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Industry News for American Massage Therapy Association

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AMTA Research Roundup - New Research Supports Massage as Supplemental Treatment for Low-Back Pain and Burn Scars


Research Confirms Need to Discuss Massage Therapy with Your Physician


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  • Massage showed fast therapeutic results in reducing chronic low back pain—even for patients that don’t use anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Burn rehabilitation massage therapy reduces pain, itching and scarring characteristics – such as scar thickness and elasticity—providing relief to burn victims.


Two new independent clinical studies demonstrate that massage therapy eases pain and improves recovery time for people suffering from lower back injuries and burns. The two studies support recent findings from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that found 43 percent of consumers reported their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous year was for a medical/health care reason. And, physicians play a key role in discussing massage therapy with patients—48 percent of respondents indicated they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage.


“These findings emphasize what professional massage therapists know: massage is good medicine,” said Nancy Porambo, AMTA President. “Massage therapy provided by a professional massage therapist is being increasingly viewed by physicians and their patients as an important component of integrated care. Nearly 9 of 10 American consumers believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain. And, a growing body of clinical research continues to validate that.”


Massage Therapy Can Help Low-Back Pain


In a study published in the February 2014 edition of Scientific World Journal, researchers investigated whether chronic low-back pain therapy with massage therapy alone was as effective as combining it with non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.


Researchers concluded massage had a positive effect on patients with chronic low-back pain and propose that the use of massage causes fast therapeutic results and that, in practice, it could help to reduce the use of anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of chronic low-back pain[1].


Massage to Reduce Burn Scars


In a separate study published in the March issue of the journal Burns, 146 burn patients with scars were randomly divided into two groups. Researchers concluded that burn rehabilitation massage therapy is effective in improving pain, itching, and scar characteristics in hypertrophic scars after a burn[2].


“These studies clearly show that massage therapy, in conjunction with standard treatment, can be a real benefit to patients,” Porambo said. “We encourage patients with low back pain and hypertrophic burns to consider what massage therapy may do for them and to discuss it with their physicians.”


AMTA’s most recent consumer survey, published in October, found that physicians play a key role in discussing massage therapy with patients, as 48 percent of respondents indicated they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage.


[1] Majchrzycki M, Kocur P, Kotwicki T. Deep tissue massage and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for low back pain: a prospective randomized trial. ScientificWorldJournal. 2014; 287597.

[2] Choa YS, Jeona JH, Hongb A, et. al. The effect of burn rehabilitation massage therapy on hypertrophic scar after burn: A randomized controlled trial. Burns, 2014; 10.1016


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