Massage may be the oldest and simplest form of medical care. Egyptian tomb paintings show people being massaged. Massage has been practiced continually since ancient times in Eastern cultures. It was one of the principal methods of relieving pain for Greek and Roman physicians. Julius Caesar was said to have been given a daily massage to treat neuralgia (nerve pain). In the 5th Century B.C., the father of Western medicine, Hippocrates wrote in the book The Physician Must Be Experienced In Many Things, “but assuredly in rubbing… for rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose, and loosen a joint that is too rigid.”
Massage lost some of its value and prestige with the unsavory image created by “massage parlors.” This image is fading as people gain the understanding that massage can relieve disease as well as aid in relaxation. As more people learn about the benefits of massage and it’s relation to disease, the more acceptable it will become.
Massage is now used in intensive care units, for children, elderly people, babies in incubators, and patients with cancer, AIDS, heart attacks, or strokes. Most American hospices have some kind of bodywork therapy available, and it is frequently offered in health centers, drug treatment clinics, and pain clinics.
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