Massage Impact on Chronic Pain in Opioid Dependent Patients

AWARD TYPE: Past Research Grants

Katharina Wiest, PhD, MSPH
CODA, Inc., Portland, OR

Katherina Wiest was interviewed about her research study for Massage Today. Click here for the article.

Chronic pain is a common cause of health care utilization and represents a major health concern. For patients beginning substance use treatment, chronic pain is more prevalent among patients with opioid dependence relative to patients with other dependences. Previous scientific research has not connected massage, chronic pain and substance use treatment success. Although massage has been demonstrated to alleviate chronic pain symptoms, its use as an adjunctive therapy to modify chronic pain during opioid treatment is absent from the literature. Given the strong biologic basis for the efficacy of massage and the high level of massage acceptance in opioid dependent patients, this trial may provide insight into massage’s potential as a non-pharmacologic chronic pain treatment. The study uses a prospective, randomized, intent-to-treat, clinical trial to assess the relative efficacy of Swedish massage on chronic pain in opioid dependent adult patients receiving methadone treatment. The primary aim is to measure the effect of massage on pain intensity. Eligible participants will be randomized to either (1) intervention arm of 8 weekly 1 hour Swedish massage sessions + treatment as usual (TAU) (n=25) or (2) TAU alone (n=25). At 4 weeks after the last study visit for both massage and TAU groups, a follow-up assessment is conducted to assess durability of treatment effect. Data elements pertaining to pain and potential confounders are collected and analyzed. Findings from this trial should be viewed as preliminary. Massage may offer an exciting non-pharmacologic option as part of the treatment arsenal for opioid dependence.