Massage Therapy for Cancer Pain

Thursday, August 27, 2020 1:17:00 PM


People with cancer experience a variety of potentially debilitating symptoms both as a part of their treatment and as part of the disease itself. Many people with cancer experience pain, fatigue and anxiety, which can have a significant negative impact on their overall quality of life. Massage therapy is one of the options that can help people with cancer relieve many of their symptoms so they can continue to participate in the activities they love.

Relieving Pain

Pain is a common symptom among people with cancer, however the management of that pain is often not adequately discussed. Cancer pain can range from acute to chronic, and can be a result of the treatments or of the disease itself. It affects people at all stages of their cancer journey, from diagnosis, to post-surgical pain, to pain experienced by people in palliative care.

Studies have found that massage therapy can reduce cancer pain as compared to no treatment or conventional care, and can be particularly effective in relieving post-operative pain that many cancer patients experience. Non-pharmacological approaches to managing cancer pain, like massage therapy, are being increasingly recommended by physicians and embraced by patients.

Reducing Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Nearly half of people with cancer experience symptoms of anxiety, whether that is anxiety due to their prognosis, their treatments, or the impacts the illness has on their lives. This worry and anxiety can negatively impact a patient’s ability to cope with their treatment and their diagnosis.

Massage therapy can help people with cancer to reduce their anxiety and can be an important element in managing the emotional consequences of cancer treatment. This anxiety can persist even after someone is in remission due to fear of reoccurrence and changes to previous lifestyle. Regular massage therapy treatment, compared to usual treatment or no treatment can help cancer survivors feel less fearful and reduce their overall anxiety.

Improving Quality of Life
Cancer-related fatigue is common in people with many types of cancer and in people at all stages of cancer treatment. This could be due to side-effects from treatment or the cancer itself. Cancer-related fatigue can have a significant negative impact on quality of life, including impacting mood and reducing the ability to participate in regular activities. Massage therapy has been shown to decrease self-reported fatigue among cancer patients as well as improve their quality of life.

People with advanced cancer in palliative care can still benefit from massage therapy treatment. Massage therapy can improve these patients’ quality of life near the end of their lives. Massage therapy has been found to have an immediate effect on decreasing both worry and pain for people with cancer receiving palliative care, which has a positive impact on quality of life.

Massage Therapy Can Help

Massage therapy is a safe and effective option to help people with cancer to manage potentially debilitating symptoms related to their treatment or to their illness itself. Whether it’s finding relief from pain, reducing anxiety about treatment or improving overall quality of life, massage therapy is a great addition to the treatment plan of a person with cancer. Cancer, and treatment for cancer, can prevent people from playing with their kids, participating in their favourite sport, continuing with their crafts or gardening, or just fully experiencing the activities they love. Although symptoms such as pain or anxiety are common among people with cancer, there are effective options available to alleviate those symptoms, and massage therapy treatments are one of those effective options.

References

Boyd, C., Crawford, C., Paat, C. F., Price, A., Xenakis, L., Zhang, W., & Evidence for Massage Therapy (EMT) Working Group (2016). The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part II, Cancer Pain

Cowen, V. S., & Tafuto, B. (2018). Integration of Massage Therapy in Outpatient Cancer Care. International journal of therapeutic massage & bodywork, 11(1), 4–10.

Daeninck, P., Gagnon, B., Gallagher, R., Henderson, J. D., Shir, Y., Zimmermann, C., & Lapointe, B. (2016). Canadian recommendations for the management of breakthrough cancer pain. Current oncology (Toronto, Ont.), 23(2), 96–108.

Falkensteiner M, Mantovan F, Müller I, Them C. The use of massage therapy for reducing pain, anxiety, and depression in oncological palliative care patients: a narrative review of the literature. ISRN Nurs. 2011;2011:929868

Genik LM, McMurtry CM, Marshall S, Rapoport A, Stinson J. (2020) Massage therapy for symptom reduction and improved quality of life in children with cancer in palliative care: A pilot study. Complement Ther Med. 2020;48:102263.

Kinkead, B., Schettler, P. J., Larson, E. R., Carroll, D., Sharenko, M., Nettles, J., Edwards, S. A., Miller, A. H., Torres, M. A., Dunlop, B. W., Rakofsky, J. J., & Rapaport, M. H. (2018). Massage therapy decreases cancer-related fatigue: Results from a randomized early phase trial. Cancer, 124(3), 546–554.

Nikbakhsh, N., Moudi, S., Abbasian, S., & Khafri, S. (2014). Prevalence of depression and anxiety among cancer patients. Caspian journal of internal medicine, 5(3), 167–170.

SH, Kim JY, Yeo S, et al. (2015). Meta-analysis of massage therapy on cancer pain. Integr Cancer Ther 2015;14:297–304;

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Tags: massage therapy, pain, cancer, benefits of massage therapy