Acute effects of traditional Thai massage on electroencephalogram in patients with scapulocostal syndrome

Complement Ther Med. 2012 Aug;20(4):167-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Mar 2.


Objective: To investigate acute effects of traditional Thai massage (TTM) on brain electrical activity (electroencephalogram (EEG) signals), anxiety and pain in patients with scapulocostal syndrome (SCS).

Design: A single-blind, randomized clinical trial.

Setting: The School of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences, Khon Kaen University, Thailand.

Intervention: Forty patients, who were diagnosed with SCS, were randomly allocated to receive a 30-min session of either TTM or physical therapy (PT) using ultrasound therapy and hot packs.

Outcomes: Electroencephalogram (EEG), State Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and pain intensity rating.

Results: Results showed that both TTM and PT were associated with significant decreases in anxiety and pain intensity (p<0.01). However, there was a significantly greater reduction in anxiety and pain intensity for the TTM group when compared with the PT group. Analysis of EEG in the TTM group showed a significant increase in relaxation, manifested as an increase in delta activity (p<0.05) and a decrease in theta, alpha and beta activity (p<0.01). Similar changes were not found in the PT group. The EEG measures were also significantly different when compared between the groups (p<0.01), except for delta activity (p=0.051), indicating lower states of arousal with the TTM treatment.

Conclusion: It is suggested that TTM provides acute neural effects that increase relaxation and decrease anxiety and pain intensity in patients with SCS.

Trial registration: NCT01201733.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Back Pain / complications
  • Back Pain / psychology
  • Back Pain / therapy*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Intercostal Muscles
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / complications
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / psychology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Relaxation
  • Scapula
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Syndrome
  • Thailand
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult

Associated data