Massage Better for Low-Back Pain
The study randomly followed 401 adults with low back pain treatments who were given either Swedish-style “structural” massage, relaxation massage, or conventional back pain treatment. After three months, the two massage groups had more pain reduction and more mobility than did the conventional treatment group. While 36% and 39% of the patients among the two massage groups documented that their pain was gone or nearly gone, only 4% of the conventional treatment group could make that claim.
The conventional treatments included being given pain-relieving medications, being given muscle relaxants, or given treatments by chiropractors or physical therapists.
The improvement among the two types of massage groups were about the same. Swedish massage is the most used type of massage, and the predominant method taught in massage schools.
Improvements among the massage patients ranged from mild and gradual to immediate. This was noted as faster than the response to most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are sold over the counter and by prescription.
The improvements from the three months of massage lasted at least six months, and in some cases for a year.
The study was performed by researchers from the Group Health Research Institute, the University of Washington, the University of Vermont, and the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon, and was published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo RA. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):1-9.