Navigation Links
Massage eases low back pain in randomized controlled trial

SEATTLEMassage therapy helps ease chronic low back pain and improve function, according to a randomized controlled trial that the Annals of Internal Medicine will publish in its July 5 issue. 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," said trial leader Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute. Better function means they are more able to work, take care of themselves, and be active.

"This is important because chronic back pain is among the most common reasons people see doctors and alternative practitioners, including massage therapists," Dr. Cherkin added. "It's also a common cause of disability, absenteeism, and 'presenteeism,' when people are at work but can't perform well."

The trial enrolled 400 Group Health Cooperative patients who had had low back pain for at least three months. Their pain was "nonspecific," meaning with no identified cause. They were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: structural massage, relaxation massage, or usual care. Usual care was what they would have received anyway, most 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 massagebut only one in 25 patients who got usual caresaid their back pain was much better or gone. Also at 10 weeks, a questionnaire showed nearly twice as many massage patients (around two thirds) as usual-care patients (more than one third) were functioning significantly better than at the trial's outset. Patients in the massage groups spent fewer days in bed, were more active, and used less anti-inflammatory medication than did those with usual care.

"As expected with most treatments, the benefits of massage declined over time," Dr. Cherkin said. "But at six months after the trial started, both types of massage were still associated with improved function." After one year, the benefits of massage were no longer significant.

The bottom line: "We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise, and yoga," Dr. Cherkin said. "And massage is at least as safe as other treatment options. So people who have persistent back pain may want to consider massage as an option."

Prior studies of massage for back pain had tested only structural forms of massage, not relaxation massage. But relaxation (also called Swedish) massage is the most widely available and is taught in massage schools. It aims to promote a feeling of relaxation throughout the body. By contrast, structural massage involves identifying and focusing on specific pain-related "soft tissues" (like muscles and ligaments). It requires extra training and may be more expensivebut more likely to be covered by health insurance plansthan relaxation massage.

"The massage therapists assumed structural massage would prove more effective than relaxation massage," said Dr. Cherkin's colleague Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute. "They were surprised when patients in the relaxation group got so much relief from their back pain."

Next steps include figuring out whether the structural and relaxation massages were equally effective for the sameor for differentreasons:

  • Structural or relaxation massage, or both, might have specific effects, such as stimulating tissue or calming the central nervous system.

  • Either or both might work through "nonspecific effects" that may promote a person's ability to play an active role in their own healing. Possible nonspecific effects include: being touched; spending time in a relaxing environment; receiving care from a therapist who seems caring; getting advice on caring for yourself, such as exercises to do on your own; or becoming more aware of your own body, so you're better able to avoid triggers for your back pain.

  • Some combination of specific and nonspecific effects might be at play.


Contact: Rebecca Hughes
Group Health Research Institute

Related medicine news :

1. Adults demonstrate modified immune response after receiving massage, Cedars-Sinai researchers show
2. Ayurvedic Cooking, Massages and Yoga -- Relaxing for Children Charity -- Retreats at an Ashram in India
3. Massage Therapy School Trains for In-Demand Careers in Massage Therapy
4. Atlanta School of Massage Celebrates 30th Anniversary with a New Green Design and New Name for its Teaching Clinic: SensAbility
5. Launches Its Brand New Customer-Focused Website
6. Massage Envy Provides Effective Way to Manage Arthritis Pain
7. Massage Envy Announces Franchisee of the Year
8. Massage Envy Offers Relief for Fibromyalgia Sufferers
9. Forget the Flowers for Mother's Day This Year -- Get Her a Massage Instead
10. Massage Envy Reduces Stress With Spring Massage
11. Human Touch Returns to High Point Market with the First iPhone/iPod Touch Controlled Massage Chair
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Massage eases low back pain in randomized controlled trial
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... , ... On November 10, 2015, Bohrer Brady, LLC filed a class and ... a home health care worker who provided companionship services for the elderly, ill or ... by Humana, Inc., Humana at Home, Inc., and SeniorBridge Family Companies (CT), Inc. since ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... According to an article published ... and more widely heralded as a breakthrough for performing hernia repairs. The article explains ... laparoscopic surgery is that it can greatly reduce the pain that a patient might ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dental professionals who would like to become ... invited to attend Dr. Mark Iacobelli’s Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM) CE course. Courses will ... , As the co-founders of Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM), Dr. Iacobelli and Dr. D’Orazio ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... athletic programs, launches new Wimbledon Athletics Facebook page to educate the ... for unsuspected cardiac abnormalities. About 2,000 people under the age of 25 die ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... On November 23rd 2015 Cozy ... personal heating products business. Cozy Products explains what this means for business moving ... well with the Cozy Products business model: to sell personal heaters that reduce energy ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Henry Schein, Inc., the world,s largest provider of health ... animal health practitioners, will unveil at the Greater New ... Pavilion , which brings together for the first time ... help any practice or laboratory enter the digital age. ... of experts appearing at the Pavilion. --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  Trovagene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV ), ... Chief Executive Officer Antonius Schuh, Ph.D., is scheduled to ... Annual Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference. th ... Palace Hotel in New York ... Mr. Schuh will be available for one-on-one meetings during ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP ... , President and CEO, will discuss corporate updates at the ... New York on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 ... on Investor Relations, and then the link to the event. ... start time to visit the site and download any streaming ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: