Since 1990, disability due to back pain has risen by more than 50% with around 25% of Australians suffering from low back pain. Almost all cases of lower back pain that is presented in primary health care has no specific cause or source of pain, making it difficult to treat and diagnose. Since the source of most back pain is obscure, opting for surgery can be a risky move. Not only is it much more expensive but ‘an intact spine is always better than a surgically altered spine’ according to Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, US journalist and author of ‘Outwitting the back pain industry and getting on the road to recovery’.
Additionally, in an interview for The Health Report for ABC News (2018), orthopaedic surgeon, Professor Harris, suggests against surgery in anyone that experiences degenerative spinal changes and lower back pain that does not interfere with neurological function. He doesn’t recommend surgical intervention unless there has been trauma, a tumour of some sort of neurological deficit due to vertebral implications. Other treatment options for acute lower back pain can include medications such as narcotics and muscle relaxants, steroid injections, assistive devices and of course massage therapy.
Remedial massage is a great way to decrease idiopathic acute low back pain without the heavy financial burden. Although there is no single specific cause of acute lower back pain, the most common cause is a torn or pulled muscle/ligament that occurs from spraining or straining from lifting heavy objects with poor technique, sudden movements and falls and sporting injuries that usually involve twists and force impact.
Generally those with labour-intensive or completely stationary occupations, overweight individuals, older adults and athletes are most at risk of developing some kind of lower back pain.
Health care providers are recommended and recognising remedial massage more as a treatment option for lower back pain with 54% of healthcare providers will encourage patients with low back pain to pursue massage therapy.
Remedial massage helps to release muscle spasms and muscle tension, increase the ROM and improves the healing time of strained ligaments and muscles – the most common cause of back pain. It’s a great way to loosen the muscles that contribute to lower back pain, increase mobility, increase blood flow to and from the area, and most importantly, reduce pain. Relieving tension and enhancing movement and function in the lower back will then enable lower back pain sufferers to commence a strengthening rehabilitation program sooner and thus reduce time out of action.
Compared to other options such medications such as muscle relaxants and narcotics, back braces epidural steroid injections and surgery, remedial massage is not only more cost effective but it’s non-invasive, very accessible and allows for an individualised, tailored treatment.