Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Massage vs minimal exercise for poor circulation

PainSci » bibliography » Ramos-González et al 2012
Tags: treatment, massage, circ, physical therapy, manual therapy, modalities

One page on PainSci cites Ramos-González 2012: Does Massage Increase Circulation?

PainSci commentary on Ramos-González 2012: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

This low quality study compared the effects of massage and minimal exercise therapy on poor circulation (venous insufficiency) in post-menopausal women. Superficially it looks like a good news story for massage, and in some ways it is. Massage did have a positive effect and seems to have “increased circulation” in one sense, but there’s a lot of caveats here.

The authors tout only the statistical significance of their results, not their size, which almost always means a real effect that was too small to emphasize. Indeed, the effects of massage were positive but modest at best, and in many cases trivial. There were a lot of measures of success, and none changed all that much. The phrase “damned with faint praise” comes to mind, as it so often does in massage science.

Some of the measures also seemed barely useful. If I got that much massage, I’d probably feel like my “quality of life” had improved too! But I’m not sure that would have much to do with a small improvement in my venous insufficiency.

And it was really a lot of massage (expensive in the real world).

And the pure “kinesiotherapy” treatment was super basic — this control group barely did more than wiggle their toes and clench their thighs, so it’s hardly surprising that they didn’t improve much. I wish the study had included a third group doing more exercise, perhaps a half hour of brisk walking per day. There’s a really excellent chance walkers would have performed as well or even far better than massage. And walking is notably a lot cheaper than massage.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

OBJECTIVES: Venous insufficiency is present in a large number of postmenopausal women, increasing their risk of disability. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of myofascial release therapy and conventional kinesiotherapy on venous blood circulation, pain and quality of life in postmenopausal patients with venous insufficiency.

METHODS: A randomised controlled trial was undertaken. We enrolled 65 postmenopausal women with stage I or II venous insufficiency on the clinical, aetiological, anatomical and physiopathological (CEAP) scale of venous disorders, randomly assigning them to a control (n=32) or experimental (n=33) group. The control and experimental group patients underwent physical venous return therapy (kinesiotherapy) for a 10-week period, during which the experimental group patients also received 20 sessions of myofascial release therapy. Main outcome measures determined pre- and post-intervention were blood pressure, cell mass, intracellular water, basal metabolism, venous velocity, skin temperature, pain and quality of life.

RESULTS: Basal metabolism (P<0.047), intracellular water (P<0.041), diastolic blood pressure (P<0.046), venous blood flow velocity (P<0.048), pain (P<0.039) and emotional role (P<0.047) were significantly higher in the experimental group than in the control group after the 10-week treatment programme.

CONCLUSION: The combination of myofascial release therapy and kinesiotherapy improves the venous return blood flow, pain and quality of life in postmenopausal women with venous insufficiency.

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:

PainSci Member Login » Submit your email to unlock member content. If you can’t remember/access your registration email, please contact me. ~ Paul Ingraham, PainSci Publisher