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Massage Therapy: A Non-Opioid Solution for Pain Relief Amidst the Opioid Epidemic

Amid the United States' struggle with the opioid epidemic and its widespread impact, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) advocates for the role of massage therapy in alleviating pain. As a non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of individuals, society, and the economy, AMTA, recognizes the potential of massage therapy to benefit millions of Americans suffering from chronic pain.



Recent economic modeling analysis suggests that up to 5 million individuals in the U.S. could find relief through massage therapy, potentially reducing the number of people with addiction disorders by over 100,000 annually. With prescription opioids carrying significant risks of addiction and overdose, health organizations and governmental agencies are exploring alternative approaches to pain management.


AMTA, as a leading voice in the conversation surrounding non-opioid solutions for pain relief, invests membership resources into research, advocacy, and promotion of massage therapy. The association has been recognized with a 2019 ASAE Gold Circle Award for its Advocacy Campaign addressing the opioid epidemic through massage therapy.


Massage Therapy for Pain Relief: A Comprehensive Approach


Chronic pain affects a staggering 50 million Americans, surpassing the combined prevalence of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Massage therapy emerges as a safe and effective option, supported by ongoing research highlighting its benefits for various health conditions.


Five Painful Conditions Addressed by Massage Therapy:


  1. Low-Back Pain: Back pain, a prevalent neurological ailment, sees relief through massage therapy. Studies show a decrease in pain, reduced disability, and lower anxiety/depression among low-back pain sufferers.

  2. Fibromyalgia: For those with fibromyalgia syndrome, massage therapy is a valuable component of an integrative treatment plan. It alleviates pain, improves the quality of life, and reduces anxiety, stiffness, and fatigue.

  3. Post-Operative Pain: Post-operative pain, known to complicate recovery, can be significantly reduced through massage therapy. Recent research indicates its effectiveness in minimizing pain, anxiety, and muscular tension in surgical patients.

  4. Cancer Patients: Cancer-related pain affects one in three patients undergoing treatment. Massage therapy emerges as a holistic approach, relieving pain, stress, nausea, depression, anxiety, and fatigue while improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

  5. Arthritis: Massage therapy proves beneficial for arthritis patients, with Swedish massage reducing pain in osteoarthritis of the knee. Additionally, it enhances grip strength and range of motion in wrists and large upper joints in adults with rheumatoid arthritis.

In conclusion, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of massage therapy in addressing various painful conditions underscores its significance as a non-opioid solution. As we continue to champion the cause, individuals seeking alternatives to traditional pain management methods can explore the transformative benefits of massage therapy.

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