Effectiveness of Massage Therapy for Chronic, Non-malignant Pain: A Review

Jennie C.I. Tsao


Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007;4(2):165-179. 

In This Article


The PubMed, PsychInfo, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases searched up to July 2006 using the keywords ‘massage’, ‘pain’, ‘analgesia’ and ‘analgesics’. As noted above, the focus of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview of the evidence regarding massage therapy for chronic, non-malignant pain. Thus, due to the large number of trials uncovered using the present search strategy, reviews by the Cochrane Collaboration and other authors were used where applicable to identify relevant trials. Primary studies that were excluded by the Cochrane group or others due to methodological or other limitations were therefore not included in the present review. However, findings from relevant primary studies that had been published since these reviews appeared were included. Only those chronic, non-malignant pain conditions that had been examined by at least one controlled trial were included in this review. The studies included in this review focused on adult participants; the application of massage therapy for chronic pain in children has been discussed in a prior review.[4,5] The study findings are summarized in Tables 1–6. Mean reductions in the main pain outcome measure are shown in the Tables. Since the most commonly used pain outcome measure was a visual analog scale or VAS rating of pain intensity, means for this outcome are reported whenever possible.


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