Date of Award
Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review
Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant
John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not massage therapy is effective as a non-pharmacologic treatment for individuals suffering from migraines.
STUDY DESIGN: Review of all English language primary randomized controlled trials from 1996-2011.
DATA SOURCES: Three randomized controlled trials were found using Pubmed, CINAHL, and Cochrane databases. These compared massage therapy trials in patients suffering from migraine headaches.
OUTCOMES MEASURED: Each trial measured the outcomes in slightly different ways. The Hernandez et al study used the VITAS pain scale, symptom checklist, headache log, and a sleep log to record outcomes. The Lawler et al study used patient daily diaries of headache frequency, intensity, medication use, and sleep behavior. The Lemstra et al study used a headache diary to record pain intensity, duration, frequency, quality of life, functional status, depressive symptoms, medication use, work status, and health status.
RESULTS: There were statistically significant differences between control and intervention groups that received massage therapy in all three studies. Though each study measured different outcomes, all three showed a statistically significant decrease in migraine frequency for those who received that treatment. Hernandez et al study showed a statistically significant decrease in somatic symptomatology and the pain scale. Lawler et al showed an increase in sleep quality. Lemstra et al showed a decrease in pain intensity, pain duration, and depressive symptomatology as well as an increase in functional status for these patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The results show that massage therapy is an effective non-pharmacologic treatment for those who have migraine headaches. It shows a decrease in migraine frequency, duration, somatic symptomatology, and sleep quality. Additional research is needed on the longterm effects of patients to quantify the impact it has on functional status.
Kirby, Kristin J., "Is Massage Effective As A Non-Pharmacologic Treatment For Individuals Suffering From Migraines?" (2012). PCOM Physician Assistant Studies Student Scholarship. 92.