(Baptist Health) – You might think of massage as a luxury. But growing evidence suggests that it’s much more than an extravagance. In fact, massage therapy—the general term for the many different types of massage—may play a role in helping to ease some types of pain, improve mental health and speed recovery from surgery.

Here are some key ways massage therapy may boost health:

  • Studies suggest that massage therapy may help relieve various types of pain, including in the back, neck, shoulders and knees. It may also help with migraine and tension headaches.
  • According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, massage therapy can be part of supportive care for people with cancer who want to try it. The therapy may help cancer patients cope with things like anxiety, pain, stress, depression and fatigue.
  • Massage therapy, if continued for at least five weeks, may help relieve pain, anxiety and depression in people with fibromyalgia.
  • According to the American Massage Therapy Association, evidence strongly suggests that massage can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. It may also improve mood in people with seasonal affective disorder. And it may help them sleep better and have more energy.
  • Millions of people in the U.S. have surgery every year. Massage therapy may help ease some of surgery’s possible side effects, such as pain, inflammation, scar tissue, stress and anxiety.

Is massage right for you?

Massage should be considered a complementary therapy to more traditional medicine. Don’t use the therapy to put off getting care from your healthcare provider if you have a medical concern.

Talk to your provider if you have questions or concerns about massage therapy. The two of you can decide if you might benefit from massage. Your provider might also be able to help you select a qualified therapist.

Before you choose an alternative medicine to treat a condition, test your knowledge about what alternative medicine is and what it can and can’t do.