One Size Fits None – Massage Therapy

Where massage therapy fits in patient-centered, integrated health care model

Dr. Wayne Jonas is the president and CEO of the Samueli Institute, the organization that recently conducted a collaborative meta-analysis of research on massage therapy for pain, commissioned by the Massage Therapy Foundation with support from the American Massage Therapy Foundation.

Meta-analysis, considered an evidence-based resource, is a consolidated and quantitative review of a large body of research. And a meta-analysis in the world of massage therapy is ground breaking. This is the first study to rigorously assess the quality of massage therapy research and evidence for its efficacy and effectiveness in treating pain and function-related and health-related quality of life outcomes for people with various types of pain.

According to the evidence, massage therapy can provide significant improvement for pain, anxiety and health-related quality of life for those looking to manage their pain. Jonas urged health-care providers and agencies to prepare for the first of the baby boomers hitting the age of 65 and the impending tsunami of chronic illness coming in its wake. It is well established that pain is often partnered with chronic illness.

In the U.S alone, opioid use escalated by over 60 per cent between the years 2000 and 2010 (likely due to boomers and returning veterans). In 2013, drug overdose was the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., the majority of which related to prescription opiod medications often in combination opioid medications often in combination with benzodiazepines – reinforcing the importance of utilizing other approaches to pain management.

Jonas, a champion of patient-centered, integrated, multidisciplinary, non-pharmacological and patient self management approaches, suggested the massage therapy profession step up (armed with solid evidence that massage therapy works) and identify for stakeholders and policy makers how we can be part of the solution to this considerable problem.