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Massage Blog

Massage and Anxiety

It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can assist in reducing the symptoms of anxiety.

Background Information

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.  Anxiety and its disorders shape the quality of life and the health of those  individuals affected.

Research indicates massage can:

Reduce anxiety:

  • in psychiatric patients
  • in those with chronic pain
  • for cancer patients
  • for patients undergoing bone marrow transplants
  • in children with illnesses
  • in nurses
  • associated with lower back pain
  • in those with headaches
  • in patients awaiting invasive cardiovascular procedures
  • in healthy adults
  • in patients with generalized anxiety disorder
  • in patients under local anesthesia
  • in stroke patients
  • in the elderly
  • in children and adolescent psychiatric patients
  • in those at the end of life
  • in adults with hand pain
  • in patients with fibromyalgia
  • in patients withdrawing from psychoactive drugs
  • in burned adolescents
  • in patients with congestive heart failure
  • in women in labor

increase a sense of calm/reduce anxiety after surgery
reduce anxiety pre-surgery
reduce trait anxiety with a course of treatment providing benefits similar to psychotherapy
reduce the psychological and physiological anxiety levels in patients having cataract surgery
increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety
decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety


1. Anxiety Disorders. (2009). Retrieved April 8, 2009, from National Institute of Mental Health website.

Massage Therapy as Beneficial Part of Integrative Treatment Plan for Fibromyalgia

It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can be a beneficial part of an integrative treatment plan for those who suffer with fibromyalgia syndrome.

Background Information

“Fibromyalgia syndrome is a group of signs and symptoms that include chronic pain in muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissues. It is one of a collection of chronic disorders that often go hand in hand. [sic]  Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is frequently seen with chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, sleep disorders and several other chronic conditions. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Scientists estimate that fibromyalgia affects 5 million Americans 18 or older. Between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women. However, men and children also can have the disorder.  A survey conducted with those who have FMS indicates that 98% of those surveyed used some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to help manage their disorder. In that study, the researchers found that 44% of those surveyed chose massage therapy. In other evidence, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) states: ” Fibromyalgia is another pain condition frequently seen by health care providers, and one in which there often is no universally effective treatment. Studies have found that up to 91 percent of people with fibromyalgia use some form of CAM, and up to 75 percent use massage therapy.

Although some sample sizes are small, research indicates that in respect to fibromyalgia syndrome massage can:

  • reduce pain
  • improve health status
  • improve quality of life
  • decrease anxiety
  • decrease depression
  • increase sleep hours
  • increase quality of sleep
  • improve quality of sleep over time
  • reduce tender points
  • decrease urinary CRF-LI (a biochemical marker of stress-related symptoms)
  • decrease use of analgesics
  • decrease cortisol levels
  • decrease stiffness
  • decrease fatigue
  • work well in an integrative treatment plan


1. Werner, R. (2009). Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology: Fourth Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

2. What Is Fibromyalgia?: Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the Public. (2009). Retrieved January 22, 2010 from National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) website: