Massage therapy is the manipulation of soft body tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments performed by a trained professional with the goal of enhancing the subject’s wellbeing and health. Massage therapy has been used to treat many different issues, including lower back pain.
Sometimes back pain doesn’t have an obvious reason yet still causes problems for the person who suffers from the pain. Not every treatment plan works for every person but massage therapy is quickly becoming a preferred option to medication and surgery. However, it is important to consult with your doctor before undergoing massage therapy as treatment for your lower back pain just to be sure that there’s not an underlying cause to your pain.
We here at Epic Healthcare in Flower Mound, Texas are happy to address any and all questions that you might have in regard to the use of massage therapy for the treatment of back pain.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
More and more healthcare providers are beginning to recognize massage therapy as a legitimate option for treating lower back pain. In fact, 54% of healthcare providers encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy in addition to traditional medical treatments.
Massage therapy has been shown to lessen lower back pain along with depression and anxiety while helping the patient have improved sleep and a general sense of better well-being. Massage can also help increase the range of motion along with levels of serotonin and dopamine. The American Massage Therapy Association has research showing that massage therapy helps improve blood circulation to help in the recovery of muscles. Techniques used by massage therapists also promote muscle relaxation which can help those who suffer from insomnia. Since massage also increases endorphin levels, patients typically walk away feeling better.
Neuromuscular Massage Therapy for Lower Back Pain
Neuromuscular massage therapy is the most effective type of massage for treating lower back pain. This style of massage is also commonly called trigger point myotherapy. This form of massage is recognized by the American Academy of Pain Management as one of the effective treatment options for back pain that has been caused by soft tissue injury.
This technique uses alternating levels of pressure concentrated on areas of muscle spasms. The pressure can be applied with fingers, the heel of the hand, knuckles, or elbows. The pressure should remain for ten to thirty seconds before being released. Typically muscles that have a tendency to spasm can be painful to touch because the tissue is not getting adequate blood flow. When the muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow then it isn’t getting adequate oxygen. The lack of oxygen causes the muscle to produce lactic acid which causes the soreness.
When the pressure is applied to the muscle the massage therapy will help release the lactic acid from the muscle and increasing blood flow to the muscle. Increased blood flow will provide the muscle with more oxygen and decrease the opportunity for lactic acid to build up again.
Neuromuscular massage therapy can be painful at first, but the pressure is a vital component of relieving the muscle spasm and restoring normalcy to the area. However, it is important that you let your massage therapist know if the pressure is too much or too little. Communicate with your massage therapist because they can’t always tell what you’re feeling. The pressure should never be excessively painful but instead it should feel like a “good pain.”
What to Expect following Neuromuscular Massage Therapy
After your session is complete you may still experience some soreness. However, this feeling should fade after 24 or 26 hours. Your muscles should be noticeably more relaxed for up to fourteen days depending on your stress levels. In addition, the muscle spasm should relax in response to the pressure used by the massage therapist. If the relaxation does not occur, it may be due to inflammation in the area. While neuromuscular massage therapy is a fantastic treatment for back pain, it is not an option generally used for inflamed muscles. If this is the case then you should consult with your doctor for inflammation treatment.
A full treatment of massage therapy typically includes four treatments over the course of six weeks. This treatment schedule has shown the greatest effect for patients. If the muscle spasms are not responding within the first two massages then you may want to seek out alternate treatment as the vast majority of cases show significant improvement after the first two sessions.
Massage therapy can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other treatment options. Our office in Flowermound, Texas will help you find a treatment plan that will work for you and address all your concerns.