A meta-analysis of seven studies on massage therapy has revealed that adults suffering from shoulder pain had significantly improved range of motion following massage, according to Massage Magazine
The meta-analysis study looked at data from hundreds of participants across seven different academic studies, and determined improvement in “flexion, extension, abduction, internal rotation and external rotation.”
The most notable improvements came from abduction and flexion, and sports massage was the most effective at achieving this response.
While 89% of massage recipients say that it can be effective for pain reduction, this new study suggests that it actually improves the condition.
The study authors also spoke to the efficacy of massage for elderly individuals with more severe pain.
“In particular, shoulder pain and shoulder ROM limitation causes independent competence disability, including in dressing or hygiene management, which elderly people must conduct by themselves in their everyday lives,” Massage Magazine reports the authors saying, “It is thought that massage that increases the shoulder ROM can improve the quality of life of elderly people.”
Over 2 million elderly individuals end up in the emergency room each year due to injuries caused by falling. Typically canes or other assistive walking devices are used to prevent this, but with unbearable shoulder pain, it isn’t exactly easy.
With 21% of the elderly population suffering from shoulder pain, perhaps massages would pose a noninvasive treatment method to at least mitigate pain, if not improve shoulder condition.
There are many contributing factors to the likelihood of an elderly individual having a fall accident, balance and strength being the two most regularly discussed, but the possibility of chronic shoulder pain preventing some senior citizens from catching themselves or even using canes is all too real.
As the scientific community learns more about massage therapy, they will find applications for it without a doubt. In fact, they already have.
This study has far wider implications for massage as a whole. have already been shown to respond positively to massage: Stress-induced insomnia, anxiety, even Fibromyalgia are on the shortlist of conditions that have some scientific data showing the effectiveness of massage as a medical treatment.
As more meta-analyses are done to find trends in massage efficacy data, we could see more specific indications on what massage practices are beneficial for which types of pain.
This study already indicated that effleurage, petrissage, and friction were more effective as a whole.