Abdominal massage for constipation

It decreased the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms, according to researchers at Umeå University in Sweden.

First, the details.

  • 60 people with constipation were randomly assigned to 2 groups.
    • Abdominal massage in addition to an earlier prescribed laxative
    • Control group that took only laxatives according to earlier prescriptions
  • Gastrointestinal function was assessed with the Gastrointestinal Symptoms Rating Scale (GSRS) at the start of the study, week 4 and week 8.

And, the results.

  • Abdominal massage significantly decreased severity of gastrointestinal symptoms, constipation, and abdominal pain.
  • Abdominal massage was associated with a significant increase of bowel movements compared to the control group.
  • There was no difference in the amount of laxative used after 8 weeks.

The bottom line?
Based on the finding that laxative use did not change, the researchers concluded, “Abdominal massage could be a complement to laxatives rather than a substitute.”

There’s limited research in this area. A PubMed search of massage and constipation yielded the following studies.
Functional bowel disorders

  • Massage therapy was used by 12% of patients

Children with cancer

  • A review of the literature revealed that massage therapy might be useful to treat constipation and other symptoms.

A video that illustrates abdominal massage technique is here.

2/18/09 17:23 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.