Massage Therapy Research Review

Massage Therapy Research Review

Tiffany Field, PhD

University of Miami/Miller School of Medicine and Fielding Graduate University

This narrative review on massage therapy effects involved a literature search for research that was published in the years 2016-2020. The review includes studies on massage therapy effects on preterm pain and growth, newborn hyperbilirubinemia and infant colic. The pediatric literature includes studies on behavior problems including ADHD and aggression and physical conditions including diarrhea, asthma, immune function and pain. The adult studies include massage therapy effects on psychological problems including stress and anxiety and physical conditions including fatigue, sleep disturbances, post-burn scarring, gastrointestinal problems and dementia. The musculoskeletal studies are focused on range of motion, balance, muscle activity, grip strength and performance recovery. The massage for pain literature is the most extensive including pain associated with labor, cesarean delivery, shoulder, neck, low back and upper back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, neuropathy, post-surgery, hospice and aging. The physiological/biochemical measures that have been used include systolic and diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, vagal activity, facial blood flow, EEG, cortisol and oxytocin. This section is followed by a discussion on potential underlying mechanisms and methodological limitations. The research continues to have methodological limitations including that the studies cannot be double blinded, they are typically not multivariate studies and they are often biased by their reliance on self-report. Nonetheless, the randomized controlled trials included here as well as systematic reviews and meta-analyses have concluded that massage therapy is typically effective when it is compared to treatment as usual control groups, More research is needed on massage therapy versus active control groups (e.g. exercise and physical therapy) in randomized, controlled trials.

Keywords: Massage Therapy; Research Review

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How to cite this article:
Tiffany Field. Massage Therapy Research Review. International Journal of Psychological Research and Reviews, 2021, 4:45. DOI: 10.28933/ijprr-2020-12-0805


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