The movement to treat the whole person is a lot more developed in Europe than tit is in the United States. So it is always gratifying to see research on integrated medicine on this side of the pond. Even if there are critics who call anything holistic “woo woo,” the fact is that patients like the approach, and there is a developing research base.
A new study from the Mayo Clinic indicates that massage therapy decreases pain levels for patients after heart surgery. During a five-month period in 2005, 58 patients undergoing surgery participated in a pilot study to examine the effect of massage on pain after surgery. Of the 30 who received massage, the mean pain scores were less than 1 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the most painful.
Before the massage therapy, these patients rated their pain at an average of 3 on a 10-point scale. In the control group of 28, pain levels remained the same over the same period, according to findings published in the current issue of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
As a result of the pilot study, Mayo now has a full-time massage therapist available for patients after heart surgery, and a larger, randomized study is under way.
The reason for the study was that patients often report that tension, stress, pain and anxiety get in the way of their recovery after cardiac surgery. Therefore apart from massage, the researchers are also exploring the use of stress management, music therapy and guided imagery as adjuncts to the best of modern medicine.
This makes good sense, and I shall keep you posted as more information is published.