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J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Dec;9(6):837-46.

Efficacy of massage therapy in chronic pain: a pragmatic randomized trial.

Author information

1
Department of Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene, University Hospital Freiburg, Hugstetterstrasse 55, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany. walach@ukl.uni-freiburg.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although classic massage is used widely in Germany and elsewhere for treating chronic pain conditions, there are no randomized controlled trials (RCT).

DESIGN:

Pragmatic RCT of classic massage compared to standard medical care (SMC) in chronic pain conditions of back, neck, shoulders, head and limbs.

OUTCOME MEASURE:

Pain rating (nine-point Likert-scale; predefined main outcome criterion) at pretreatment, post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up, as well as pain adjective list, depression, anxiety, mood, and body concept.

RESULTS:

Because of political and organizational problems, only 29 patients were randomized, 19 to receive massage, 10 to SMC. Pain improved significantly in both groups, but only in the massage group was it still significantly improved at follow-up. Depression and anxiety were improved significantly by both treatments, yet only in the massage group maintained at follow-up.

CONCLUSION:

Despite its limitation resulting from problems with numbers and randomization this study shows that massage can be at least as effective as SMC in chronic pain syndromes. Relative changes are equal, but tend to last longer and to generalize more into psychologic domains. Because this is a pilot study, the results need replication, but our experiences might be useful for other researchers.

PMID:
14736355
DOI:
10.1089/107555303771952181
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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