What do back pain, stress and breast cancer have in common?
Recent research shows that massage therapy provides relief for people suffering from each of these conditions and that it is an effective complement to medical care.
Consumers have long suspected that massage helps promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle. As more research demonstrates the effectiveness of massage therapy for helping to treat common ailments like low back pain, more consumers are seeking massage to improve their overall wellness and health.
Consumers aren’t the only people recognizing the benefits of massage. Physicians and other healthcare providers are increasingly recommending massage therapy to their patients as a supplement to traditional health care. According to one national survey, 54 percent of primary care physicians and family practitioners would encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy as a treatment. Consumers surveyed over the last three years say that when they discuss therapeutic massage with their physicians, more than 70% responded favorably.
An Effective Treatment for Low Back Pain
A study conducted by Beth Israel-Deaconess Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education and the Center for Health Studies in Seattle concluded that therapeutic massage was an effective treatment for providing long-lasting benefits for patients suffering from chronic low back pain. In fact, researchers hypothesize that massage might be an effective alternative to conventional medical care for persistent low back pain. Researchers hope to continue their research to determine which components of the massage therapy experience contribute to its effectiveness.
Helping Breast Cancer Survivors Cope Emotionally and Physically
Research shows therapeutic massage is an effective complement to traditional medical care for women suffering from the trauma of undergoing a lumpectomy, mastectomy or breast reconstruction. Pre-surgery, massage relaxes muscle tissue and increases the flow of lymph. Post surgery, women who use specialized lymph drainage techniques from a well-trained massage therapist as part of their treatment for lymphedema may experience less pain and swelling, as massage helps disperse build-up of lymphatic fluid.
Although the physiological benefits are important, many women who’ve undergone breast cancer treatment report that the emotional benefits of massage are paramount. Women report that massage helps them reconnect with their bodies after this invasive surgery.
Easing Pain After Bypass Surgery
According to a pilot study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, massage therapy reduces pain and muscle spasms in patients who have undergone heart bypass surgery when patients are treated at the hospital after their surgery. Because of its effectiveness, 60 percent of the massage group expressed a willingness to pay for massage therapy out-of-pocket.
Boosting Immune Function
During periods of stress, the effectiveness of the body’s immune system is reduced. Research indicates that massage can increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall.