Adding massage to back pain care helps with faster recovery: study

Massage Therapy Canada staff
March 31, 2015
By Massage Therapy Canada staff
It can take weeks or months to completely recover from a flare-up of low back pain. Adding massage to conventional back care can reduce pain and speed the return to normal activities, explains the March 2015 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch.
“Based on research to date, massage therapy generally seems to be helpful, when compared with doing nothing, and it tends to be very safe,” said Peter Wayne, research director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. “It's worth a try.”

On the downside, insurance coverage for massage therapy varies, and many people end up paying the full cost. Choosing a massage therapist also presents some challenges.

For one thing, practitioners vary considerably in their level of training and experience, the Harvard Health publication said. There are also several varieties of massage, sometimes known as “touch therapy,” to choose from. Swedish massage, with its long, gliding strokes and kneading of the major muscle groups, is the most common type of massage offered, but there are many others.

The best studies to date have found that massage brought more relief than usual care steps such as physical therapy or self-help at home (such as rest, ice, heat and over-the-counter pain relievers) as well as acupuncture.

The full-length article, “Sore back? Try a massage,” can be found at Harvard Health Publications website.

The Harvard Men's Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School.

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