Treating Low Back Pain with Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

Back pain can begin from a simple gesture like bending over to pick up a pencil, or from a complex, rotating movement like a golf swing. However it happens, the result is the same-you?re in agony. The pain has not resolved in weeks. What now? What are your options? Back pain can be debilitating in that it impairs one?s function and interrupts the flow of life. Many patients find themselves in this unfortunate predicament, and seek comfort and relief through the use of massage therapy.

When a patient experiences back pain, muscle spasms and tightness can make it impossible to perform daily tasks. Activities like sitting, standing, rising from a chair, or even walking for five minutes can become problematic. In recent years, both patients and health care providers are becoming more aware of the benefits of massage to aid in musculoskeletal pain relief. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, in July of 2014 more than 54 million American adults (17%) had discussed massage therapy with their doctors or healthcare providers and of those 17%, 71% of their doctors or healthcare providers referred them to a therapist/recommended massage. Also 54% of adult Americans who had a massage between July 2013 and July 2014 received it for medical or health reasons such as pain management, soreness/stiffness/spasms, injury rehabilitation or overall wellness.

So what is the best type of massage for low back pain?
There are many techniques that can help bring comfort and relief to those suffering from low back pain: ?Swedish massage, deep tissue, neuromuscular therapy, or orthopedic massage, just to name a few. Finding the right technique may be based on your past experience with massage and the findings from your assessment and medical history interview. Your therapist may look at your body?s alignment to see if any structural patterns are contributing to your discomfort.? For those who prefer not to have deep therapy, Myofascial Release is a gentle, effective method to create changes in muscle tissue and relieve pain with lasting effects. Another technique that some patients may prefer is Trigger Point Therapy. A trigger point is an area of hyperirritability in muscle tissue that can refer pain locally or at a distant location in another muscle. Trigger Point Therapy finds and addresses the area that?s really the source of the discomfort.

One thing to remember is that while therapeutic massage is a very valuable tool for patients, in some cases it may work better when combined with stretching and exercise; a physical therapist can help you find the right balance.

It?s easy to feel depressed when you?re dealing with pain day after day. The good news is that while you?re being treated for pain with massage therapy, endorphins are being released and your body feels better, and your spirit feels renewed and stress-free!

L. Claudette Moore is a licensed massage therapist at HSS Spine & Sport in Jupiter, Florida. She has extensive experience as a medical massage therapist, working primarily in a physical therapy setting. She specializes in myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy, scar tissue management, and is a certified perinatal massage therapist.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


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  1. Please provide information where I can find a massage therapist for my lower back pain which started about a week ago when I turned and bent down to lift my bag while sitting in a revolving chair.
    I was operated at HSS for a hip replacement in 2013 by Dr. Salvati.

    1. Hi Eva, thank you for reaching out. Here is a response from the HSS Rehabilitation Team: ?There are three HSS Rehabilitation locations that offer massage therapy services, two of which are in New York and one in Florida. Please feel free to contact the location that?s most convenient for you and they will be glad to assist you in making an appointment: Tisch Sports Medicine Performance Center at Hospital for Special Surgery, 646.797.8005; Integrative Care Center on Madison Avenue between 59th & 60th street, 212.224.7900; and HSS Spine & Sport in Jupiter, Florida, 561.253.8737.?