Massage as treatment for back pain

Massage therapy is gaining popularity as a tool for neck and back pain relief. People have enjoyed massage as a form of self-pampering and as a means to relax for decades. In recent years, massage therapy has been shown to carry a number of health benefits and have merit as a conservative, nonsurgical treatment for back pain.

Keep in mind that not just any massage will help with back pain. Be sure that your massage therapy has been approved by your physician and is administered by a licensed, experienced massage therapist. Massage therapists receive in-depth training on the body’s muscular and skeletal systems, and are taught proper techniques for relieving pain without causing further damage.

Massage therapy benefits

The primary benefit of massage therapy is improved circulation. As the massage therapist stimulates the muscles at the injury site, blood flow increases. This increased blood flow helps the body remove damaged cell fragments and waste products stored in the soft tissues around the injury, and bring in essential nutrients to help healing.

Other benefits of massage therapy include:

  • Muscle relaxation — When your back is injured, the muscles surrounding it may seize up in an attempt to immobilize the injury so it can heal. This stiffness may be extremely painful, and limits range of motion. Massage releases tight muscles, restoring range of motion and relieving pain.
  • Improved sleep — Looser muscles and reduced pain tend to contribute to better sleep, which can help the body heal itself.
  • Better mood — Massage releases endorphins, the neurotransmitters responsible for “runners high.” Endorphins modulate pain signals from nerves and produce a feeling of wellbeing.

Types of massage

Different types of massage provide different benefits. Some of the more common types of massage, and their functions, include:

  • Swedish massage — Often referred to as a “relaxation massage,” a Swedish massage incorporates light stroking and opposite-direction deep pressure. This type of massage relaxes muscles, flushes lactic acid from muscles, and stretched ligaments and tendons. Swedish massage is the most popular form of massage in America.
  • Deep tissue massage — Deep tissue massage seeks to address chronic muscle tension. In deep tissue massage, the massage therapist slows his or her strokes to allow his or her body weight to produce deeper pressure on the muscles. The pressure acts to release tension.
  • Shiatsu massage — This form of massage therapy has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine and is closely related to acupressure. Shiatsu massage uses pressure exerted by the massage therapist’s fingers and thumbs to stimulate the immune system and promote the body’s natural healing functions.

Massage therapy is not right for everyone. If you have a fever, infection, cancer, angina or other conditions, you should not participate in massage therapy. Check with your physician before beginning massage therapy to make sure you don’t have a condition that could be made worse by massage.

If conservative treatment strategies like massage therapy or ultrasound therapy do not effectively relieve the pain caused by spinal stenosis, facet disease, or other spinal conditions, contact Laser Spine Institute to discover how our minimally invasive outpatient procedures may help you recover your health without the need for open spinal surgery.

Our spine care specialists can guide you through your treatment options so you can make a confident decision about the next step in your spine care health.