Research: HASSON and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 99


HASSON and colleagues, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden,, have conducted a trial of the effects of massage compared to relaxation tape recordings on chronic pain.


Long-term musculoskeletal pain is a common but difficult to treat problem in primary health care. Two common treatments are relaxation and massage. Scientific studies show contradictory results. Furthermore, many studies lack long-term follow-up data which are vital in chronic conditions. The aim of this study was to compare massage with relaxation tapes as a treatment for diffuse long-term musculoskeletal pain.


129 patients were randomized to either a massage or a relaxation group and assessed before, during and after the treatment.


During treatment, there was a significant improvement in self-rated health, mental energy, and muscle pain in the massage group as compared to the relaxation group. At 3-months follow-up, this effect was reversed back to baseline.


Massage, but not relaxation, provides a short-term benefit for chronic diffuse musculoskeletal pain. The authors recommend further studies incorporating longer treatment periods, and studies assessing booster treatments after initial intense treatment periods.


Hasson D, Arnetz B, Jelveus L, Edelstam B. A randomized clinical trial of the treatment effects of massage compared to relaxation tape recordings on diffuse long-term pain. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 73 (1): 17-24, Jan 2004.

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