Friday, October 21, 2011

More People Turning to Clinical Massage for Pain

Briefly Noted Recent results from the 15th annual consumer survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) show that consumers have a growing awareness of the health benefits of massage. In fact, 90% of individuals perceive massage as effective in reducing pain and an increasing number of people consult physicians and other healthcare professionals about massage therapy.

In a news release (10/20/2011 PRNewswire), Glenath Moyle, AMTA president, states, “These survey results indicate that more and more people are finding relief for their pain and other health problems with regular massage… and are integrating it into their regular health maintenance routines.” According to the survey, 86% of individuals view massage as beneficial for overall health and wellness and as more than just a pampering technique.*

In fact, the proportion of consumers who rely on clinical massage therapy for pain relief has increased from 25% in 2010 to 31% in 2011, among survey respondents who had a massage in the last year. This current figure is more than 3-times the number of consumers who seek acupuncture for pain relief. Additionally, a recent Consumer Reports survey indicated that deep-tissue massage, along with yoga and Pilates all rated about the same as prescription medication for the relief of back pain [also see UPDATE “Massage Tops Meds for Lower Back Pain” here].

Physicians and other health professionals continue to influence consumers' decisions to use massage therapy for increased health and wellness. Of those patients who spoke with a healthcare provider about massage, 12% were referred to a massage therapist, another 21% of physicians strongly recommended massage, while 24% encouraged it. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Samueli Institute, 42% of hospitals surveyed offer some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) services and massage therapy is in the top 2 services provided at those hospitals. In fact, among the responding hospitals that use CAM, 64% offer massage for outpatient treatment and 44% provide massage for inpatient treatment.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Clinical massage therapy should not be confused with relaxation or spa massage. Licensed clinical massage therapists are extensively educated and highly trained in an array of techniques to address various musculoskeletal pain conditions and often work under the supervision of physicians, chiropractors, or other appropriately licensed professionals. As prescribed therapy, clinical massage is usually covered by public or private insurance plans. Meaningful clinical research in the massage field related to pain management is emerging slowly, largely due to a lack of funding, such as noted in a prior UPDATE [here].