Pain and depression are common symptoms for people with cancer near the end of life. For those with advanced cancer in hospice care, the focus is on comfort. Although pain medications can provide relief, they can have unwanted side effects. Now, massage therapy is considered an option that not only appears to immediately relieve pain, but improve mood as well.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health that conducted the study think that massage therapy relieves pain by reducing swelling and increasing circulation. The researchers also think that massage therapy provides a relaxing break that promotes the release of “happy” natural brain chemicals (endorphins). The relief provided by massage therapy is not long lasting, but for the short-term appears to be a worthwhile alternative.