Massage therapy and the opioid crisis

The opioid addiction crisis has prompted physicians and patients to look to nonpharmacologic pain management strategies for those who suffer from chronic pain or injuries. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a document calling for an approach to treatment that would include mental health, social and work concerns of the patient, as well as alternative therapies.

Massage therapy has been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of chronic conditions like neck and back pain, and now, there is evidence that massage may even reduce the cost of the national opioid crisis. In fact, the Joint Commission called massage, as well as acupuncture therapy, chiropractic therapy, osteopathy, and relaxation therapy, valuable nonpharmacologic approaches.

Based on an economic modeling analysis commissioned by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), providing massage therapy as an alternative to opioid medication could benefit as many as 5 million patients, and save the U.S. between “$23.59 and $25.99 billion annually in social and economic costs.”

With an estimated cost of the opioid crisis over 500 billion dollars, massage therapy has the potential to reduce the number of people with addiction disorder by 111,137 per year. With a cost that great, it is essential for our medical communities to consider alternative treatments like massage therapy that can have lasting benefits without the financial and emotional price tag of opioids.