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Massage News - June 2014

Massage News - June 2014

Benefits of Clinical Massage Therapy for Chronic Lower Back Pain

Clinical massage therapy has alleviated chronic lower back pain (CLBP) in patients who participated in a recent University of Kentucky study of complementary therapies.

Researchers in the University of Kentucky Department of Family and Community Medicine recently completed a study pointing to real-world evidence that clinical massage therapy helps reduce symptoms in CLBP patients. The department partnered with 67 primary care providers (PCPs) and 26 massage therapists in urban and rural Central Kentucky to study provider decision-making for complementary treatments and short-term effects of clinical massage and progressive muscle relaxation therapies for CLBP patients.

Through the study, PCPs in five counties referred CLBP patients with point of service cards to community practicing, licensed massage therapists for clinical massage therapy or to a course of patient-administered progressive muscle relaxation therapy. All study therapies were provided to patients free-of-charge. Of the 100 participants in the study, 85 received clinical massage therapy, and 54 percent of those patients reported a clinically meaningful decrease of pain and overall disability.

Study investigators Dr. William Elder, UK Family and Community Medicine, and Dr. Niki Munk, Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, are currently disseminating study results on the regional and international level. They recently presented results at the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health 2014, May 13-16 in Miami.

Elder, principal investigator for the study, said CLBP is a common diagnosis, especially in people who have performed physical labor as part of their job. The musculoskeletal problem is perpetuated by the patient's emotional stress or anxiety. Because more members of the aging population expect to maintain healthy functioning into their later years, medical researchers are interested in measuring the effectiveness of alternatives to habit-forming pain medications, such as narcotics.

"CLBP is interesting because most people recover, but those who don't usually have some very challenging circumstances that they are living with and a propensity to experience stress," Elder said.

The study served to forge relationships between the University and community massage therapists. In addition, the study indicates a need for future research investigating the extent to which complementary therapies could lessen or eliminate the patient's reliance on opioids for CLBP symptoms. While long-term studies are needed to fully understand the benefits of clinical massage therapy, Elder said the initial study may give physicians a higher level of confidence to refer patients to massage therapists practicing in the community.

"I think the study has promise for the possibility that someday these treatments could have parity and be available to patients suffering these problems," Elder said. "This was a real-world study with real-world results because we were able to engage our primary care providers and massage therapists."

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Help complete a groundbreaking study: Structural Integration for chronic low back pain

Now, you can support a research into manual therapy for Lower Back Pain.

The study by Harvard Medical School research scientist Eric Jacobson, Ph.D., “Structural Integration for Chronic Low Back Pain,” has been funded by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. However that funding has run out—with analysis of data on pain disability, balance, gait, blood biomarkers and psychology uncompleted. Massage therapists and the public can contribute via the Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation to support a new clinical study’s continuation and publication. The foundation will match the first $10,000 in contributions.

You can donate at:

Lower back pain top cause of disability

Lower back pain causes more disability than any other conditions, including infections, depression and cardiac disease, a global study has found. And according to study co-author, rheumatologist and epidemiologist Professor Rachelle Buchbinder, of Monash University in Melbourne, it is also on the rise — a product of ageing populations, increasing obesity and inactive lifestyles.

Buchbinder and colleagues looked at the global prevalence of low back pain and its impact, in terms of the number of years of disability it caused people. Their data came from a massive research effort called the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Their detailed analysis involved data from 187 countries across the globe, where low back pain was compared to 291 other conditions, including infectious disease, mental health, issues and cardiac disease.

Buchbinder and team found 9.4 per cent of people in the study had low back pain. "Back pain was the number one cause of disability in most countries around the world, including Australia," she adds. The findings were published recently in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases .

Occupational health expert Professor Tim Driscoll from the University of Sydney says the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study gave a greater "weighting" to back pain than that given in past studies.

While he says some have questioned this weighting, Driscoll defends it, saying it was developed following a comprehensive survey of the community's perception of the impact of back pain on people's lives.

Work-related back pain In the same issue of the journal, Driscoll reports findings that agricultural workers have the highest risk of low back pain. Agricultural workers are 3.7 times more likely to suffer low back pain than office workers, while scientists are 1.2 times more likely, he says.

"Work-related back pain is responsible for about a third of all the disability coming from occupational risk factors." "Regardless of your age, gender and the occupation you are in, occupational back pain is a significant issue for people."

While work-related back pain is responsible for a quarter of all back pain, this proportion is falling, says Driscoll, as manual labour declines. However, Buchbinder points out, the overall burden of back pain is on the rise. Her study showed the number of years lived with a disability due to low back pain rose from 58.2 million in 1990 to 83 million in 2010. She says this is likely due to an increase in obesity and inactivity and an ageing population, which are all known to be risk factors for low back pain.

From ABC Science

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