When you hear the words massage therapy, thoughts of a day pampered at the spa probably come to mind. Most people utilize this treatment as a way to relieve stress and minor aches and pains that develop over a long work week. But did you know massage therapy is also an effective treatment for chronic back pain?
A new study has revealed that massage therapy can actually be just as effective as traditional treatments for back pain, and in some patients even more effective. If you suffer from chronic back pain
and are looking for a safe and effective alternative to surgery or pain medication, consider the healing benefits of massage therapy.
A Safe and Effective Approach to Pain Relief
A recent study conducted at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle followed 401 back pain patients to determine if massage therapy works as well as standard treatment for back pain. All patients in the study had back pain for three months or longer and did not have an identified cause for their symptoms. Each patient was assigned to one of three treatments: standard acetaminophen and physical therapy, full-body relaxation massage, and structural massage that focused on specific areas of pain in the body. Patients received the treatments for an hour once a week and reported their pain relief after 10 weeks, six months, and a year.
The results of the study showed that each group of patients experienced a general decrease in pain and an improved ability to perform daily tasks pain-free. However, patients who received massage therapy reported less pain and a greater improvement in performing daily tasks compared to those who received the standard physical therapy treatment. Furthermore, patients who received massage therapy also reported pain relief sooner than those who received standard treatment alone. Although all treatments were effective in relieving pain, these findings suggest that massage therapy not only provides greater pain relief than standard physical treatment alone, but faster relief as well.
How Massage Therapy Relieves Back Pain
Depending on the source of your pain, there are a number of massage treatments that may be applied, including Swedish, deep tissue, and even targeted techniques safe for pregnant women. Although each method provides unique benefits, the overlaying principle of massage therapy is to relax tense muscles in the back and neck.
Since one of the primary causes of back and neck pain is muscle spasms and strains, utilizing targeted massage therapy techniques allows these overexerted muscles to become relaxed and receive the vital nutrients they need to hasten the healing process and alleviate pain. Additional benefits patients can expect include a reduction of toxins in the body, improved sleep, greater range of motion, and relief from stress and depression.
Combining Massage Therapy and Chiropractic Adjustments
Massage therapy is an effective treatment for back pain on its own; however, pairing it with chiropractic adjustments can improve its effectiveness. Massage therapy may be performed prior to or following chiropractic adjustments, each providing their own benefits. If done before, muscles that support the spine become relaxed, in turn improving the chiropractor’s ability to perform chiropractic adjustments with less resistance. When performed after, massage therapy can extend the benefits of the adjustments by keeping the muscles relaxed and increasing blood flow to the affected areas of the body.
If you suffer from chronic back pain, contact Dr. Browner for a free consultation to see if massage therapy is right for you. Depending on your unique medical condition and the underlying causes of your pain, the treatment may also be combined with chiropractic adjustments to further help alleviate your pain without the need for invasive surgery.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner is the Co-Owner of Active Life Chiropractic in Plantation, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.