Massage Therapy Can Decrease Pain

Massage Therapy Can Decrease Pain

GLENVIEW, IL, Aug. 15, 2008—For those who experience lingering pain following exercise, a relaxing deep massage can help relieve musculoskeletal pain associated with exercise-induced pain, according to research reported in The Journal of Pain.

Researchers at the University of Iowa performed a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial to study the effects of massage on pressure-pain thresholds and perceived pain using delayed muscle soreness following exercise as the pain measurement. Trial participants were divided into three groups: no-treatment (control), superficial touch and deep tissue massage. Pain was assessed before treatment, after exercise and before and after treatment.

Massage has been used for rehabilitation and relaxation for thousands of years with no adverse effects. Unfortunately, few well-controlled trials of massage exist either in clinical or experimentally induced pain populations. The purpose for the study, therefore, was to determine the effects of massage using an endogenous muscle-pain model in otherwise healthy individuals.

The authors found that subjects given deep-tissue massage were able to increase their pain thresholds and decrease stretch pain compared with the no-treatment group. When combining the deep-tissue massage and light-touch groups, they found that stretch-pain reductions remained significantly better than in the control group although the light-touch treatment was not significantly better than no treatment.

The authors concluded that their study demonstrates that soft-tissue massage can reduce hyperalgesia and pain using a delayed onset muscle soreness model. The findings support use of massage to reduce stretch-pain perception and hyperalgesia.

Source: Massage Reduces Pain Perception and Hyperalgesia in Experimental Muscle Pain: A randomized, Controlled Trial; Laura A. Frey Law, Stephanie Evans, Jill Knudson, Steven Nus, Kerri Scholl and Kathleen Sluka; University of Iowa, Program in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science.