Intradialytic Massage for Leg Cramps Among Hemodialysis Patients: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
Background: Patients on hemodialysis often experience muscle cramps that result in discomfort, shortened treatment times, and inadequate dialysis dose. Cramps have been associated with adversely affecting sleep and health-related quality of life, depression and anxiety. There is limited evidence available about massage in dialysis; however, massage in cancer patients has demonstrated decreases in pain, inflammation, and feelings of anxiety. These correlations indicate massage may be an effective treatment modality for hemodialysis-related lower extremity cramping.
Purpose: To determine the effectiveness of intradialytic massage on the frequency of cramping among hemodialysis patients prone to lower extremity cramping.
Participants: 26 maintenance hemodialysis patients with frequent lower extremity cramps.
Setting: three outpatient hemodialysis centers in Northeast Ohio.
Research Design: randomized controlled trial.
Intervention: The intervention group received a 20-minute massage of the lower extremities during each treatment (three times per week) for two weeks. The control group received usual care by dialysis center staff.
Main Outcome Measure: change in frequency of lower leg cramping.
Results: Patient reported cramping at home decreased by 1.3 episodes per week in the intervention group compared to 0.2 episodes per week in the control group (p=.005). Patient reported cramping during dialysis decreased by 0.8 episodes
in the intervention group compared to 0.4 episodes in the control group (p=0.44).
Conclusion: Intradialytic massage appears to be an effective way to address muscle cramping. Larger studies with longer duration should be conducted to further examine this approach.