Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Pain Management Health Center

Font Size

Need Pain Relief? Massage Gets High Marks

Survey Shows Massage Ranks With Medications for Relief of Pain
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 26, 2005 -- For the treatment of pain, Americans rate massage as highly as medications, a new survey shows.

Conducted by an independent research firm, the annual survey is the ninth commissioned by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

It shows that one in five U.S. adults got a therapeutic massage in the last year. Three-fourths of them would recommend it to others -- one reason for the body therapy's growing popularity.

Among those who actually had a massage in the past year, 28% say massage therapy gives them "the greatest relief from pain." Another 28% say medication gives them the greatest relief. Chiropractic comes in third at 11%, followed by 8% who got the most pain relief from physical therapy, 3% who said acupuncture was best for their pain, and 1% whose pain best responded to biofeedback.

Survey Findings

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corp. International in Princeton, N.J., surveyed a national sample of 1,014 U.S. adults. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%. It found that:

  • 90% of Americans feel massage is good for a person's health.
  • 93% agree with the statement that massage can be effective for pain relief.
  • Use of massage in people age 65 and older has tripled from 4% in 1997 to 15% in 2005.
  • 22% of Americans had a massage in the past year; 34% had a massage in the last five years.
  • 73% of those who had a massage would recommend it to a person they know.
  • 46% of respondents at some time had a massage to relieve pain.
  • Among respondents who discussed massage with their health care provider, 57% said this health professional strongly recommended massage or encouraged them to get a massage.

Whole-Body Approach to Pain

Massaging sore muscles obviously reduces pain. But massage is really meant as a whole-body approach, says AMTA vice president and licensed massage therapist M.K. Brennan, RN, LMBT.

"One of the things about massage that helps pain is that it goes down to the heart of where people feel their pain," Brennan tells WebMD. "There is the overall sense of well-being one can get from the massage approach. And the stress responses in the body associated with pain, such as elevated cortisol, are reduced through massage."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

pain in brain and nerves
Top causes and how to find relief.
knee exercise
8 exercises for less knee pain.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
illustration of nerves in hand
lumbar spine
Woman opening window
Man holding handful of pills
Woman shopping for vegetables
Sore feet with high heel shoes
acupuncture needles in woman's back
man with a migraine