Massage Reduces Pain Perception and Hyperalgesia in Experimental Muscle Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Laura A. Frey Law, Stephanie Evans, Jill Knudtson, Steven Nus, Kerri Scholl, Kathleen A. Sluka

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of massage on mechanical hyperalgesia and perceived pain using delayed onset muscle soreness as an endogenous model of myalgia. The participants (no-treatment control, superficial touch, or deep-tissue massage groups) performed eccentric wrist extension exercises at visit 1 to induce DOMS 48 hours later at visit 2. Pain, assessed using VAS and PPT were measured at baseline, after exercise, before treatment, and after treatment. Deep massage decreased pain during muscle stretch. Mechanical hyperalgesia was reduced after both the deep massage and superficial touch groups relative to control.

This randomized, controlled trial suggests that massage is capable of reducing myalgia symptoms by approximately 25% to 50%, varying with assessment technique. Thus, potential analgesia may depend on the pain assessment used. This information may assist clinicians in determining conservative treatment options for patients with myalgia.

The Journal of Pain, 9(8), 714-721

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