This treatment modality is thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health. Massage therapy should be used with, not in place of, standard cancer therapy.
What does massage therapy involve?
Massage therapists rhythmically rub and knead the body's soft tissues for therapeutic purposes. Several different types of massage have developed over time in different cultures. These include Swedish massage (most common in the U.S.), Oriental massage, shiatsu and Thai massage. Massages usually occur in a warm, comfortable room and last from thirty minutes to one hour.
How is massage therapy thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health?
Massage promotes muscle relaxation and stress reduction. It can relieve headaches, backaches, joint pain, stiffness and insomnia. As muscles are rubbed, blood vessels dilate, blood flow increases, lymph circulation is stimulated, oxygen supply increases and overall circulation throughout the body is improved. Patients fighting serious diseases such as cancer find massage promotes relaxation, improves quality of life and enhances well-being.
What has been proven about the benefit of massage therapy?
According to the American Cancer Society, massage is "thought almost universally to be a beneficial therapy. It is helpful not only physically but emotionally as well, because it soothes the soul and the mind." Massage cannot cure cancer, but it has been shown in several studies to improve quality of life and well-being. There is some scientific evidence that massage enhances the immune system by increasing blood circulation. In addition, massage was shown to promote relaxation and alleviate pain and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients.
What is the potential risk or harm of massage therapy?
Massage should be avoided immediately following surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and over areas of known tumors. Patients with circulatory ailments such as phlebitis or varicose veins should avoid massage. Massage should never be performed on bruises, areas of tissue damage and inflamed or infected sites.
How much does massage therapy cost?
Cost will vary with the massage therapist. Massage is available in a therapist's private office, spas, health clubs and resorts. Many therapists will also travel to patients' homes.
For additional information:
American Massage Therapy Association
820 Davis Street, Suite 100
Evanston, IL 60201
Telephone: (847) 864-0123
Web site: www.amtamassage.org
Touch Research Institute
University of Miami School of Medicine
PO Box 016820
Coral Gables, FL 33101
Telephone: (305) 243-6781
Web site: www.miami.edu/touch-research/
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.