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Pain Management

Why Massage Therapy Is a Real Option for Managing Pain

Most adult Americans recognize that massage therapy can be an important part of pain relief and management. In a 2019 survey commissioned by AMTA, 44 percent of those who had a massage in the past five years said they sought their last massage for pain, stiffness, spasms, or recovery from an injury. In that same survey, 87 percent agreed that massage therapy can be an effective way to reduce pain. 

Massage therapy is now a well-accepted, non-pharmacological therapy for managing pain. It is recognized by the National Institutes of Health and included in non-pharmacological pain guidelines issued by The Joint Commission, as well as the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards. It is recognized by the Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration as an effective treatment for chronic pain.

There is significant evidence supporting the inclusion of massage therapy for many important patient health treatments, including for chronic pain management (such as back pain, headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, neck and shoulder pain, fibromyalgia, and hospice care), rehabilitation/physical training (athletic training/injury treatment, ergonomics and job-related injuries, cardiac rehab, joint replacement surgery), and acute medical  conditions (cancer management, post-operative pain). It can be an effective alternative to opioids for many types of pain. 

Cost effective

Massage therapy is also a cost-effective pain management method when comparison to opioids. An economic study by John Dunham and Associates in 2018 indicated that substituting massage therapy for opioids (where research shows massage to be beneficial) could save the U.S. economy as much as $25 billion per year. 

Incorporating massage therapy into pain management can help many people suffering from chronic or acute pain. 

If you have back pain, arthritis, post-surgical pain, an athletic or work-related injury, or acute muscle pain, ask your doctor if massage therapy could help you. You can look for a professional massage therapist near you at, a free service of the non-profit AMTA.Learn more about massage therapy for pain relief and pain management at

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