Massage Therapy for Shoulder Pain

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The findings of a systematic review of massage therapy for shoulder pain, published earlier this year, suggest that massage therapy is an effective intervention.

The review and meta-analysis was based on 15 studies covering 635 participants. The characteristics of included studies can be found here.

The review showed that massage therapy had a significant effect on reducing pain in both the short and the long term. The effect sizes for the short-term efficacy of massage therapy were large and robust, with massage out-performing both placebo and no treatment.

The effect sizes for long-term efficacy were more modest. Several studies with small sample sizes showed a benefit from a course of treatments.

The results from this review are consistent with other systematic reviews. A 2014 review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that there is low-quality evidence that soft tissue massage is effective for improving pain, function and range of motion in patients with shoulder pain. A 2013 systematic review found that massage therapy may provide immediate, short-term relief of neck and shoulder pain.


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