Massage offers relief from low back pain

An article in The Oregonian earlier this month (July 5, 2011) reported on a study showing that massage therapy appears to be more effective than pain killers and muscle relaxants in treating low back pain.

For the full article written by Joe Rojas-Burke, click here.  But here are some great excerpts:

Massage relieves low back pain.  Breathe Yoga and Massage, Vancouver, WAIn a new study, researchers in Seattle and Portland found that massage therapy relieved chronic back pain more effectively than the usual care offered by physicians.

The controlled clinical trial compared two types of massage -- general relaxation or structural massage targeting constricted muscles and tissues -- and found no significant difference in their effects. But both relieved pain and increased function better than usual care, which typically consists of self-care advice and prescriptions for pain medicine.

"For people who have persistent back pain, massage is a reasonable treatment option," said co-author Daniel Cherkin, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. 

In the massage study, researchers enlisted more than 400 women and men from the membership of the Group Health Cooperative health system in Seattle. All of them had moderate to severe back pain lasting three months or longer. Researchers excluded people who had herniated disks or compressed spinal nerves causing leg pain. Researchers randomly assigned volunteers to receive usual care or weekly massage sessions for ten weeks.

After 10 weeks, volunteers in both massage groups fared significantly better than the usual care patients in measures of disability, symptom bothersomeness, need for pain medication, sick days, and satisfaction with care. More than 36 percent of the massage patients said their back pain was much better or gone, compared with just 4 percent of usual care patients. 

The benefits of massage are roughly comparable to those found for exercise as a treatment for chronic back pain. "If people exercise they will have less back pain or be less bothered by it, but getting them to exercise is not that easy," Cherkin said. "Maybe the ideal for some people would be massage to get out of the chronic pain cycle and transition into a self-care program like yoga, or tai chi, or exercise."

Click here to read the full article in the Oregonian.  Then give us a call to schedule an appointment and start getting along with your body again.


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