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The NIH estimates about 80 percent of adults will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, and names it as the single most common cause of job-related disability. For patients living with pain in their lower backs, relief can be elusive. Find out how massage therapy can provide the relief you seek without additional medication.

The Facts About Low Back Pain

Pain in the lower back strikes both men and women, and can be a dull, constant ache or a sharp, debilitating and sudden pain which leaves you all but incapacitated. While most low back pain is acute, meaning it resolves with treatment and does not have a permanent effect on function. About 20 percent of patients who suffer from acute low back pain will develop a chronic pain condition, however, which lasts longer than twelve weeks and persists after treatment for a triggering injury or underlying mechanical disruption. While medical treatment can resolve chronic low back pain for some patients, others will continue to suffer from uncontrolled pain even after surgical intervention.

For these patients, prescription pain medication and some physical therapy are typically the only remaining treatment options. Massage therapy, though, can provide meaningful and lasting relief for these patients where other, more invasive interventions fail.

Pain in the lower back can be attributed to a wide range of causes, including:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Sciatica
  • Radiculopathy
  • Herniated discs
  • Disc degeneration
  • Sprains and strains
  • Spondylolisthesis 
  • Skeletal irregularities (scoliosis, lordosis and other congenital defects)

Risk factors for developing low back pain are age, a sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, weight gain and genetics. Occupational risk factors can also contribute to pain in the lower back, particularly for patients who sit all day or those whose jobs require heavy lifting.

Is Massage Therapy an Effective Treatment for Low Back Pain?

Non-invasive and very low risk for much of the population, massage therapy is an accessible and safe option which can provide lasting and meaningful relief from low back pain. Massage can boost circulation and increase blood flow, which nourishes tissues and speeds recovery for soft tissue injuries. Because massage also decreases tension, it can increase your range of motion while improving flexibility and addressing stiffness. 

During a massage, endorphins are released which aid in overall sense of wellness. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol are reduced, further contributing to the "feel-good" sensation of a massage.

It's important to note that massage is low-risk for most people, but it is contraindicated for those with specific conditions. If you suffer from osteoporosis, certain types of back injury and some health conditions, you should be sure to consult with your physician before beginning massage therapy treatment. For the vast majority of patients, however, massage can provide the back pain relief which is often elusive under traditional medical interventions.

If you suffer from chronic low back pain, a massage therapist may be able to help without adding powerful and potentially dangerous prescription painkillers to the mix. Speak with your doctor to determine whether massage is a safe and promising option for your condition.

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Lower Back Pain, Massage Therapy


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