Massage shown to be effective in the treatment of low back pain – again!

LowBackPainWe know that 4 out of 5 people will suffer low back pain at some point in their lives and given the modern increasingly sedentary lifestyle the incidence of low back pain is increasing.

Research just published in December 2013 to investigate the effects of deep tissue massage compared to effects of deep tissue massage combined with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID) revealed that deep tissue massage has a significant positive effect on reducing pain and improving function in chronic low back pain sufferers.

59 chronic low back pain sufferers received either 10 deep tissue massage treatments or 10 deep tissue massage treatments combined with NSAIDs.

Whilst both groups demonstrated a significant improvement in experienced pain and self reported functionality / disability there was no significant difference between the two groups resulting in the authors to propose that the use of deep tissue massage causes fast therapeutic results and could help to reduce the use of NSAID in the treatment of chronic low back pain.

This follows on from a large randomized controlled trial in 2011 (Annals of Internal Medicine July 5, 2011 vol. 155 no. 1 1-9) which demonstrated that that massage is more effective than usual medical interventions for improving pain and function in patients with chronic low back pain.

Researchers studied 401 patients (aged 20 to 65 years) with chronic low back pain to compare the effectiveness of massage versus usual care. Patients were surveyed about their symptoms and ability to perform daily activities and then randomly assigned to receive massage (relaxing or structural) or usual treatment with no massage.

After 10 weeks, the researchers re-measured the participants’ symptoms and mobility, and then re-measured again at six months and one year. They found that patients in both of the massage groups fared much better than those receiving usual care.

Low back pain affects a significant proportion of the population.  Appropriately trained massage practitioners may have a significant role to play in the treatment of back pain.