Patients with advanced cancer are finding that massage therapy eases their pain when painkillers fail to work, according to research from the US.
The study carried out at the University of Colarado, Denver followed 380 cancer patients with moderate to severe pain and treated them with Swedish massage or simple therapeutic touch.
Those receiving six 30-minute sessions experienced pain and mood improvement straight away although the benefits were not long-lasting nor did they reduce the dosage of pain medication needed.
Massage therapy is increasingly being used for pain management which can lead to relaxation, improved circulation, a decrease in swelling and inflammation and a release of the natural pain-killing chemicals known as endorphins.
"Especially in people who have advanced cancer and who may have a limited life expectancy, to have some periods of relief from pain and improved mood is very important,'' said lead researcher Jean Kutner, Associate Professor at the University.
"This study gives us some evidence that massage is worth trying.'
The study was funded by the National Centre of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and other cancer and charity foundations. The research appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and other cancer and charitable foundations, appears in today's Annals of Internal Medicine.
This latest research found no danger or damage from massage therapy or therapeutic touch and encourages family and friends to help loved ones suffering with cancer more often.
"While massages should only be done by those with professional massage training, others shouldn't be afraid to reach out", said Professor Kutner.
"Especially for people with advanced disease, they don't often get touched.
"When they do, it's related to a medical procedure. We shouldn't overlook the value of the human touch itself.''
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