Background: 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.
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the evidence concerning the effect of massage on blood pressure in patients with hypertension or prehypertension.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusion: 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.