Adverse Events in Massage Therapy: Collected Case Reports

In the May/June 2020 issue of Massage & Bodywork, Ruth Werner writes about endangerment sites and the risk of adverse events in massage therapy.

Here is a continued resource list of additional case reports detailing adverse effects in massage therapy.

  1. Abilash, Kak et al. “Fracture-Dislocation at C6–C7 Level with Quadriplegia After Traditional Massage in a Patient with Ankylosing Spondylitis: A Case Report.” Malaysian Orthopaedic Journal 11, no. 2 (June 2017): 75–7. 
  2. Aksoy, Ibrahim A. et al. “Spinal Accessory Neuropathy Associated with Deep Tissue Massage: A Case Report.” Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 90, no. 11 (November 2009): 1969–72. 
  3. Behera, Chittaranjan et al. “Leg Massage by Mother Resulting in Fatal Pulmonary Thromboembolism.” Medico-Legal Journal 86, no. 3 (April 2017): 146–50. 
  4. Chang, Chih-Ya et al. “Massage-Induced Brachial Plexus Injury.” Physical Therapy 95, no. 1 (January 2015): 109–16. 
  5. Chen, Hsin-Ling, Chin-Chu Wu, and Aming C.-M. Lin. “Small Bowel Intramural Hematoma Secondary to Abdominal Massage.” American Journal of Emergency Medicine 31, no. 4 (April 2013): 758.e3–758.e4. 
  6. Cheong, Hyun S. et al. “Spinal Cord Injury Incurred by Neck Massage.” Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine 36, no. 5 (October 2012): 708–12. 
  7. Cho, Ju Y. et al. “Isolated Injury to the Tibial Division of Sciatic Nerve After Self-Massage of the Gluteal Muscle with Massage Ball.” Medicine 98, no. 19 (May 2019): 1–4. 
  8. Dutta, Guatam et al. “‘Crick’ in Neck Followed by Massage Led to Stroke: Uncommon Case of Vertebral Artery Dissection.” World Neurosurgery 115 (July 2018):41–3. 
  9. Grant, Arthur C. and Norman Wang. “Carotid Dissection Associated with a Handheld Electric Massager.” Southern Medical Journal 97, no. 12 (December 2004): 1262–63. 
  10. Grant, Keith E. “Massage Safety: Injuries Reported in Medline Relating to the Practice of Therapeutic Massage—1965–2003.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 7, no. 4 (October 2003): 207–12. 
  11. Guo, Zhiping et al. “Isolated Unilateral Vertebral Pedicle Fracture Caused by a Back Massage in an Elderly Patient: A Case Report and Literature Review.” European Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology 23, suppl. 2 (June 2012): 149–53. 
  12. Hsu, Po-Cheng et al. “Acute Radial Neuropathy at the Spiral Groove Following Massage: A Case Presentation.” PM&R 9, no. 10 (October 2017): 1042–46. 
  13. Jabr, Fadi I. “Massive Pulmonary Emboli After Legs Massage.” American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 86, no. 8 (August 2007): 691. 
  14. Jeon, Chang-Hoon et al. “Case Report: Electrical Automated Massage Chair Use Can Induce Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fracture.” Osteoporosis International 30, no. 7 (April 2019): 1533–36. 
  15. Kaur, Jaslovleen et al. “Frequent Neck Massage Leading to Bilateral Anterior Cerebral Artery Infarction.” BMJ Case Reports 2017. 
  16. Lee, Tzu-Han, Jan-Wei Chiu, and Rai-Chi Chan. “Cervical Cord Injury After Massage.” American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 90, no. 10 (October 2011): 856–59. 
  17. Lim, Danny C. G. et al. “Massaging the Outcome: An Unusual Presentation of Pulmonary Embolism.” BMJ Case Reports 2009. 
  18. Liu, J. S., T. C. Tsai, and Y. Y. Chang. “Extracranial Internal Carotid Artery Dissection Secondary to Neck Massage: Visualization of Mural Hematoma by MRI.”  Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences 9, no. 5 (May 1993): 322–27. 
  19. Mikhail, A. et al. “Renal Artery Embolization After Back Massage in a Patient with Aortic Occlusion.” Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation 12, no. 4 (April 1997): 797–98. 
  20. Mufarrij, Afif J. and Eveline Hitti. “Acute Cystic Rupture and Hemorrhagic Shock After a Vigorous Massage Chair Session in a Patient with Polycystic Kidney Disease.” American Journal of the Medical Sciences 342, no. 1 (July 2011): 76–8. 
  21. Posadzki, Paul and Edzard Ernst. “The Safety of Massage Therapy: An Update of a Systematic Review.” Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies 18, no. 1 (March 2013): 27–32. 
  22. Rahman, Muhammad. N., G. L. McAll, and Kok-Soon Chai. “Massage-Related Perforation of the Sigmoid Colon in Kelantan.” Medical Journal of Malaysia 42, no. 1 (March 1987): 56–7. 
  23.  Ryu, Je I. et al. “Cervical Epidural Hematoma that Induced Sudden Paraparesis After Cervical Spine Massage: Case Report and Literature Review.” World Neurosurgery 112 (April 2018): 217–20. 
  24. Tak, Sandeep, Shubhanjali Tak, and Alok Gupta. “Peripheral Embolisation After an Abdominal Massage.” BMJ Case Reports 2014. 
  25. Trotter, James F. “Hepatic Hematoma After Deep Tissue Massage.” New England Journal of Medicine 341, no. 26 (December 1999): 2019–20. 
  26. Vanichkulbodee, Alissara, Suwara Issaragrisil, and Pholaphat C. Inboriboon. “Massage-Induced Spinal Epidural Hematoma Presenting with Delayed Paraplegia.” American Journal of Emergency Medicine 37, no. 4 (April 2019): 797.e1–797.e4. 
  27. Wu, Ya-Ying, Wei-Chih Hsu, and Han-Cheng Wang. “Posterior Interosseous Nerve Palsy as a Complication of Friction Massage in Tennis Elbow.” American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 89, no. 8 (August 2010): 668–71. 
  28. Yang, Si-Dong, Qiam Chen, and Wen-Yuan Ding. “Cauda Equina Syndrome Due to Vigorous Back Massage with Spinal Manipulation in a Patient with Pre-Existing Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Case Report and Literature Review.” American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 97, no. 4 (April 2018): e23–e26. 
  29. Yin, Pin et al. “Adverse Events of Massage Therapy in Pain-Related Conditions: A Systematic Review.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014. 


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