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Massage Therapy Increasingly Sought For Pain Relief

Three National Surveys Show More People are Seeking Massage for Relief and Management of Pain

(Evanston, IL – October 15, 2003) - Many people already know that massage therapy helps relieve muscle soreness. But a new consumer survey released today by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reveals that more people than ever before seek massage specifically to manage and relieve pain. The survey shows that nearly half (47 percent) of those polled have had a massage at some time, specifically for pain relief and/or pain management. The percentage is even higher (58 percent) among 18-24 year olds as well as those ages 35-44. What's more, 91 percent of adults polled agreed that massage therapy can be effective in reducing pain. Two other national surveys reinforce these findings.

A survey of massage clients conducted by AMTA member massage therapists and a national survey sponsored by the American Hospital Association (AHA) show that a large number of consumers and health care providers are using massage therapy for pain management and for other important health benefits.  AMTA's client survey shows that 63 percent of massage clients polled believe massage therapy provides the greatest pain relief when compared to chiropractic services, acupuncture, physical therapy and other bodywork. Ninety-six percent of those surveyed by their massage therapist would use massage again for pain relief. And nearly three-quarters of those polled, 74 percent, experienced a temporary reduction in pain following their massage, 14 percent experienced a permanent elimination of pain.

Consumers aren't alone. In fact, 62 percent of health care providers who had discussed massage therapy with their patients strongly recommended or encouraged them to get a massage. Seniors are also recognizing the benefits of massage for pain relief - more than half of those 65 and older who got a massage in the past five years did so to relieve pain, for injury or muscle soreness or as part of a physical therapy regimen.

A survey of hospitals scheduled for release this week by the American Hospital Association, with support from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), polled hospitals about their use of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) therapies. Of the 1,007 hospitals responding to the survey, 82 percent of the hospitals offering CAM therapies included massage therapy among their health care offerings -with more than 70 percent utilizing massage therapy for pain management and pain relief.

"These numbers clearly demonstrate that a greater number of people and medical professionals are recognizing that massage is more than a means for pampering or relaxation. Massage therapy has numerous health benefits including the ability to relieve pain - whether it be lower back pain, other muscle or joint pain, or for pain following surgeries," said Brenda L. Griffith, president of AMTA. "And, an increasing number of people among all age groups seek the therapeutic benefits of massage."

Overall, more people are getting massages than in previous years, whether for pain relief or other health reasons. More than one in five adults surveyed said they had received a massage within the last year, a double-digit jump (13 percentage points) since 1997, the first year the survey was conducted. When asked if they had received a massage within the past five years, nearly a third (32 percent) of adults answered affirmatively, with 39 percent of 45-54 year olds giving that response, a 12 percentage point jump since last
year. Twenty-eight percent of those polled expect to get a massage within the next year, up from 25 percent a year ago.

A greater number of people today - more than half of those polled (52 percent) - are viewing their massage therapist as a health care practitioner, a reflection of the growing awareness of massage's many health benefits, including pain relief. Massage therapy has also been proven to help relieve stress and to help reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Research has shown that massage also boosts the body's immune system functioning and increases the body's natural "killer cells" activity.

Younger people view massage in a positive light and recognize its health benefits. Of those 18-24 years of age, 99 percent agree that massage can be beneficial to one's health and 95 percent of 25-34 year olds agree with this statement. The figure is 90 percent for all age groups.

The annual consumer survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, International August 14-17, 2003, among a national probability sample of 1,015 adults (513 men and 502 women) ages 18 and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The survey has a confidence level of plus or minus 3 percent. Commissioned by AMTA, this is the seventh annual massage therapy survey of American consumers. AMTA is releasing this data in conjunction with its National Massage Therapy Awareness Week (NMTAW), a week dedicated to educating consumers on how massage effectively helps relieve pain, bolster the immune system, relieve stress, increase endorphins and reduce scar tissue. This year's NMTAW theme is "Relieve Pain with Massage."

From May through July 2003, AMTA members surveyed clients seeking massage for pain relief for their perceptions of the effects of the massage. Nearly 2,000 completed questionnaires (1,993) were received.  According to Health Forum, which conducted the survey of hospitals for the American Hospital Association (AHA), 6,105 hospitals were sent the survey on use of CAM therapies. A total of 1,007 hospitals responded to the survey, with 269 (26.7 percent) reporting that they use some type of CAM therapy. Two hundred twenty hospitals listed use of massage therapy - the highest use for any CAM therapy. In 2002, the AHA hospital survey showed that 16.7 percent of hospitals responding incorporated CAM therapies into the care they provide.

In honor of NMTAW, AMTA massage therapists across the country will host events and massage demonstrations in their communities during the week of October 19. AMTA spokespeople would be happy to participate in interviews about the benefits of massage during this important week. Detailed consumer survey findings and clinical research citations are available in the "News Room" of the AMTA's Web site, www.amtamassage.org. AMTA wants to provide consumers with information on what to expect during a massage and tips to help them find a qualified massage therapist. Consumers can find this information on AMTA's Web site, www.amtamassage.org.  AMTA also offers a free service to help consumers find a massage therapist in their area. Simply log on to AMTA's Web site and click on "Find a Massage Therapist," or call toll-free to 888-THE-AMTA.

AMTA is a professional association of more than 46,000 members. All AMTA Professional members have demonstrated a level of skill and knowledge through education and/or testing and are required to provide proof of continuing education to retain membership.