Massage Therapy – Win!


Most people love a great massage, I know I sure do. There is great healing in the power of touch. Now there is one more study to prove it. Just published in the the Annals of Internal Medicine, (Ann Intern Med. 2011;155:1-9. Abstract), is a great study looking at how effective massage therapy is in treating chronic lower back pain.

The study compared structural massage vs relaxation massage vs medication and drug therapy. At the end of the 10 week study, the massage therapy group had better outcomes compared to the medication group.

The exciting part of the study was the comparison of the two types of massage. Both structural and relaxation massage groups were used in the study. The relaxation massage technique outperformed the structural group. Studies like this really support the manual medicine approaches to chronic low back pain. The power of corrective touch needs to be emphasized, especially to the low back pain sufferers in St George, Utah, many of whom reach for a pill instead of what really works.

The two forms of manual medicine that are the safest and most cost effective are Chiropractic and Massage Therapy. Thankfully, we work so well together. In my St George low back pain clinic, I frequently refer out for complimentary massage therapy. I try to steer my patients away from an attitude of “either or.” It is important for patients to look at all options and not think of seeing ‘either a chiropractor or a massage therapist.’ Rather, they should be seeing both, simultaneously. I know that when my patients come in for chiropractic treatments for low back pain after they had seen a massage therapist, the treatments are much more effective.

I have been asked by medical doctors how chiropractic is so effective in treating lower back pain. I explain how chiropractic manipulation stimulates the nervous system, in particular, the periaqueductal gray matter of the brain. That structure is involved in pain modulation using descending pathways. The explanation is a bit complex and difficult to illustrate in a blog post. But I am happy to sit down and explain the neurology, if anyone wants to stop by my office.

After reading this research article, I suspect that the massage therapy is also stimulating this region of the brain and reducing pain using those same pathways. Manual medicine, be it chiropractic or massage is a win.

I’m glad to be on the winning team.

Dr. Andrew White
Low Back Pain Chiropractor in St George UT.

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