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15-08-2011 | Article

Massage therapy may have role in bone pain management


Free abstract

MedWire News: Massage therapy (MT) improves mood, muscle relaxation, and bone pain intensity more than verbal therapy in Taiwanese patients with metastatic bone pain, according to research findings.

"Both mood and muscle relaxation measures showed linear (improving) trends over time," explain Mei-Nan Liao (Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan) and team.

They add: "More importantly, the reductions in pain with massage were not only statistically but also clinically meaningful, and the benefits of MT on muscle relaxation were sustained for at least 16-18 hours postintervention."

The study follows previous reports that patients with pain from bony metastases experience marked morbidity and deterioration of quality of life.

Liao and colleagues observed the pain intensity, mood status, muscle relaxation, and sleep quality reported by 72 Taiwanese patients (mean age 50 years) with bone metastases before and after receiving each of three consecutive sessions of MT (n=36; one 45-minute session per day) or social attention (n=36; talking sessions with a therapist) over a 3-day period.

Pain intensity was assessed by patient-completed Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) in which pain was rated on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 represented "no pain" and 10 represented "pain as bad as it could be". Mood was assessed using a similar VAS, but with six mood descriptors, such as anxiety, confusion, depression, and anger, rated on a scale of 0 to 10.

Muscle relaxation and sleep quality were also graded by the same VAS where 0 respectively equalled "muscle as relaxed as it could be" and "my sleep last night was light sleep" and 10 respectively equalled "muscle as tense as possible" and "my sleep last night was deep sleep."

Writing in the journal Pain, the authors report a beneficial effect of MT on pain, mood, and muscle relaxation, as reflected by VAS scores. For example, by the last session of intervention, no significant difference was seen in the pre- and post-intervention pain and mood scores of controls, but these respective scores fell by 38% and 15% among the MT patients.

Covariate analysis revealed that MT produced a linear trend of improvement in mood and relaxation scores over the three days of intervention.

However, MT produced no significant difference in sleep-VAS scores before and after each intervention. The authors therefore recommend future studies "with increased sample sizes, a longer interventional period duration, and an objective and sensitive measure of sleep."

By Lauretta Ihonor