Massage therapy for low back pain: a systematic review

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1999 Jan;17(1):65-9. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(98)00129-8.


Massage therapy is frequently employed for low back pain (LBP). The aim of this systematic review was to find the evidence for or against its efficacy in this indication. Four randomized clinical trials were located in which massage was tested as a monotherapy for LBP. All were burdened with major methodological flaws. One of these studies suggests that massage is superior to no treatment. Two trials imply that it is equally effective as spinal manipulation or transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES). One study suggests that it is less effective than spinal manipulation. It is concluded that too few trials of massage therapy exist for a reliable evaluation of its efficacy. Massage seems to have some potential as a therapy for LBP. More investigations of this subject are urgently needed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Massage*