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Abstract: Massage Better Than Relaxation Therapy for Fibromyalgia

  [ 47 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • June 17, 2002

By Laurie Barclay, M.D.

NEW YORK (MedscapeWire) May 10 — In a randomized trial comparing massage therapy with relaxation therapy for fibromyalgia, only massage therapy offered long-term benefits. The report appears in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology.

"Massage therapy was expected to increase restorative sleep, decrease substance P levels, and reduce pain," write Tiffany Field, from the University of Miami School of Medicine, and colleagues.

In 24 adult fibromyalgia patients randomized to massage or relaxation therapy consisting of 30-minute treatments twice weekly for 5 weeks, both groups showed decreased anxiety and depressed mood immediately after the first and last therapy sessions.

During the course of the study, only the massage therapy group reported increased number of sleep hours and decreased frequency of sleep movements. Substance P levels decreased, as did physician's ratings of pain, disease, and number of tender points.

"It would be important to compare massage therapy with other therapies that have been effective with fibromyalgia, including cognitive behavior therapy and other complementary therapies such as acupuncture and EEG-driven stimulation," the authors write.

J Clin Rheumatol. 2002;8(2):72-76
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

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