TUCSON, ARIZ., AND MIDDLETOWN, CONN. (August 3, 2018)–The Massage Therapy Foundation announced today that it has awarded a $5,000 Community Service Grant to the U.S. Pain Foundation, the leading chronic pain advocacy organization in the country. The grant will fund free massage therapy and self-massage training to people living with pain, in an effort to understand whether massage therapy can help reduce the use of pain medications. U.S. Pain Foundation’s proposal was one of four recipients selected by the Massage Therapy Foundation from a total of 46 applications nationwide.

The project proposal was developed by Gwenn Herman, LCSW, DCSW, Clinical Director of Pain Connection, a U.S. Pain program that offers in-person and telephone support groups, support group leader trainings, and resources and education for people with pain. Herman, a longtime social worker, lives with pain herself.

 “Massage therapy can be wonderful for pain, but it is often cost-prohibitive.”

“We are incredibly grateful to the Massage Therapy Foundation for standing behind this exciting project,” says Herman. “Right now, state and federal governments are enacting policies to restrict access to pain medications without doing anything to improve the availability of affordable, effective alternatives. Massage therapy can be wonderful for pain, but it is often cost-prohibitive. We’re hoping to demonstrate that massage could reduce opioid use, and to make the case that it should be better covered by insurance. Other anticipated outcomes include reduced pain, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep, all of which we hope will help reduce the need for costly medical care, like emergency room visits.”

The grant will fund free massage therapy for uninsured and underinsured residents of Tucson, Arizona, who live with chronic pain. Herman will recruit, interview and refer participants to Tucson Family Wellness, LLC, a local massage therapy business owned by Gary Olsen. Olsen, who is a founding member of the Tucson Chapter of the National Coalition of Chronic Pain Providers and Professionals–also a program of U.S. Pain Foundation–is experienced with working with this specialized patient population.

Participants will receive four free massage therapy sessions, each coupled with a self-massage training session. The four sessions will be spaced two weeks apart to allow the client to fully experience massage and then practice the techniques at home. The client would then be offered reduced price options for ongoing massage therapy and email support for their self-care.

“A very unique aspect of this project is the inclusion of a self-massage educational component, which will help participants continue the benefit of massage at home as a long-term treatment,” says Herman.

The criteria for participation in this program will be that the person has lived with chronic pain for over one year and has had problems abusing opioids or uses opioids as a part of their treatment program. Participants will be over the age of 21 years and resident in Pima County, Tucson, Arizona. A physician’s referral will be required.

This is pilot program is intended to be a model for similar programs nationwide. It is hoped that additional funding may expand the study to include longer-term treatment with massage therapy and a range alternative treatment modalities.

About U.S. Pain Foundation

U.S. Pain Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with chronic conditions that cause pain. Its mission is to empower, support, inform, and advocate for people with pain as well as their caregivers and clinicians. For more information, visit www.uspainfoundation.org.

About Massage Therapy Foundation

Massage Therapy Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity, with a mission to advance the knowledge and practice of massage by supporting scientific research, education, and community service. For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.massagetherapyfoundation.org.