Massage clients seek sessions for pain relief, relaxation, stress reduction and additional factors that can vary with physical condition and age. New research indicates massage therapy is associated with a variety of positive outcomes ranging from decreased pain to improved emotional health for adults aged 60 and older who self-reported on quality-of-life measures.

“Persistent pain is a frequent complaint among older adults and can greatly decrease quality of life while also contributing to other negative outcomes such as poor health, increased pharmaceutical medication usage, increased rates of depression, and cognitive decline,” researchers from the Graduate Center for Gerontology at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, noted in an abstract posted on

The purpose of this study was to measure massage therapy’s effect on persistent pain by comparing self-reported health-outcome scores among those who had and had not utilized massage therapy in the past year.

Lexington-area adults aged 60 and older who reported persistent pain were eligible to participate in the study.

The research found massage therapy is associated with less limitation due to physical or emotional issues, better emotional health, more energy, less fatigue, better social functioning, and better overall health in older adults who self-reported on these items.

“While many causes of pain for older adults elude cure, further study is warranted that examines [massage therapy] as an intervention to improve coping in older adults with persistent pain,” the researchers noted.

“Massage Therapy Usage and Reported Health in Older Adults Experiencing Persistent Pain” was published in the Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine.

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