Massage Causes Short-Term Back Pain Relief

Massage Causes Short-Term Back Pain Relief
Back pain affects 85 percent of people sometime in their lives and is particularly common in weight trained athletes. Many people use massage to decrease pain, but does it do any good? Daniel Cherkin from the University of Washington and colleagues, in a 12-month study, compared the effects of traditional back care with structural massage and relaxation massage. Back pain was lower in both massage groups at 10 weeks, but there were no differences in symptoms between groups during any other time in the study. Back pain is extremely difficult to study because the symptoms usually go away by themselves with time. Assessing the effects of any treatment is difficult because of the placebo effect— the treatment works by the power of suggestion. It is extremely difficult to control for the psychological effects of massage or other treatments. It appears that massage provides temporary relief of back pain and may be useful for reducing symptoms. (Annals of Internal Medicine 155)

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