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The safety of massage therapy: an update of a systematic review

PainSci » bibliography » Posadzki et al 2013
updated
Tags: massage, harms, headache, manual therapy, treatment, pain problems, head, head/neck

Three articles on PainSci cite Posadzki 2013: 1. The Complete Guide to Chronic Tension Headaches2. Massage Therapy Side Effects3. Poisoned by Massage

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: To update a systematic review evaluating the safety of massage therapy.

METHODS: A literature search was carried out using four electronic databases for the period December 2001 to May 2012. All articles reporting adverse effects of massage therapy were retrieved. Adverse effects relating to atypical massage, aromatherapeutic massage oil or ice were excluded. No language restrictions were applied. Data were extracted and evaluated according to predefined criteria.

RESULTS: Seventeen case reports and one case series were published since our previous review. The reported adverse effects comprised acute paraplegia and abdominal distension, bladder rupture, bilateral cerebellar infarction, cervical lymphocele, cervical cord injury, cervical internal carotid and vertebral dissection, chylothorax, haematuria, interosseous nerve palsy, myopathy, perinephric haemorrhage, rhabdomyolysis, severe headache, blurred vision, paraesthesia and focal motor seizures. In the majority of the reports, a cause–effect relationship was certain or almost certain. Serious adverse effects were most commonly associated with massage techniques applied to the neck area.

CONCLUSION: Evidence suggests that massage may occasionally lead to moderately severe adverse effects.

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