Objective: To observe the therapeutic effect of lumbar tender point deep tissue massage plus lumbar traction on chronic non-specific low back pain using change in pressure pain threshold, muscle hardness and pain intensity as indices.
Methods: We randomly divided 64 patients into a treatment group (32 cases) and a control group (32 cases). Two drop-outs occurred in each group. Patients in the treatment group received tender point deep tissue massage plus lumbar traction and patients in the control group received lumbar traction, alone. We used a tissue hardness meter/algometer and visual analog scale (VAS) to assess the pressure pain threshold, muscle hardness and pain intensity.
Results: Following treatment, we obtained the following results in the treatment and control groups, respectively: the pressure pain threshold difference was 1.5 +/- 0.8 and 1.1 +/- 0.7; the muscle hardness difference was 4.2 +/- 1.6 and 3.5 +/- 1.3; and the VAS score difference was 1.9 +/- 0.9 and 1.4 +/- 0.8. Compared to the control group, the treatment group had higher pressure pain threshold (t = 2.09, P < 0.05), and lower muscle hardness (t = 2.05, P < 0.05) and pain intensity (t = 2.46, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Lumbar tender point deep tissue massage combined with lumbar traction produced better improvement in pressure pain threshold, muscle hardness and pain intensity in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain than with lumbar traction alone.