Comparison between massage and routine physical therapy in women with sub acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2014;27(4):475-80. doi: 10.3233/BMR-140468.


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the comparison of massage therapy and routine physical therapy on patients with sub acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain.

Methods and materials: Thirty volunteer female subjects with a sub acute or chronic nonspecific low back pain were randomly enrolled in two groups, massage therapy and routine physical therapy. After massage application, the hamstring and paravertebral muscles stretching and also stabilizing exercises were prescribed. In the routine physical therapy group, TENS, US and vibrator were used besides exercises. Pain intensity according to Numerical Rating Scale, functional disability level in accordance to Oswestry Disability Index, and modified Schober test, for measurement of flexion range of motion, before and after ten sessions of treatment were used to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.

Results: Pain intensity, Oswestry Disability Index and flexion range of motion had shown significant differences before and after intervention in both groups (p<0.001). The statistical analysis revealed that the massage therapy had significantly improved the pain intensity and Oswestry Disability Index compared to routine physical therapy (p=0.015, p=0.013 respectively), but the range of motion changes were not significant between two groups (p=1.00).

Conclusion: It can be concluded that both massage therapy and routine physical therapy are useful for sub acute and chronic nonspecific low back pain treatment especially if accompanied with exercise. However, massage is more effective than other electrotherapy modalities, and it can be used alone or with electrotherapy for the treatment of patients with low back pain.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome