Investigating the Mechanisms of Massage Efficacy: The Role of Mechanical Immunomodulation

Our goal is to provide a framework that describes our current understanding of the mechanisms whereby massage therapy activates potentially beneficial immunomodulatory pathways

Christine Waters-Banker; Esther E. Dupont-Versteegden; Patrick H. Kitzman; Timothy A. Butterfield

2014

Scholarcy highlights

  • Complementary and alternative medicine, sometimes referred to as complementary integrative medicine, is steadily gaining popularity
  • Our goal is to provide a framework that describes our current understanding of the mechanisms whereby massage therapy activates potentially beneficial immunomodulatory pathways
  • Previous investigations regarding the efficacy of massage have been highly variable and inconclusive, most likely due to a lack of randomized control trials and inherent challenges associated with investigating the effects of massage, such as inconsistent modes of massage application, applied forces, and duration of reported massage application
  • Beginning with an overview of the inflammatory response, readers will gain an in-depth understanding of immune-cell function and how endogenous chemicals released in this process affect pain transmission through the sensitization of afferent nerve fibers
  • Macrophages that engulf apoptotic neutrophils prevent the release of neutrophil cytotoxic chemicals, ceasing respiratory burst and increasing the secretion of transforming growth factor b and interleukin 4.15,56 The release of transforming growth factor b and interleukin 4 results in decreased release of proinflammatory cytokines and promotes a transition to the T helper 2 cytokine pathway
  • Further mechanistic investigations of massage are critical to establish a better understanding of its beneficial immunomodulatory effects
  • Identifying specific signaling pathways that massage affects will provide insight into the proper clinical application through the creation of an advantageous inflammatory environment to promote repair

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