Impact of medications on massage

Drs. Wendy Smith and Lincy Lal from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston have reviewed the implications for pharmaceutical care.

Treatment planning strategies can vary according to the patient and/or medication.

Drug therapy for chronic diseases

  • Examples: insulin for diabetes, beta-blockers for hypertension
  • Patients are less likely to require treatment schedule modification because their condition and drug treatment are usually stable.

New drug therapy or drug therapy for an acute condition

  • Example: opiates for pain
  • May require more extensive treatment planning in order to receive safe and effective massage therapy.

Pain medicine

  • Examples: non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), narcotic analgesics, and central nervous system (CNS) depressants
  • Patients may not be able to provide accurate feedback regarding the comfort of techniques and methods used during massage therapy.
  • Techniques or methods that normally cause discomfort may become more tolerable than they should.

Medications used for short-term minor conditions

  • Patients should take their drugs just before or soon after their massage to ensure that drug blood levels are at their lowest during massage.

Fatigue-inducing medications

  • Examples: blood pressure drugs and chemotherapy
  • Patients may become more fatigued after massage therapy begins, requiring massage to be shortened and more specific.

Drugs that cause anxiety, depression, and mood fluctuations

  • These side effects may become worse during massage therapy.

The bottom line?
The authors include a table of drugs that might influence manual techniques.

5/20/09 21:25 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, a complementary and alternative medicine website.