The Results On Massage Are Mixed But Its Also Pretty Harmless
In general, massage therapists work by manipulating the muscle and soft tissue of the back and body. There are many, many different styles of massage: Swedish, deep tissue, sport, myofascial release, Thai, the list goes on. Massages also vary in how long they last, how much pressure is used, and how frequent sessions are, which makes the evidence for massage pretty difficult to interpret.
But theres good news here: Massage is pretty harmless, and the researchers who study back pain say the approach makes sense from a pain relief perspective. So it may be worth trying.
According to AHRQ, for subacute and chronic low back pain, massage seems to improve symptoms and function in the short term but theres no evidence that it leads to any long-term change. At best, youll get a bit of immediate relief, but nothing lasting.
The Cochrane systematic review on massage for low back pain looked at 25 trials on massage and, like AHRQ, found short-term improvements in pain and function for both subacute and chronic low back pain but a very mixed evidence base.
Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
- Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.
Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.
Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.
*a Note On The Methods For This Installment Of Show Me The Evidence
Theres a mountain of research on low back pain. So I zeroed in on the highest-quality evidence: systematic reviews. These are syntheses of the research evidence that bring together all the highest-quality studies to come to more fully supported conclusions.
I found the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality , a federal agency that crunches the best available data on the effectiveness of health care interventions and had recently published a comprehensive 800-page systematic review of research on noninvasive treatments for low back pain. The AHRQ review covered 156 of the best back pain studies from 2008 to April 2015. I then searched for low back painrelated systematic reviews on PubMed Health, the government search engine that specializes in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, to cover the recent period left out of the AHRQ review .
To make sure I wasnt missing anything, I consulted the chronic and acute low back pain articles on UpToDate, , the Cochrane Library of systematic reviews, and guidelines.gov, and sometimes followed the footnotes in these reviews to other studies. Ramins book Crookedwas also an excellent source for thinking on back pain. Finally, I conducted interviews with nine back pain doctors and researchers, including authors of many of the systematic reviews referenced here.
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to John Sarnos medical specialty as psychiatry. Instead, it was rehabilitation medicine.
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What Do You Do About Back Pain
It is human nature to think wisely and act foolishly.
Johns story is tragic and unfortunately not a one-off situation. As a matter of fact, his story is a paraphrased testimony of a patient I had treated after the events had transpired.
The reactive pill-popping mentality leads down a slippery slope. Drugs are not inherently bad. The long-term side effects of drug usage are bad. When drugs are misused you fall into a bad place.
Luckily, for John, he didnt become a statistic in the opioid epidemic like my friend Tom.
However, John got stuck looking for answers riding the Health Care-ousel. And it happens far too often. No wonder back pain is the leading cause of disability in America.
In 2016, low back and neck pain had the highest amount of health care spending with an estimated $134.5 billion.
You would think with all the information available at our fingertips you could Google search for an answer for back pain. Theres plenty of answers to go around take a look. Better yet, ask Alexa, Alexa, how do I fix my back pain? Youll get an answer.
This is why I didnt lay out every diagnosis of back pain its already out there.
The problem is there are hoards of information available to sift through. Remember the Facebook post example? Its an anecdotal popularity contest. We are drawn to the latest fads, which prey on our vulnerability to take the easy way out.
Were biased its human nature.
Drugs arent bad.
Physical therapy isnt bad.
Acupuncture Seems To Help Too Sort Of Though Its More Controversial
One of the oldest approaches to back pain is acupuncture, a core part of traditional Chinese medicine. The philosophical underpinning of acupuncture is that disease or pain in the body is the result of imbalances between the bodys yin and yang forces. Vital energy circulates throughout the body along the so-called meridians, which have either Yin or Yang characteristics, the Cochrane authors explain. Using needles to stimulate the parts of the body that are located on these meridians can modulate pain or reverse disease, practitioners claim.
A 2005 Cochrane review looked at the evidence for acupuncture and low back pain and came to a few useful conclusions: There was insufficient evidence to make any recommendations about acupuncture for acute low back pain so it may or may not help people. For chronic pain, acupuncture seemed to offer more pain relief when compared with no treatment or sham acupuncture . The needling also improved function in the short-term when compared with no treatment for chronic pain sufferers. But acupuncture was not more effective than other treatments.
