Study design: A randomized between-groups design evaluated massage therapy versus relaxation for chronic low back pain.
Objectives: Treatment effects were evaluated for reducing pain, depression, anxiety and stress hormones, and sleeplessness and for improving trunk range of motion associated with chronic low back pain.
Summary of background data: Twenty-four adults (M age=39.6 years) with low back pain of nociceptive origin with a duration of at least 6 months participated in the study. The groups did not differ on age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity or gender.
Methods: Twenty-four adults (12 women) with lower back pain were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a progressive muscle relaxation group. Sessions were 30 minutes long twice a week for five weeks. On the first and last day of the 5-week study participants completed questionnaires, provided a urine sample and were assessed for range of motion.
Results: By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported experiencing less pain, depression, anxiety and improved sleep. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance, and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.
Conclusions: Massage therapy is effective in reducing pain, stress hormones and symptoms associated with chronic low back pain.
Precis: Adults (M age=39.6 years) with low back pain with a duration of at least 6 months received two 30-min massage or relaxation therapy sessions per week for 5 weeks. Participants receiving massage therapy reported experiencing less pain, depression, anxiety and their sleep had improved. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance, and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.