressure. Also the effect of massage on heart rate, although not sustainable, seemed to be repeatable as decreases following massage occurred one visit after the next.
It was noted by the research team that their review was based on the outlined inclusion criteria. The authors contrasted their review with a meta-analysis completed by Moyer et al. (2004). Results of the two reviews were not consistent. The two reports differed with respect to levels of salivary cortisol and blood pressure; the Moyer et al. (2004) report found no massage sessions that affected salivary cortisol and did find a change for blood pressure. The authors of the current review conclude that the difference in findings reveals more about the current state of massage therapy research than about the clinical effects of massage therapy on stress measures. Overall, "the studies reviewed showed a variety of methodological shortcomings."
Of significant interest to readers is the authors' conclusion that, "to date, the research on massage therapy and stress has not progressed to demonstrate efficacy in a trial of sufficient size or methodological rigor to make definitive statements about its efficacy in reducing stress as measured by physiological variables in any particular patient population." It is unfortunate that the evidence does not support making strong conclusions about the impact of massage therapy on physiological stress indicators. It is also unclear why there is no mention of heart rate and blood pressure in the key words listed as search criteria in the current review, even though these non-hormonal markers of stress were included in the review. This may lead to difficulty in having this review come up in other literature searches.
The authors identify opportunities for future studies to examine the effectiveness of massage therapy. Based on the diversity among the studies in the current review, the authors emphasized the need for research that employs methodological rigor including large sample sizes, detailed and reproducible treatment protocols, and reporting of clinical and statistical significance.
The Massage Therapy Foundation continues to support and promote research as seen in this month's review. The Foundation is currently accepting scientific submissions for our 2016 International Massage Therapy Research Conference (IMTRC) that will be held in Seattle, Washington, May 12-15. More information about the conference as well as the submission guidelines are now available on our website at www.massagetherapyfoundation.org.
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