UpToDate looked at more recent research and noted that the studies on acute pain were still limited, and that evidence for acupunctures effects on chronic pain is somewhat conflicting. The review also noted it was unclear whether acupunctures benefit lies in the needling, or in the placebo effect.
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Everything About Fix My Back Pain System
When you purchase Fix My Back Pain system, youll get the video course outlining details of the BR3 method, which teaches you how to reshape your lower back and streamline your lumbar spine to solve most back pain issues. The three methods intended to reshape back pains as suggested by Mike Westerdal are:
The Trapezius Muscle 3 Parts
Upper trapezius: Primary functions are cervical extension, lateral flexion, rotation, and scapular elevation (what would look like is elevating your shoulder up towards your ear.
Middle trapezius: Its primary function is scapular retraction.
Lower trapezius: Primary function is scapular depression and thats when you pull your shoulders back and down. A download movement.
Another muscle that will also release is the levator scapulae because it accomplishes many similar functions of the trapezius muscle such as cervical extension, lateral flexion, and ipsilateral rotation.
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Thoughts On How To Fix An Arched Back
Hi Mark,I have several issues with my posture and I always have . I have rounded shoulders, forward neck, hunch back, one side of my hips and ribcage sticks out more than the other, and I think I have Lordosis or a pelvic tilt. Ive been looking at your exercises and Im wondering about a few things.
1. If I need to fix so many things, how can I work out which exercises to do and how do I work out a routine ? If I need to do them 2-3 times a week, how can I fit everything in to make sure that Im trying to get the most out of doing this?.
2. Does sleep posture affect your overall posture that much? I cant sleep on my back, so I usually sleep on my front or on my sides or sometimes In a fetal-like position and my neck is always so far forward. My question is, would it be better to try and sleep on my back with a high pillow? All my pillows are low but soft, and I have a bamboo pillow which is bigger and harder, but It might be too high. I think this might not help my neck posture.
3. Everytime I try and sit up straight , It hurts so bad that the only way I can get relief is sitting back into my bad posture. Sometimes its so bad, I get migraines. How do i fix this?
4. The top of my back , looks like it has a massive hump. Its so embarrassing. Will this eventually go away if I fix my posture?
I apologise for the questions.Thank you!
But it does not apply to everyone.
All the best with the exercises, Nancy.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Reasons Your Back Pain Is Worse When You Wake Up
Why my back pain when i wake up. Theres another underlying cause of morning stiffness and that is inflammation. Among other things, back pain can be caused by any of the following: In our 40s and older, work injuries and the beginnings of arthritis and degenerative conditions are more common.
To help solve the problem of low back pain or aching in the morning, you should first know the causes. Blend of christian, gospel and praise 1) fluid in spinal discs.
Your old mattress could be the cause of hip pain in the morning after sleeping. Back pain is usually the morning alarm for many people, causes them to wake up early due to the discomfort. Why is my lower back pain worse in the morning?
Sleeping on the back can cause the lower back to arch. In this article we will take a look at some of the more common causes of back pain upon waking, and what you can do to reduce your pain and wake up feeling great. Stiffness usually lasts for 30 minutes or less.
Blend of christian, gospel and praise There are many causes of back pain that can be treated by yourself if you take some measures on your own. This has a lot to do with the inflammation and restriction of space in the spine we mentioned above and because of muscles tensing to protect structurally compromised sections of the spine while we sleep.
Morning back & neck pain. Spinal fluid is necessary to allow for all of our spinal motions While morning back pain can be periodic, some people experience it more often than others.
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Find Relief Through Ice And Heat
Break out that bag of frozen peas for the first 48 hours after the pain sets in, and put it to use for 20 minutes a session, several sessions per day. After those two days are behind you, switch to 20-minute intervals with a heating pad.
Localized cooling shuts down capillaries and reduces blood flow to the area, which helps ease the swelling, says Lisa DeStefano, DO, an associate professor at Michigan State Universitys College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing. Cold also thwarts your nerves ability to conduct pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, loosens tight muscles and increases circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the rescue.
