Prescription opioids carry serious risk of addiction, abuse, and overdose, in addition to a number of side effects, even when taken as directed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999.
For that reason, a number of health organizations and governmental agencies are seriously looking at alternative ways to manage pain.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) continues to be actively engaged with several organizations, as well as federal and state governmental agencies regarding massage therapy for pain and specifically an an alternative to opioids.
Based on the evidence, massage therapy, compared to no treatment, should be strongly recommended as a pain management option. Massage therapy is conditionally recommended for reducing pain, compared to other sham or active comparators, and improving mood and health-related quality of life, compared to other active comparators.
Pain is multi-dimensional and may be better addressed through an integrative approach. Massage therapy is commonly used among people seeking pain management and research has generally supported its use. But, until now there has been no published, rigorous review of the available research and evidence for its efficacy for people with various types of pain.
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