Metta Massage Therapy

Chronic Conditions and Massage

This page was abandoned in 2006.
  It is left on-line for general interest.


  Many patients with chronic conditions find that their life improves with massage.

This directory,  organized by condition, provides links to massage information
from medical and massage literature and from patient community websites. 

General Medical - Massage Information

Selected Web links....
WebMD - The Miracle of Massage Therapy  
Touch Research Institute -   Description of TRI
                                       -   TRI Peer Reviewed Studies
National Institutes of Health - MedLinePlus: Listing of Massage Therapy Articles
                                           -PubMed:   Listing of Massage Therapy Articles
Merck Manual - Treatment of Pain and Inflammation
Hartford (CT) Hospital - Integrative Medicine / Why Choose Massage?
University of Maryland -
Complementary Medicine / Massage

Other Sources - Scirus Scientific Search: Listing of Massage Therapy Articles

Selected Books....
Medicine Hands: Massage Therapy for People With Cancer , Gayle MacDonald, MS, LMT, Findhorn Press, 1999, 147 pages (Griefnet.org)  Many professional bodyworkers have been taught that cancer is a contraindication, but Gayle MacDonald affirms "Skilled touch is beneficial at nearly every stage of the cancer experience, during hospitalization, the pre- and post-op period, in the out-patient clinic, during chemotherapy or radiation, recovery at home, remission or cure, and in the end stages of life. Not only are physical needs addressed, but emotional, social and spiritual ones as well." To support her thesis, Ms. MacDonald quotes a body of research which is impressive though still in its early stages. To this, she adds her own and colleagues' experience in hospitals where massage has the support of the oncologists and nursing staff and is practiced alongside standard medical procedures.   The lay reader will be impressed by the range of bodywork modalities which are available for the cancer patient. MacDonald does not attempt to 'teach' these techniques, which are the sphere of the trained professional, but summarizes their methods, benefits and appropriateness for different stages of the disease. 'Massage' ranges from non-touch 'energy' therapies, indicated for the patient whose condition renders even light touch painful or potentially dangerous, to deep touch modalities which can be used in the final stages of recovery.  [http://www.griefnet.org/library/reviews/m/medhandsR.html]

A Physician's Guide to Therapeutic Massage
, John Yates, Ph.D., Curties-Overzet Publishers, 3rd Edition, 2004, 136 pages (Curties-Overzet)  As consumers increasingly choose to blend their use of medical and complementary modalities, practitioners in all health fields are challenged to understand each other's approaches to patient care. The physician who can not provide knowledgeable advice about concurrent use of practices like massage therapy risks being out of touch with the benefits they can provide as well as the health considerations for different patient populations. Massage therapists need an evidence-based understanding of their work and a shared language in order to engage a meaningful dialogues with medical doctors with whom they share patients. A Physician's Guide to Therapeutic Massage integrates what is known about massage therapy effects and indications and summarizes this information in an accessible format for quick reference.
Touch TherapyTiffany Field and Leon Chaitow, Churchill Livingstone; 1st edition, 2000, 255 pages (Churchill Livingstone) Univ. of Miami, FL. Examines the research base of touch or massage therapy and describes the practical application of these results in practice. Addresses the areas of stress reduction, pain reduction, growth and development, immune function, and auto-immune disorders. For massage therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists.

, Tiffany Field, MIT Press - Bradford Books, 2003, 193 pages (MIT Press)  Touch is critical for children's growth, development, and health, as well as for adults' physical and mental well-being. Yet American society, claims Field, is dangerously touch-deprived.  Field, a leading authority on touch and touch therapy, begins this accessible book with an overview of the sociology and anthropology of touching and the basic psychophysical properties of touch. She then reports recent research results on the value of touch therapies, such as massage therapy, for various conditions, including asthma, cancer, autism, and eating disorders.

Benefits of Massage for Patients with Chronic Conditions

            General Benefits:
    Reduces stress and encourages relaxation.   Improves sleep.     Stimulates bowel activity.
                Promotes blood and lymph circulation.   Improves immune system function.
                Reduces or eliminates medications for anxiety, nausea and pain.  Reduces fatigue.
                Increases alertness and mental clarity.   Provides pleasant touch experience.
                Relaxation response progressively deepens in successive sessions.

           Benefits Related to Surgery and Hospital Stays
    Speeds recovery from anesthesia.   Reduces need for pain medication.
                 Promotes faster wound healing.   Increases elasticity of scarred areas.
                 Breaks up adhesions related to scarring.   Decreases edema and lymphedema.
                 Improves range of motion and mobility.   Helps prevent bedsores.    
                 Provides a pleasant distraction.   Provides relief from isolation.
                 Relieves muscle soreness due to prolonged bed rest.   Shortens hospital stay.
                 Reduces fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and loss of appetite resulting from treatment.

