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Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
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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