Back pain is a problem that affects 80% of Americans at some point in their lives. This is partly because there are so many ways to trigger it. Though most lower back pain is a result of strain or injury (caused by anything from lifting furniture to a jolting car accident to playing sports), a number of other conditions may cause back pain as well: arthritis, osteoporosis, spinal problems, or herniated discs.
The problem of pain
Doctors are often unable to pinpoint a specific cause for lower back pain, which can create a sense of stress and depression in the patient, which-you guessed it-triggers even more lower back pain. This cycle can be debilitating when lower back pain interferes in daily life and takes away a person's ability to pick up her child or push his loaded shopping cart. Many people become frustrated by their physician's inability to point to a direct cause for their pain, and they stop seeking care altogether.
Massage shows promise
But a new study has revealed that massage may be an effective therapy for coping with lower back pain. Researchers enrolled 400 patients with unidentified lower back pain in the study and split them into three treatment groups: clinical massage, relaxation massage, and conventional medical care. Clinical massage uses specific manipulation of the muscles in order to achieve therapeutic goals, and relaxation massage uses a gentler technique to reduce pain and promote overall well-being.
After 10 weeks, the two groups that had been treated with massage were in significantly less pain than the group receiving conventional medical care. They were able to do more physical activity and required less anti-inflammatory drugs to control the pain. Over the next year, the treatment group receiving standard medical care also improved, but at a far slower rate than the groups treated with massage. Researchers concluded that massage is a promising treatment for chronic lower back pain, especially when used in conjunction with other forms of care.
Finding the right massage therapist and talking to him or her about your health history before undergoing treatment is an important first step. A massage therapist who is sensitive to your condition and is aware of other treatment methods you are using is the key to a positive experience. You can watch videos of massage treatments here to get a sense of what to expect from your first session.