Massage Therapy for Cancer Patients: A Reciprocal Relationship Between Body and Mind
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Some cancer patients use therapeutic massage to reduce symptoms, improve coping, and enhance quality of life. Although a meta-analysis concludes that massage can confer short-term benefits in terms of psychological wellbeing and reduction of some symptoms, additional validated randomized controlled studies are necessary to determine specific indications for various types of therapeutic massage. In addition, mechanistic studies need to be conducted to discriminate the relative contributions of the therapist and of the reciprocal relationship between body and mind in the subject. Nuclear magnetic resonance techniques can be used to capture dynamic in vivo responses to biomechanical signals induced by massage of myofascial tissue. The relationship of myofascial communication systems (called "meridians") to activity in the subcortical central nervous system can be evaluated. Understanding this relationship has important implications for symptom control in cancer patients, because it opens up new research avenues that link self-reported pain with the subjective quality of suffering. The reciprocal body-mind relationship is an important target for manipulation therapies that can reduce suffering.
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