Massage and Low Back Pain

5/2/2018 in Medical Conditions

Low back pain is an extremely common condition world-wide.  In fact, regardless of cause it is the leading reason for job disability.  One in ten persons experience it and for the majority the pain becomes chronic in nature.  Research published in the journal of Pain Medicine has found that massage may provide lasting relief for chronic low back pain.

The study involved 104 people with chronic back pain who were referred by their doctors to licensed massage therapists.  They attended 10 sessions over a 12 week period and the therapists used techniques customized to the individual, rather than all using the same technique.  At the end of the study, more than 50% of participants reported improvement in their back pain.  In fact, their scores on a standard screening test dropped below the threshold for disability.  For many, their improvements lasted.  More than three months following treatment, 75% reported that they still felt better.

While it is suggested that massage directly reduces inflammation in the muscles, more research is needed to figure out exactly how it works to reduce pain. 

Reference:  Real-World Massage Therapy Produces Meaningful Effectiveness Signal for Primary Care Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: Results of a Repeated Measures Cohort Study, Pain Medicine, Volume 18, Issue 7, July 2017, Pages 1394-1405.


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