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Cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death in the developed world, with surgical intervention often providing the single greatest impact on patients' quality of life and well-being. Recovery from cardiac surgery is sometimes stymied by psychological distress and pain, but evidence indicates relief could come from an unexpected source: massage therapy.

Find out how working with a massage therapist can have a positive impact on postoperative recovery times, improved psychological health and a reduction in pain after cardiac surgery.

How Does Massage Therapy Affect Cardiac Surgery Outcomes?

Patients whose cardiovascular conditions do not respond to medical treatment are often left with surgery as one of the few remaining options. While cardiac surgery can extend and improve quality of life, it also comes with a host of concerns; not least of which is a patient's state of mind and emotional well-being. 

Clinical depression and anxiety rates among cardiac surgery patients are quite high, which can go hand-in-hand with fatigue, mood changes, disordered sleeping and agitation. These conditions increase activity of the sympathetic nervous system, in turn increasing ventricular pressure and heart rate. For this reason, attempts to manage post-surgical pain and support healthy recovery often means working to mitigate the psychological effects of what can be a traumatic procedure. 

Enter massage therapy, a treatment with so much potential to support healing while reducing pain and anxiety that it's now part of the Mayo Clinic's enhanced recovery program for post-operative cardiac patients.

Massage therapy is non-invasive, largely free of risk and does not rely upon additional pharmaceutical intervention to reduce stress and pain. As a supplementary post-surgical intervention, it can help patients to recover more quickly without introducing the risk of medication interaction or adverse reactions.


No two patients are exactly alike, so the road to recovery will look a bit different for everyone. While the average recovery time from cardiac surgery is up to two months, there are a number of variables that can have an impact on recovery time. Though it is understandable patients want to resume their normal daily lives as soon as possible after cardiac surgery, the recovery process is of vital importance and should not be rushed. Massage therapy can play a crucial role in helping you manage muscle soreness, pain, anxiety and even depression, which means it has the potential to support your own natural healing functions.

If you're recovering from cardiac surgery or are preparing for an upcoming procedure, massage therapy can be a valuable tool in your arsenal for pain and stress relief. Working closely with a massage therapist under the supervision of your doctor can help you get back to your daily routine sooner while lowering the risk of certain complications. When massage therapy is used in conjunction with other proven post-operative therapies, patients recovering from cardiac surgery can show very real improvement while reporting less pain, lowered stress and better overall outcomes.

Massage Therapy, Pain Management


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