I Call Upon The Hamstring Test Get Your Thinking Cap On
Tight hamstrings back pain as I like to refer to has pushed you back enough, its time to start pushing back against it, but first
Great, you have the information about what hamstrings are, and what happens when they get tight, but how do you know for sure your are tight? By physically checking.
Right from the gecko, youll know your hamstring is going to be tight if youre always active, and constantly are listening to your body. Here is the not so secret test, ready?
Did you touch your toes? Wait Wait..Dont answer that before me
I can actually answer that for you. Its a definite no.! Some magic? Not exactly. You came here to find out if weak hamstrings cause your lower back pain and even the slightest amount of pain is enough to keep you away from your 10 toes.
If you felt pain in the backs of your thighs, thats affirmative, tight hamstrings.
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Keep Your Shoulders Back
As a child, you probably heard some form of those commands once, or maybe even a thousand times. When you were little, these phrases were just words adults liked to say. Now, they hold a much deeper meaning. Bad posture doesnt just make you look slouched over and closed off it affects your health.
Bad posture is an epidemic in the U.S. affecting millions of individuals. And its not as simple or unimportant as some make it out to be. Poor posture causes more mental and physical health complications than most people know. These complications can have long lasting effects on your overall health, for the rest of your life. Below youll find a list of ways poor posture can negatively affect you, and a list of ways you can improve your posture to avoid the negative effects.
Things You Can Do To Ease Back Pain
Any of these conditions can cause inflammation or pressure on nerves or pain. When this happens, Cleveland Clinic back pain specialists recommend:
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Trapezius Pain Relief Video Tutorial
Full disclosure: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. I only mention products I personally have used and recommendand if you purchase from Amazon using my affiliate link, I get a small commission. You wont pay more!
Step 1: Is The Trapezius Overactive?
The first sign that youre dealing with overactivity and tightness is having a default rounded shoulder posture.
The Pulling Exercise Test:
Stand with your hands reaching forward. Imagine pulling a band towards you. You can certainly try with the band as well .
If, as you pull in, your shoulders start to elevate. This is a sign of an overactive and tight upper trapezius and levator scapulae .
The Pressing Exercise Test:
Grab very light dumbbells .
Press the weight up and notice if youre arms are falling forward with any shoulder elevation.
This is a sign of a tight pectoral muscle, latissimus dorsi as well as weak mid-lower trapezius.
Step 2: Release Trapezius Tightness
One of the best tools to target the upper trapezius is the Theracane.
Itll help you take control of how much pressure you apply. As you get more comfortable with the handheld tool, you can apply more pressure to release the soft tissue.
The Thera cane website contains tutorials on how to use this amazing tool .
Another way to release the trapezius is simply by using the massage ball against the wall. The massage ball is also very effective as you can easily control it.
Latissimus Dorsi Release
Deep tissue release summary:
Flexion And Extension Mobilization
To relieve flexion related pain you can perform extension mobilizations to coax the disc back into position. Mckenzie exercises are an effective way to do this:
The Mckenzie method, also called mechanical diagnosis and therapy was developed by New Zealand physical therapist Robin McKenzie in 1981 and is based on repeated movements and sustained positions to centralize and eventually eliminate lower back pain.
Flexion mobilization is how were going to stabilize the disc in extension related back pain:
These movements arent exercises theyre ways to gently manipulate a protruding disc back into the neutral position, relieving pressure on the nearby nerves.
Flexibility is an important factor in injury prevention and rehabilitation, which brings us to step 2.
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Ask Your Doctor About Herbal Remedies
Many over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease back pain. But you may want to ask your doctor about herbal remedies as well.
For example, ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It may help reduce inflammation associated with back pain, especially helpful after strenuous activities. Consider simmering fresh ginger root slices in hot water for about 30 minutes to prepare a spicy but soothing cup of tea. Capsaicin has also shown some promise for reducing pain. Its the active ingredient in chili peppers. You can find it in both topical cream and oral supplement forms.