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The merits of massage.

Massage can ease pain after surgery and may complement the use of drugs for patients, according to new research published in the Archives of Surgery.

In a study of 605 men 64 years and older who had major surgery, 200 received nightly 20-minute back massages for four days. On a scale of 1 to 10, those who got massages reported their pain diminished one level faster than those who did not. All participants got comparable dosages of pain-relieving drugs such as morphine. One-third were not comfortable getting massages, so those who did may have been more appreciative and might have reported more pain relief, the study said.

"The effectiveness of massage in reducing both the intensity and unpleasantness of pain suggests that it may act through more than one mechanism," says Allison Mitchinson, who conducted the research at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan. "Massage may ameliorate suffering by helping to relieve the anxiety that so effectively synergizes with pain to create distress."

Massage can dilate blood vessels, raise skin temperature and relax the mind and body. It can also reduce lactic acid levels in aching muscles, stimulate healing of connective tissues and increase lymphatic and blood circulation. Massage may also create mood-boosting endorphins that offer a competing sensation or may even block pain, according to the researchers.

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Title Annotation:Health Roundup: Leading edge research about food & wellness
Publication:Natural Life
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 1, 2008
Words:221
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