A July 2001 survey conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association found that the number of adults receiving massages from a massage therapist more than doubled since 1997.
Most healthcare providers are recognizing massage therapy as a legitimate aid for lower back pain and an effective adjunct to lower back treatments. Fifty-four percent of healthcare providers say they will encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy in addition to medical treatment.
A study on massage and back pain conducted at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in 2001 found that: “Massage lessened lower back pain, depression and anxiety, and improved sleep. The massage therapy group also showed improved range of motion and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.” (International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.)
Massage Therapy Considerations for Lower Back Pain
The muscle spasm should relax in response to the pressure applied by the massage therapist. If the muscle does not relax in response to the pressure, there is usually inflammation present. Massage therapy is not the best treatment option for inflamed muscles, and patients should consult their doctor for treatment for the inflammation.
Most muscle spasms require four massage treatments, usually over the course of six weeks, to achieve the best effect. If muscle spasms do not begin to respond to neuromuscular therapy within two massages, neuromuscular massage therapy may not be the best treatment option.
If you have severe lower back pain, it is advisable to be checked by medical personnel before beginning massage treatments.
Combining Massage Therapy with Other Treatments
Massage therapy will produce the best results when combined with medical treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic, or physician care. Many massage therapists will work as part of an interdisciplinary health care team in overall patient evaluation and treatment.
For more information on massage therapy, or to locate a massage therapist in your area, check the American Massage Therapy Association website, http://www.amtamassage.org. You may also want to ask your physician for a referral to a massage therapist in your area.