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Massage therapy is a specialty that uses soft-tissue manipulation (massages) to improve patients' physical and emotional wellbeing. Massage therapy seeks to release physical tension by applying pressure and movement to the skin, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and body tissue.
Patients may visit massage therapists as complementary treatment to clinical medical care. Generally, massage therapists complete massage therapy education and are certified by their respective state, but some states permit massage therapists to practice without a license.
While any individual can receive massage therapy, it may particularly ease negative symptoms associated with some chronic and acute conditions such as fibromyalgia, cancer, heart disease, and digestive disorders. Research has found massage therapy may lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increase blood circulation. Additional benefits of massage therapy may include:
A massage therapy session begins with an initial evaluation where a massage therapist might ask the patient about his or her medical status and potential pain symptoms. Massage therapy techniques may include:
Massage therapists may collaborate with physical and occupational therapists, rehabilitation medicine specialists, rheumatologists, and pain medicine specialists.