New Research Showcases Pain-Management Benefits of Massage Therapy, MASSAGE MagazineEvanston, IL. Massage therapy may be a helpful pain-management strategy for individuals suffering from metastatic cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to post-cardiac surgery, according to new research gathered by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

Massage therapy for improved pain and sleep in metastatic cancer patients

Research[1] published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that therapeutic massage at home for metastatic cancer patients can improve their overall quality of life by reducing pain and improving sleep quality. AMTA President Winona Bontrager says of the study, “These findings suggest that cancer patients can also benefit from professional massage, both physically and mentally, providing the necessary comfort during advanced stages of the disease.”

Massage therapy for decreased pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients

Research[2] published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice showed adults with rheumatoid arthritis may feel a decrease in pain, as well as greater grip strength and range of motion in wrists and large upper joints, after receiving regular moderate-pressure massages during a four-week period. “This research demonstrates the potential value of massage therapy for the estimated 1.3 million Americans living with this chronic condition, with women outnumbering men 2.5-14[3]. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers are encouraged to speak with their health care provider about the possibility of incorporating routine massage therapy into their current treatment plan to help manage painful symptoms,” says Bontrager.

Massage therapy for reduced pain, anxiety and muscular tension in cardiac surgery patients

Research[4] published in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery indicates massage therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety and muscular tension, as well as enhance relaxation and satisfaction after cardiac surgery. AMTA acknowledges  cardiac surgery recovery is a crucial time a patient must endure, and this study further suggests massage therapy can be a useful aid in making the road to recovery an easier journey.

View AMTA’s Research Roundup Volume 3 online at

Massage therapy facts

  • In 2012, AMTA estimates massage therapy was an $8 to $12 billion dollar industry
  • Between July 2011 and July 2012, roughly 34.5 million adult Americans (16 percent) had a massage at least once
  • Results from AMTA’s 16th annual consumer survey reveal more Americans are incorporating massage therapy into their regular health and wellness regimens to assist with medical conditions; 75 percent of consumers surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage was medical (43 percent) or stress (32 percent) related
  • 89 percent of individuals believe massage can be effective in reducing pain, with 29 percent of respondents admitting they have used massage therapy for pain relief
  • 50 percent of people claim their doctor has either strongly recommended or encouraged them to get a massage

About AMTA

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is a professional association of more than 56,000 members. AMTA professional members have demonstrated a level of skill and knowledge through education and/or testing and must meet continuing education requirements to retain membership. AMTA provides information about massage therapy to the public and works to improve the professional climate for massage therapists. The association also helps consumers and health care professionals locate qualified massage therapists nationwide, through AMTA’s Find a Massage Therapist(R) free national locator service available at

[1] Toth, M., Marcantonio, E.R., Davis, R.B., et al. “Massage Therapy for Patients with Metastatic Cancer: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2013 January 31.

[2] Field, T., Diego, M., Delgado, J., Garcia, D., Funk, CG., “Rheumatoid Arthritis in Upper Limbs Benefits from Moderate Pressure Massage Therapy.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2013 May;19(2):101-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.12.001.

[3] Helmick CG., et al. “Estimates of the Prevalence of Arthritis and Other Rheumatic Conditions in the United States.” Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2008 January; 58:15-25.

[4] Braun LA. et al., “Massage Therapy for Cardiac Surgery Patients.” The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2012;144:1453-1459.