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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 49 SOMATIC RESEARCH education Is Massage Therapy Effective for Musculoskeletal Disorders? By Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, PhD THE RESULTS The results of the review included a total of 2,565 participants within the 26 studies. For reduction in pain in the short term, the data demonstrated evidence in favor of massage compared to no treatment in people with shoulder pain and osteoarthritis of the knee, but not in those with low-back pain or neck pain. For improvement in function in the short term, the data also showed evidence in favor of massage compared to no treatment in people with low-back pain, knee arthritis, or shoulder pain. However, when According to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, musculoskeletal disorders are the fourth largest health problem worldwide, affecting 20–50 percent of the population at any given time. 1 The most commonly affected areas include the low back, neck, shoulders, and knees. In fact, of all injuries presenting to emergency departments in the United States, 36 percent are sprains and/or strains of the lower extremity and 16 percent are sprains and/or strains of the upper extremity. 2 Many treatments are utilized for these conditions, including massage therapy. A recent review article by D. C. Bervoets and others tried to answer this question: "Is massage therapy effective for people with musculoskeletal disorders compared to any other treatment or no treatment?" 3 In order to answer this question, the authors searched scientifi c literature databases, including CINAHL, PEDro, and PubMed for clinical trials that included massage therapy for adults with musculoskeletal disorders, excluding those who had severe pathology such as fracture, nerve damage, psychological disorders, or sports injuries. In this article, massage was defi ned as "systematic manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body with rhythmical pressure and stroking." Articles with treatment defi ned as joint manipulation, energy manipulation, or mechanical devices were excluded from the review. Also, massage therapy could not be combined with any other form of care, but rather needed to be a stand-alone treatment, and the comparison therapy could not be an alternative form of massage. Common musculoskeletal disorders were defi ned by the International Classifi cation of Primary Care (ICPC) codes and mainly included diagnoses for low back, neck, shoulder, and knee pain. Included articles were assessed for quality using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations (GRADE) analysis approach, which scores an article based on factors such as fl awed design, high degree of study dropout, and publication bias. A total of 26 clinical trials were included in the review with the following conditions: low-back pain (8 articles), shoulder pain (4), fi bromyalgia (3), knee osteoarthritis (3), chronic musculoskeletal pain (2), neck pain (2), chronic patellar tendinopathy (1), carpal tunnel syndrome (1), hand pain (1), and hand osteoarthritis (1). Massage techniques included Swedish massage (5 articles), Thai massage (4), self-massage (1), or a combination of massage techniques (12). Four studies did not clearly describe the type of massage used. All reviewed articles included outcome measures that focused on either pain (22 articles) or dysfunction (14 articles). Data included in the review were mainly from short- term studies (post-treatment up to 12 weeks) with very few including long-term follow-up.

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