Growing Evidence of the Efficacy of Massage Therapy for Veterans

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the nation’s largest healthcare system, has been at the forefront of providing Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) approaches for pain management, including massage therapy for years now. New research continues to support evidence that massage therapy benefits the health and well-being of our U.S. veterans.

Evidence Map of Massage Therapy: Update from 2018 to 2023

The VA Health Services Research & Development Department recently recognized the potential benefit of massage therapy with moderate certainty of evidence in six reviews that have been published since July 2018. Since the previous evidence map only included conclusions of low and very low certainty of evidence, these six new reviews with moderate certainty of evidence suggest that massage therapy has a stronger evidence base today than in 2018. According to this new evidence, massage therapy is likely to benefit conditions such as chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, and myofascial pain. 

More Massage Therapy Research Is Still Needed 

Massage therapy has seen a dramatic increase in the number of uses and visits since 2016 across the VA healthcare system. While there have been great strides in advancing massage as an important part of integrative healthcare for veterans, additional research is still needed to keep moving forward. More high-quality randomized controlled trials are necessary to provide a stronger evidence base to continue to assess the effect of massage therapy for pain and health conditions.  

Learn more about the VA's latest evidence map of massage therapy