The effectiveness of massage therapy for the orthopaedic patient has not been documented; thus, a review of the published literature was warranted. A considerable proportion of the population experience orthopaedic problems, and many use massage therapy. A review and analysis of the literature between January 1973 and June 2003 yielded tentative results. It appears that massage therapy may be effective for orthopaedic patients with low back problems and potentially beneficial for patients with other orthopaedic problems. Massage therapy appears to be safe, to have high patient satisfaction, and to reduce pain and dysfunction.