The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low Back Pain

Posted:Sunday, August 18, 2013

Silver Award Winner
Laura Allen from Rutherfordton, NC

Backround and Objective- To enable the subject to cut down on pain medication, currently prescribed at 7.5 mg of Percocet (acetaminophen and oxycodone) 4 times per day, through the help of massage therapy. The subject states he does not like to take it that frequently because it makes him feel lethargic and disoriented. A 53-year old male, formerly employed as a construction worker, was referred for massage therapy for treatment of debilitating low back pain. He has pain in all areas of the back; although he sometimes experiences cervical pain and/or thoracic pain, he reports the majority of his pain is in the lumbar area. He has multiple diagnoses of osteoarthritis, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease.

Methods- The massage used was a combination of Swedish strokes (effleurage, petrissage, and friction), muscle stripping, and myofascial release, techniques chosen based on the practitioner’s 14 years of experience in working with clients who are in pain. A treatment plan of 6 weekly visits was agreed upon with re-evaluation after the sixth visit.

Results- Progress was measured using the Oswestry Low Back Pain Scale and by subjective statements on his decreased pain level and decreased need for medication, and positive effects on his activities of daily living. The massage therapy intervention was so successful that the subject switched to monthly maintenance care after four sessions instead of six as originally planned. Conclusion: The success of this intervention for this subject suggests that massage therapy can be an effective intervention for chronic low back pain.