Massage works – new research on low back pain

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Therapist's hands massaging patient's low backNew research from America shows that massage can help chronic low back pain more than the usual treatments – and yoga, acupuncture and exercise are all good too!

The study, A Comparison of the Effects of 2 Types of Massage and Usual Care on Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial, involved 400 patients who had had low back pain for at least three months. Their pain was ‘nonspecific’, meaning with no identified cause. They were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: structural massage, relaxation massage, or usual care. Usual care was what they would have received anyway, most often medications. The hour-long massage treatments were given weekly for 10 weeks.

The results were interesting.

At 10 weeks, more than one in three patients who received either type of massage—but only one in 25 patients who got usual care—said their back pain was much better or gone. Also at 10 weeks, a questionnaire showed nearly twice as many massage patients (around two-thirds) as usual-care patients (more than one third) were functioning significantly better than at the trial’s outset. Patients in the massage groups spent fewer days in bed, were more active, and used less anti-inflammatory medication than did those with usual  care.

But that’s not all. According to the trial leader, Dr Daniel Cherkin: “We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise, and yoga. And massage is at least as safe as other treatment options. So people who have persistent back pain may want to consider massage as an option.”

So, if you’re not too happy about taking painkillers all the time, then massage, acupuncture, exercise or yoga would seem like a good plan!

Read a report of the trial here.

At our Exmouth eco-clinic, we offer a multi-disciplinary team approach involving acupuncture, massage therapies, McTimoney chiropractic, myofascial release, nutrition, reflexology, circuit training, corrective exercise, Pilates, Tai Chi, TRX, yoga and more.

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