Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Massage beats medication for low back pain

A study published in the July 5th issue of Annals of Internal Medicine reported that massage may be better than medication or exercise for relieving low back.  Participants were 401 patients, mostly middle-aged, female and white, all of whom had low back pain.   These women were assigned to one of three groups: structural massage, relaxation massage or usual medical care.  Those in the massage groups were given hour-long massage treatments weekly for 10 weeks.   Those who received either structural massage or relaxation massage were better able to be active and work for up to a year than those who received usual medical care, which included painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or physical therapy.   At 10 weeks more than one-third of those who received either type of massage said their back pain was much better or gone, compared to only 1 in 25 patients who received the usual medical care.  Six months out, both massage groups still had improved function.  Most Americans will experience low back pain at some time during their lives.   Massage is a relatively safe approach with proven benefit.

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