Objectives: To (1) assess the feasibility and acceptability of Swedish massage among Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care users with knee osteoarthritis (OA) and (2) collect preliminary data on efficacy of Swedish massage in this patient group.
Design: Experimental pilot study.
Setting: Duke Integrative Medicine clinic and VA Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
Patients: Twenty-five veterans with symptomatic knee OA.
Interventions: Eight weekly 1-hour sessions of full-body Swedish massage.
Outcome measures: Primary: Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) and global pain (Visual Analog Scale [VAS]). Secondary: National Institutes of Health Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System-Pain Interference Questionnaire 6b (PROMIS-PI 6b), 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12 v1) and the EuroQol health status index (EQ-5D-5L), knee range of motion (ROM), and time to walk 50 feet.
Results: Study feasibility was established by a 92% retention rate with 99% of massage visits and 100% of research visits completed. Results showed significant improvements in self-reported OA-related pain, stiffness and function (30% improvement in Global WOMAC scores; p=0.001) and knee pain over the past 7 days (36% improvement in VAS score; p<0.001). PROMIS-PI, EQ-5D-5L, and physical composite score of the SF-12 also significantly improved (p<0.01 for all), while the mental composite score of the SF-12 and knee ROM showed trends toward significant improvement. Time to walk 50 feet did not significantly improve.
Conclusions: Results of this pilot study support the feasibility and acceptability of Swedish massage among VA health care users as well as preliminary data suggesting its efficacy for reducing pain due to knee OA. If results are confirmed in a larger randomized trial, massage could be an important component of regular care for these patients.