Massage Therapy for Back Pain
Massage therapy can help with back pain
Massage therapy is a safe and effective method to treat back pain. Often it is all that’s needed to get lasting relief. It can also be a useful addition to physical therapy treatments. If your pain is so severe that you are considering back surgery please give massage a try first — it just might do the trick. And if you have already gotten surgery massage can help speed up your recovery.
What is a backache or back pain?
Most everyone has at some time had a backache. Perhaps you overdid it doing that yard work, or being a weekend warrior playing sports, but now you have a nagging backache. For many people, however, that backache intensifies over time into intense back pain. It could be pain in the upper back, a stabbing sensation between the shoulder blades, sharp pain in your lower back, and can even shoot down your legs. Chronic back pain can indeed be very severe, even disabling. In fact, lower back pain is one the most frequent reasons for physician office visits.
What causes it?
Many factors may be involved in back pain. Sometimes it stems directly from trauma or abrupt injury to tissues from a car accident, sports injury, or work injury. Often it slowly creeps up over time due to repetitive stress to the tissues. Doing the same motion over and over again at work, chasing after and picking up a young child, or sitting for long hours in front of a computer could result in back pain. Poor posture and poor ergonomics are usually factors as well. Over time trigger points can form in the tissues, creating yet another source of pain.
Sometimes the pain itself comes directly from injured tissues. Often the pain is the result of a nerve being compressed by a tight muscle or a distortion of a vertebra or facet joint (where a rib attaches to the spine). Left untreated it often gets worse.
How massage therapy can help
A thorough assessment is needed first in order to determine which strategy to use.
Simply relaxing muscles can sometimes help restore correct muscle tone. If tissues are injured lymphatic massage can aid recovery, especially if edema is present, while massaging surrounding tissues can help reduce tension at the injury site.
Releasing the tension in a tight muscle which is compressing a nerve can relieve pain. This might involve using cross fiber friction techniques, deep tissue, longitudinal stokes, PNF stretches, or neuromuscular therapy if trigger points are involved. All of these techniques are also used in an overall strategy to improve posture to avoid future nerve compression as well as to restore bio-mechanical balance to distorted joints.