and whether it is short or long term we all could do without it. Massage has been proven to be successful in many different types of pain management. Migraine headaches are one example of both an extreme but common ailment which afflicts many of us. Chances are you know at least one person who experiences migraines on a regular basis. Quite a number of studies have been done demonstrating the effectiveness of massage in alleviating the effects of migraines.
Three doctors, Younes Jahangiri Noudeh, MD, Nasibeh Vatankhah, and Hamid R. Baradaran, MD, Ph.D., conducted and published one such study in 2012. They found that “following treatment, headache pain intensity was significantly reduced compared to the pretreatment values” with reduction percentiles being between 50.21% and 87.33%. They also stated that “no side effects were observed, and all of the patients reported satisfaction with the intervention”.
Another study focused on migraine relief conducted by the Department of Psychology, the University of Auckland incorporated a 5 week trial of weekly massage sessions. They reported that “compared to control participants, massage participants exhibited greater improvements in migraine frequency and sleep quality during the intervention weeks and the 3 follow-up weeks.” This tells us that not only are the benefits short term but long term as well. They go on to illustrate that “trends for beneficial effects of massage therapy on perceived stress and coping efficacy were observed. During sessions, massage induced decreases in state anxiety, heart rate, and cortisol.”
A study of tension headaches by Albert Moraska, Ph.D. and Clint Chandler, BS, LMT resulted in similar results demonstrating the long term relief effects of massage therapy. They stated that “the frequency of headache events decreased, but it is also notable that successive headaches experienced by study participants were of reduced intensity and duration and these reductions persisted at least 3 weeks following massage therapy.”
Another study of tension headache relief for patients with chronic symptoms who presented with both neck pain and decreased range of motion received 10 sessions of massage therapy. The results of this study yielded that “the range of movement in all directions increased. . . and the number of days with neck pain decreased significantly”.
Results of this nature were also recorded by Christopher Quinn, DC, Clint Chandler, BS, and Albert Moraska, Ph.D. They found that “headache frequency was significantly reduced within the first week of the massage protocol. The reduction of headache frequency continued for the remainder of the study. The duration of headaches tended to decrease during the massage treatment period”
Head and neck pain are not the only areas that can benefit from massage therapy. At the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Ontario a study was conducted to gauge the effectiveness of massage therapy to alleviate low-back pain. “The comprehensive massage therapy group had improved function, less intense pain and a decrease in the quality of pain compared with the other 3 groups. Clinical significance was evident for the comprehensive massage therapy group and the soft-tissue manipulation group on the measure of function. At 1-month follow-up, 63% of subjects in the comprehensive massage therapy group reported no pain”. So, even after 4 weeks over half of the study group who received massage therapy were still experiencing full relief!
In the treatment of Erythromelalgia which is a painful disease of the extremities that “is a chronic, debilitating condition often resistant to medical treatment . . . patient feedback suggests that massage therapy may lead to a state of increased relaxation, decreased stress, decreased muscle tension, and improved sleep” as reported by Krista Dicks, BA, RMT, CLT and Philippe Rizek, BSc, MSc, MD.
A study performed at the Toronto Hospital in Canada which observed the ability of massage to reduce overall pain in working nurses yielded that “pain intensity and tension levels were significantly lower after massage. In addition, relaxation levels and overall mood state improved significantly after treatments”