Research suggests Massage Therapy can be an effective treatment for low back pain. According to a 2009 study, low back pain is the second most common cause of disability in US adults. The condition results in hundreds of millions of lost workdays as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in decreased wages and productivity.
As over 80 percent of the population will experience it during their lifetime, low back pain can become a serious hindrance to daily life. It may be the result of different diseases or simply a muscle, ligament, or disc strain or injury. Either way, it’s important that you know your treatment options if this happens to you. Let’s take a look at the studies that support this treatment as a way to reduce pain and discomfort and how you can get started.
- Massage treatments help to reduce pain
In one six-month study, 24 adults (12 men and 12 women) with low back pain were randomly assigned to one of two groups: massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation. In the massage therapy group, each massage therapy session was 30 minutes long for twice a week for five weeks
To track progress, each participant completed a questionnaire on the first and last day of the 5-week study. They also provided a urine sample and were assessed for their range of motion.
At the end of the study, the massage therapy group and the relaxation group were compared. The massage group reported less pain, depression, and anxiety. They also had improved sleep. Their range of motion (trunk and pain flexion performance) was better, and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.
The study concluded that massage treatments can be used to reduce pain, stress hormones, and symptoms related to chronic lower back pain.
2. Massage therapy is recommended for the treatment of low back pain
One 2018 study highlights the significance of massage therapy in improving the function of the lower back as well as preventing disability. The United States, along with Denmark and the United Kingdom, recommends using exercise and non-pharmacological therapies to help remedy lower back pain.
These non-pharmacological therapies include ta chi, yoga, massage, and spinal manipulations. You can view the U.S. government published statistics about massage therapy via the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) fact sheet.
Here are the highlights…
- 62 percent of clients stated they received a massage for health or medical reasons in 2019
- 88 percent of clients considered the massage to be effective in reducing pain
- 70 percent of clients agreed that massage should be considered a form of healthcare
- 38 percent of clients received a massage in a massage therapist’s office
3. Massage treatment is promising for patients with multiple diagnoses
A 2016 study focused on a 63-year-old man with four different diagnoses: osteoarthritis, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease. The ultimate goal was to reduce the amount of pain medication the patient was taking. Thus, to manage pain, the patient received four massages over a 20-day period.
The patient would self-report pain and daily interference using the Oswestry Low Back Pain Scale. The patient reported improvement in 9 out of 10 measurements. The one failure was the patient’s ability to lift heavy objects (this remained unchanged). However, the patient had an improved ability to walk as well as varying degrees of pain. He also decreased his pain medication and was able to ride his bike for the first time in years.
The study concluded that massage therapy was a promising treatment for chronic lower back pain in patients with multiple diagnoses. Even if the patient was unsure of which ailment may be causing the back pain, the massage therapy provided relief. It was also a low-cost alternative to invasive therapies and allowed the patient to reduce his medication.
How can I get started with massage therapy?
If you’re struggling with low back pain, you have options. First, see a doctor to diagnose and understand the root cause of your low back pain. They may recommend a variety of treatments that can help resolve your low back pain such as bed rest, application of heat or ice, or massage therapy. If massage therapy is one of your recommended treatment options, then a professional massage therapist can help you relieve your chronic lower back pain, especially if it’s been a long-term issue or a severe onset.
The goal of massage therapy is to help you feel better and stay active. Together, you and your massage therapist can work on these goals together. We’re here to help you live a healthier and more active life. Reach out to us to get started today.
The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339077/
Lower Back Pain is Reduced and Range of Motion Increase After Massage Therapy – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11264915/
AMTA Fact Sheet – https://www.amtamassage.org/globalassets/documents/src/2019-pdf.pdf
Case Study: The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low-Back Pain – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5017818/