Case Study: The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low-Back Pain

Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2016 Sep 9;9(3):27-30. doi: 10.3822/ijtmb.v9i3.267. eCollection 2016 Sep.


Objectives: To study the effects of massage on chronic low-back pain in a patient with four different diagnoses: osteoarthritis, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease. The patient's goal was to cut down on the amount of pain medication he takes.

Methods: A 63-year-old man with chronic back pain received four massages across a twenty-day period. Progress was recorded using the Oswestry Low Back Pain Scale, as he self-reported on levels of pain and interference with his activities of daily living.

Results: Improvement was noted in 9 out of 10 measurements of self-reported pain and activities of daily living, with the only exception being his ability to lift heavy objects, which remained unchanged. The most dramatic differences were improvements in his ability to walk, and in the changing degrees of pain. The client also self-reported being able to decrease his pain medication and the ability to ride his bicycle for the first time in years.

Conclusions: Massage therapy is a promising treatment for chronic low-back pain for patients who may have multiple pathologies, any one of which could be responsible for the condition. Further study is encouraged to determine the efficacy of massage therapy as a readily accessible, lower-cost alternative to more invasive therapies and as an adjunct to regular medical care, when appropriate.

Keywords: back pain; degenerative disc disease; osteoarthritis; scoliosis; stenosis.