Physical Benefits
        Promotes well nourished, healthy skin.   Relaxes tight muscles and improves joint mobility.
        Alleviates many headaches and muscular back pains.   Relieves tired and sore muscles.  
        Speeds recovery from strenous physical exertion.   Deactivates of tender or trigger points. 
        Increases pliability of connective tissues.  

Emotional Benefits
Decreases anxiety and depression.   Increases feelings of wellbeing.
     Offers meaningful social interaction.   Provides time in a safe relationship with a good listener.
     Helps with body acceptance.  Empowers patient participation in the healing process.
     Helps rebuild hope.

Partial Listing of Chronic Conditions Helped by Massage
As reported by physicians, researchers, massage therapists, patients and caregivers.

This list is an ongoing work in progress.  Check back later for additional information. 
Please forward links that you have found particularly helpful to info@mettamassagetherapy.com.   Thank you!

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Multiple Sclerosis
Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)



Authors Cited Below...
1.  Werner, Ruth, Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology, 2nd Edition, Lippincott, 2002, 592 pages
2. Fonkalsrud and Hameluck, Massage Therapy and the Haemodialysis Patient, http://www.wellingtoncollege.com/theses4.html, 1997 , accessed 2004

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
"Massage stimulates a parasympathetic response, cleanses tissues and stimulates circulation when exercise may be too much to handle.  It can also relieve muscle and joint pain and improve sleep.  Studies show that people diagnosed with CFS report lower levels of anxiety and better-quality sleep after receiving massage."   (Adapted from Werner1,  p312)

"Fibromyalgia paitents live in pain.  Their tissues are drowning in irritating chemicals and they lack neurotransmitters that block some of the pain transmission..... Gentle massage is very appropriate....  Research on massage and fibrromyalgia shows that massage is effective for reducing reported levels of pain, anxiety and depression.   Masssage may best be used to create relaxation and aid with toxic flushing,.....   Clients who feel pain free, even for a short period, after massage will feel more able to take control of their own healing process, which is the most important step toward recovery. " (Adapted from Werner1,  p56)
        Premier Massage Therapy Sites:     Peters     Webb

The lives of hemodialysis patients are positively affected through the application of massage. The severity of physical symptoms is lessened.  They have improved sleep patterns, less fatigue, fewer aches and pains and feel better in general.    Improvements in their circulation improve their health; blood pressure is more controlled, edema and muscle atrophy are reduced. The patients become more active and productive while their outlook on life becomes more positive. Hemodialysis provide individuals with kidney failure a longer life and massage provides them with a better quality of life. (Adapted from Fonkalsrud and Hameluck2)

Multiple Sclerosis
"Every client with MS presents symptoms and problems differently.  If sensation is present, massage can be useful as an agent against stress (which seems to trigger relapses), depression and spasticity.  Massage also helps maintain the health and mobility of the tissues.  In areas where sensation is not present, non-mechanical types of work (i.e., very light effleurage and energy work) is more appropriate.   (Adapted from Werner1,  p169)

Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)
MPS absolutely indicated massage, both for its effectiveness at interrupting the pain-spasm chcle and for its ability to help clean up the cellular debris left behind from chronic muscle tightness.  When muscle cells are working, they cannot exchange nutrients for waste products.  Irritating metabbolic wastes accumulate in the tissues, perpetuating soreness and fatigue.  Massage is an excellent mechanism to help flush the waste away."  (Adapted from Werner1,  p61)

"Acute arthritis, like other inflammatory conditions, contraindicates massage.   However, most osteoarthritis patients seldom experience acute swelling with pain, heat and redness.  Chronic osteoarthritis indicates massage, when goals would be to reduce pain through release of the muscles surrounding the affected joint and to maintain range of motion through gentle stretching and passive movement."  (Adapted from Werner1,   p95)

"Gentle massage is indicated for persons with osteoporosis..... Massage does not affect the progression of the disease once it is present, but may significantly reduce associated pain."  (Adapted from Werner1,  p555)

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
"PMS definitely indicates massage and other kinds of bodywork, which have been shown to reduce depression and anxiety and to help ameleriorate some of the fluid retention that makes PMS so physically uncomfortable."  (Adapted from Werner1,   p492)

Massage and The Stresses of Chronic Disease
A Final Thought

In addition to the physical benefits, massage helps patients deal with emotional issues that are a part of their illness process. Many patients are unable to work or are limited in their activities, often leading to depression, fear, anger, stress, boredom, envy, grief, loneliness and lowered self esteem. Massage is a one on one therapy - the patient is the focus of the treatment.  The sole purpose of the treatment is to make the patient feel better, to reconnect him with himself.  The benefits of this caring, supportive, non-threatening touch include relief of apprehension and anxiety and creation of a sense of overall well-being. Massage helps patients increase their activity levels and become more productive,  thereby boosting self esteem and self confidence.  Finally, massage reduces the physical symptoms of stress, including muscle tension and headache, putting the patient at ease.   (Adapted from Fonkalsrud and Hameluck2)

Copyright 2004-2006
Bruce A. Hopkins