Massage may help reduce blood pressure; previous studies on the effect of massage on blood pressure have presented conflicting findings. In addition, no systematic review is available.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the evidence concerning the effect of massage on blood pressure in patients with hypertension or prehypertension.
A search was performed on electronic database records up to October 31, 2013, based on the following medical subject headings or keywords: hypertension, massage, chiropractic, manipulation, and blood pressure. The methodological quality of randomized controlled trials was assessed based on the Cochrane collaboration tool. A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the effect of massage on hypertension. The study selection, data extraction, and validation were performed independently by 2 reviewers.
Nine randomized controlled trials met our inclusion criteria. The results of this study show that massage contributes to significantly enhanced reduction in both systolic blood pressure (SBP) (mean difference, −7.39 mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (mean difference, −5.04 mm Hg) as compared with control treatments in patients with hypertension and prehypertension. The effect size (Hedges g) for SBP and DBP was −0.728 (95% confidence interval, −1.182 to −0.274; P = .002) and −0.334 (95% confidence interval, −0.560 to −0.107; P = .004), respectively.
This systematic review found a medium effect of massage on SBP and a small effect on DBP in patients with hypertension or prehypertension. High-quality randomized controlled trials are urgently required to confirm these results, although the findings of this study can be used to guide future research.