Massage therapy is a popular Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatment that has been shown to help some asthma patients. Massage therapy promotes relaxation, and as stress is a known and common trigger for asthma; it is possible that the relaxation effects of massage could help with asthma symptoms. Moreover, the scalene can become overactive in asthmatics or pain can be associated with the serratus anterior. ‘Trigger Point’ therapy is a common remedial massage technique which can alleviate this condition.
A 2011 complementary medicine research by Fattah et al study was carried out that focused on effect of massage therapy on pulmonary function in children with asthma. The open, randomised controlled trial involved 60 asthmatic Egyptian children. The study took place in the paediatric allergy and chest unit of Cairo’s children university hospital.
Prior to the study, the children were randomly divided in to a control group and a massage therapy group. The children’s parents delivered a 20-minute massage therapy each night for 5 weeks. Both groups received standard asthma treatment for the period of 5 weeks.
Prior to and on completion of the 5-week period, a spirometer was utilised in order to examine pulmonary function in the children. Forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and peak expiratory flow (PEF) were all measured.
Results showed a significantly higher FEV1 in the children who received massage therapy compared to the control group. Likewise, the FEV1/FVC ratio showed a significant improvement in the massage therapy when compared to the control group. On the other hand, no significant difference was found in the FVC between both groups. Similarly, no significant differences were found in the PEF.
In conclusion, this complementary medicine research study showed that massage therapy may be beneficial in treating paediatric asthma, but further research is required in order determine an effective protocols for integrative healthcare solutions.