Soft Tissue Pain

Related Terms

Soft tissue pain is discomfort around the bones and muscles. This may also involve tendons, ligaments, or other support structures.

It is treated with medicine. Some people turn to natural therapies to help ease pain.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

  • Acupuncture —Includes different forms such as electroacupuncture.A1-A3
  • Massage —Improves pain, range of motion, and function for a short time when compared to no treatment. When compared to exercise or other treatments, massage had no benefit.B1-B2
  • Mindfulness meditation —Managing pain by focusing on the moment.C1-C2
  • Prolotherapy —Injection of an irritant into soft tissue or joint space.D1-D3

May Not Be Effective

Unlikely to Be Effective

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions. Some supplements may have certain concerns.




A1. Lam M, Galvin R, Curry P. Effectiveness of acupuncture for nonspecific chronic low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2013;38(24):2124-2138.

A2. Cox J, Varatharajan S, Côté P, Optima Collaboration. Effectiveness of acupuncture therapies to manage musculoskeletal disorders of the extremities: a systematic review. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2016;46(6):409-429.

A3. Leite PMS, Mendonça ARC, Maciel LYS, et al. Does electroacupuncture treatment reduce pain and change quantitative sensory testing responses in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain? A randomized controlled clinical trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:8586746.


B1. van den Dolder PA, Ferreira PH, Refshauge KM. Effectiveness of soft tissue massage and exercise for the treatment of non-specific shoulder pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48(16):1216-1226.

B2. Bervoets DC, Luijsterburg PA, et al. Massage therapy has short-term benefits for people with common musculoskeletal disorders compared to no treatment: a systematic review. J Physiother. 2015 Jul;61(3):106-116.


C1. Meditation C1. Chiesa A, Serretti A. Mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain: a systematic review of the evidence. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(1):83-93.

C2. la Cour, Petersen M. Effects of mindfulness meditation on chronic pain: a randomized controlled trial. Pain Med. 2015;16(4):641-652.


D1. Yelland MJ, Glasziou PP, Bogduk N, Schluter PJ, McKernon M. Prolotherapy injections, saline injections, and exercises for chronic low-back pain: a randomized trial. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2004;29(1):9-16.

D2. Rabago D, Best TM, Beamsley M, Patterson J. A systematic review of prolotherapy for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Clin J Sport Med. 2005;15(5):376-380.

D3. Yelland MJ, Sweeting KR, Lyftogt JA, Ng SK, Scuffham PA, Evans KA. Prolotherapy injections and eccentric loading exercises for painful Achilles tendinosis: a randomised trial. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45(5):421-428.

Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 6/22/2020