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American College of Physicians Recommends Massage for Low Back Pain

Apr 12, 2017 8:00:00 AM by MTTI
massage for back pain relief
Low back pain a problem? Doctors now say: Before you reach for the Advil, consider massage therapy. Back pain is one of the most common injuries suffered by Americans. Sometimes referred to as "throwing your back out," an acute but temporary flare-up of pain in the low back is the second most common neurological ailment and the most common cause of job-related disability. Historically, doctors have recommended that patients take over-the-counter (and sometimes prescription) pain medication to treat this condition. However, new guidelines from the American College of Physicians encourage back pain sufferers to try complementary and alternative medicine including yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy to reduce their pain. 
Doctors have traditionally prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs called NSAIDs to treat temporary back pain. However, NSAIDs have many side-effects including stomach pain and heartburn, headaches, dizziness, stomach ulcers, kidney problems, excessive blood thinning, and allergic reactions. Because this type of back pain will often resolve itself without medical intervention, it may be in the best interest of patients to manage their pain using more holistic methods. Studies have shown that receiving massage therapy can relieve pain and shorten the recovery time for a back injury.

What type of massage therapy is best for treating low back pain? Depending on the source and severity of the pain, different types of massage might help. Overall relaxation such as a full body Swedish massage can help lessen pain symptoms, while a more focused deep tissue massage might target specific muscles involved in low back pain, such as the quadratus lumborum, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles. Both relaxation and structural massage have been shown to have a positive impact on low back pain. Meanwhile, more structural modalities such as neuromuscular therapy or sports massage could help address postural issues and prevent future flare-ups.
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