Massage Therapy and Chronic Low Back Pain

Researchers at Group Health Research Institute carried out a clinical trial into the effects of relaxation massage and structural massage on patients with non specific chronic low back pain (pain that persisted for more than 3 months). They found that both types of massage helped improve symptoms.

Patients were randomly allocated to one of three groups: Relaxation massage group (received weekly relaxation (Swedish) massage over 10 weeks), Structural massage group (received weekly structural massage over 10 weeks), or Usual care group (carried on with the treatment they had been receiving which usually involved prescribed drugs).

The results after ten weeks found that 1 in every 3 patients in the massage groups reported that their back pain had either gone or was much better in comparison to 1 in every 25 patients in the usual care group.

The benefits from the massages were still detectable 6 months after the trial started although they declined over time and were not detectable after 12 months.

The results found that there was no real difference in benefits derived from relaxation massage and structural massage. The trial leader Dr. Cherkin said “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.” – Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol 155. No. 1 (July 5, 2011).

The research paper (A Comparison of the Effects of 2 Types of Massage and Usual Care on Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial) can be read here http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=747008