Massage therapy helps ease chronic low back pain and improves function, according to a new Annals of Internal Medicine trial. This is the first study to compare structural and relaxation (Swedish) massage. The trial found that both types of massage worked well with few side effects.
“We found that massage helps people with back pain to function even after six months,” says author Daniel Cherkin, Ph.D., from the Group Health Research Institute. “This is important because chronic back pain is among the most common reasons people see doctors and alternative practitioners, including massage therapists.” Better function means people are able to stay active.
The trial enrolled 400 patients who had low back pain for at least three months. Their pain was “nonspecific,” meaning with no identified cause. They were assigned to one of three treatments: Structural massage, relaxation massage, or usual care (often medications). The hour-long massage treatments were given weekly for 10 weeks.
At 10 weeks, more than one in three patients who received either type of massage — but only one in 25 who got usual care — said their back pain was much better or gone. Approximately two-thirds of massage patients reported functioning significantly better compared to one-third of usual care patients. Patients who were able to treat back pain with massage were more active and used less anti-inflammatory medication.
People who have persistent back pain may want to consider massage as an option. Massage has been shown to:
- Improve blood circulation
- Improve range of motion
- Increase endorphin levels
- Ease medication dependence
Acupuncture & Massage College’s Community Clinic offers acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health conditions as well as for overall wellness. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.