According to a new government-funded study, massage therapy may be better than medication or exercise for easing lower back pain, at least in the short term.
Researchers looked at 400 adults who had low back pain for at least three months with no identified cause. They divided the group into three: people who received traditional medical care without massage - including medications or physical therapy; those who got a relaxation or Swedish massage; and those who had structural massages - a technique which targets tissues and joint structures.
Those in the massage groups received one hour of massage a week for 10 weeks.
At the end of the study, both massage groups reported less pain and more mobility than the group who received traditional treatment care. At 26 weeks, massage participants showed improved function compared to the others. But, after a year, the benefits were questionable.
The authors say more study is needed to better understand the beneficial effects of massage on low back pain.