Back Pain: Can Massage Help?

Back pain is a common condition. It can interfere with many ordinary activities, and people routinely use pain medication, hydrotherapy and heat packs for relief. Massage is another option, but its effectiveness is still being debated in the field of medicine. Although most people report that massage brings relief, and some doctors still recommend this to back pain patients, getting this covered by insurance can be tricky.

Types of Massage

There are many styles of massage therapy, and they are often called modalities.

Examples include Shiatsu, Deep Tissue, Neuromuscular Therapy, Cranial-Sacral Therapy, Rolfing, Network Spinal Analysis, Swedish, Tui Na, Reflexology and others. Each one of these modalities attempts to address the pain at its root, but they do not all have the same effect on every person.

One kind of back pain might be caused by a nerve entrapped by tense muscles near the spine. Another could be a symptom of fibromyalgia, which is primarily a soft tissue and neurological disorder. For pain caused by a nerve entrapment, deep tissue massage like Shiatsu, Rolfing or Neuromuscular Therapy are effective at reducing pain and restoring the natural range of motion. However, the back pain from fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis or whiplash responds best to a gentle, soft-touch massage. Examples include Cranial-Sacral and Network Spinal Analysis.

Back pain is not a completely physical problem, so it may need to be addressed on multiple levels. Bad movement and breathing habits may contribute to the severity and frequency of the back pain, so make sure to address them as well. Combinations of events create back pain, so it makes sense that a combination of activities will be effective in interrupting the cycle of pain.

Let the Hands Tell the Story

Practitioners may use one or more of these modalities to give a back pain massage, but each therapist also has a specific level of skill. Some therapists have many years of experience, excellent training and multiple certifications. Other practitioners approach their work as a part-time way to earn extra money.  The key is to choose one who’s also given service to others who’ve also had back pain complaints.

There are many ways to reduce back pain with massage, and you’ll find that experienced practitioners can also teach exercises designed to prevent the back pain from returning. If you are unsure of where to start ask around, chances are someone in your circle can give a good referral.

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