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Side-effects of massage therapy

updated

Tags: treatment, massage, harms, manual therapy, pain problems

Four articles on PainSci cite Cambron 2007: (1) Does Massage Therapy Work?(2) Post-Exercise, Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness(3) Massage Therapy Side Effects(4) Poisoned by Massage

PainSci summary of Cambron 2007: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com 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 at the bottom of the page, as often as possible.

10% of 100 patients receiving massage therapy reported “some minor discomfort” in the day following treatment. 23% reported unexpected, non-musculoskeletal benefits. Interestingly, that means that most of these patients experienced no noteworthy effect at all, good or bad!

This study did not include enough people to rule out the possibility of rare and/or serious side effects of massage therapy.

For contrast, a more general study of all kinds of manual therapy (see Carnes), including massage, found that 20-40% of treatments will cause some kind of unpleasantness, side effect, or “adverse event” in medicalspeak.

~ 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.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine the amount and type of negative side-effects and positive (unexpected) effects experienced after a massage session.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional.

SETTING: Massage clinic at a health sciences university.

SUBJECTS: Of the 100 new and returning massage therapy clients who agreed to participate, 91 completed all survey questions.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Telephone survey and medical chart review 2-7 days postmassage.

RESULTS: Overall, 10% of the massage clients experienced some minor discomfort after the massage session; however, 23% experienced unexpected, nonmusculoskeletal positive side-effects. The majority of negative symptoms started less than 12 hours after the massage and lasted for 36 hours or less. The majority of positive benefits began immediately after massage and lasted more than 48 hours. No major side-effects occurred during this study.

CONCLUSIONS: This the first known study to define the rate of side-effects after massage therapy treatment. These data are important for risk-benefit analyses of massage care. Larger studies are needed to verify these data and to assess effects of different massage types and durations.

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