Far too often, patients present to our clinic reporting that they have been regularly going for massage (sometimes for years) to alleviate their back pain, only to report that within a couple of days the pain comes back.
But they go back the next month and expect something different?
In this week’s blog, I wanted to explain why massages are ineffective at actually fixing the majority of lower back issues.
What is actually causing back pain?
In the vast majority of cases, lower back pain is caused by what I like to call ‘the overload continuum’. Sounds fancy right?
Basically it is the idea that over time, force (i.e. your body weight in various postural positions like sitting) gradually load up your muscles first, then your spinal joints, then your intervertebral discs.
A patient can present to physiotherapy at any position on this continuum, but most of the time, it is when they have overloaded their lower back spinal joints.
Therefore, if you simply go and get a massage on your muscles all you are really doing is attending to the first component of that continuum, not to the stiff joints, which is really where the problem lies.
The stiff joints need to be treated as well as the muscles massaged, otherwise you are only tackling one component of the problem.
So what is the answer?
The next time you are considering getting any type of massage to alleviate your back pain, ask yourself this simple question: ‘Have I been dealing with this back pain for more than 2 weeks?’ If the answer is yes, the more than likely, you need to have your lower back joints mobilized with a specific technique that physiotherapists know how to deliver (massage therapists are not allowed to manipulate/mobilise spinal joints).
If it is only a mild back ache that has only been there for a day or two and you haven’t had any issues with back pain prior to that, then a massage will suffice in most cases.
In utilising this approach, you will ensure you get the best possible outcome from your treatment and best return for your time and money.
If you think you need more than a massage, reach out to us at the clinic and come in for an assessment to determine the exact cause of your back pain.
Yours in health