Massage for Back Pain
A recent 5 year study in the US concluded that traditional approaches of bed rest, surgery and traction are in general, overused. The British Medical Association agrees with Canadian and US research, that mainstream medical methods tend to treat symptoms and not the cause.
Their findings discovered that between 70 and 90% of all back pain is caused by muscle spasm:
- A herniated disc – the traditional explanation for back pain accounts for ‘less than 5%’
- About 1% if those with back pain actually require surgery
- 90% of back pain is not caused by damage to the spine and vertebrae, is not caused by bulging, slipped or herniated discs, is not caused by tumours or any other dire diagnosis but simply by muscles in spasm.
As any healthcare professional will tell you, there can be many sources of low back pain involving vertebrae, intervertebral discs and nerves. They will all point out some of these problems on your x- rays, surgeons will be delighted to operate on you for them and others will be more than happy to manipulate them for you.
There are 2 things that are seldom acknowledged:
- The anomalies of the spine seen on x-rays bulging discs, herniated discs, bone spurs, calcium deposits, sub luxations may or may not be the cause of your pain. They are fairly common, even in people who have no pain at all. It is very tempting, when there is pain, to focus on some abnormality found in diagnostic images and assume that it is the cause of the pain but in any given case, that may or may not be true.
- Most low back pain originates in the soft tissues. Whether your back pain is muscular or vertebral in origin, the basic rile remains: first do harm. It only makes sense to begin with the least risky, least invasive treatment available, and then escalate if necessary. That treatment is massage therapy. If it isn’t effective, the other treatments are still available but if it is effective, a lot of time, pain, risk and money have been saved.
Low back pain caused by soft tissue problems is likely to originate in one or more, of three different locations.
Iliopsoas: The primary hip flexor.
It runs down through the abdominal cavity and the groin to the lessor trochanter. Its anchor points are the inner surface of the ilium (iliacus muscle) and the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae which mean that every lifting of the leg pulls on the pelvis and the lumbar spine.
Quadratus Lumborum and its neighbours: the muscle between the bottom rib and the top of the pelvis.
It is a deep muscle and it is situated underneath the lumbar paraspinal muscles. If there are problems in quadrates lumborum, there are also likely to be problems in those thick muscles near the surf
ace on either side of the spine. In addition, muscle problems are invariably accompanied by connective tissue problems. This area, unprotected as it is by any skeletal structures, is thick with connective tissue: the thoracolumbar fascia, the gluteal aponeurosis and other tough connective tissue cover that surround these muscles.
The Buttock Muscles: these include the three gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, medius and minimus) and the deep lateral rotators of the hip, especially piriformis.
Piriformis pain if often mistaken sciatic pain. Pain from this muscle runs down the back of the leg down to the heel in a similar pattern to sciatic pain. The piriformis muscle is one of many muscles that can tighten and entrap the sciatic nerve.
Certainly, other muscles can get involved in the lower pain act but these three muscle groups, all very heavily involved in daily demands we make on our bodies, are the chief sources. Careful examination by a skilled massage therapist can find the trouble spots and appropriate treatment can yield relief that many people have despaired of finding.