Does massage therapy “work”? What do massage therapists say that they will do for people and their pain, and is there any scientific evidence to support those claims? Can massage therapists erase sore “trigger points”? Massage may be a popular treatment for tough, common pain problems like low back pain, neck pain, and headaches — but can it provide meaningful change, or does it just pleasantly distract patients and perhaps take the sting off? during this article, I examine massage therapy within the light of science — not “objectively,” but fairly.1 i’m going out of my thanks to be critical of my former profession — I consider it an ethical duty. Health professionals must be self-critical and important of every other: that’s how we improve.
This article is curmudgeonly and cynical in some ways , but I also still recommend massage therapy. it’s some plausible medical benefits, albeit they’re inconsistent and unproven. More importantly, the emotional value of touch and therefore the effects on mood and psychological state are so profound that patients really just cannot lose — good quality massage therapy may be a worthwhile service for anyone who can afford it whether it “works” as a treatment or not. There are some ways that ethical, progressive, science-respecting massage therapists can thrive in their profession despite the very fact that it’s quite badly polluted with myths and quackery.