The Group Health Research Institute of Seattle, Washington has published a study in Annals of Internal Medicine that showed massage therapy may effectively reduce or relieve chronic back pain. I am a big believer and supporter of massage therapy and have wondered why it is not a covered benefit for treating back and neck pain. Even medical benefits savings plans offered by employers (where you put aside your own pre-tax dollars to be used for medical care) do not allow massage. Patients who get massage for musculoskeletal conditions do better and utilize less pain meds, yet is is seldom prescribed and rarely covered by any insurance plan.
This study confirmed what I have known for a long time. They looked at relaxation massage and structural massage, which focuses on correcting soft-tissue abnormalities. At 10 weeks they found that participants (age 20-65 years) who had chronic low back pain responded to both types of massage. In fact, the patients receiving massage were twice as likely as those receiving usual care to report significant improvement in both pain and function that lasted 6 months.
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*