NCCAM Clinical Digest
National Institutes of Health • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The NCCAM Clinical Digest is a monthly e-newsletter that summarizes the state of the science on complementary health practices and a health condition (diabetes, cancer, sleep disorders, etc.)—clinical guidelines, literature searches, research highlights, and information for patients.
In each issue, you'll find evidence-based information for several complementary health practices used for the highlighted condition.
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Massage therapy dates back thousands of years, with roots in many different cultures. The term “massage therapy” includes many different styles and techniques in which the therapist uses varying degrees of pressure and manipulation to muscle and other soft tissue.
A lot of the scientific research on the clinical effects of massage therapy has been carried out. While often preliminary or conflicting, much of the evidence points toward beneficial effects on pain and other symptoms associated with a number of different conditions. For example, there is evidence that massage may help with back pain and may improve quality of life for people with depression, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. However, much of the evidence suggests these effects are short term and that people need to keep getting massages for the benefits to continue.
This issue of the digest provides information on what the science currently says about the clinical effects of massage for several health conditions, including pain, cancer, depression, and others.