Posted on 28th January 2013
Before trying any new therapies to help manage your pain you should always consult your GP or a qualified medical practitioner prior to going for any treatments as massage may not be beneficial in alleviating certain conditions and could cause more problems. The information below is only for reference purposes and should never be used as any form of medical advice or diagnosis.
Massage is often thought of as a complementary therapy in the UK and, in some instances, can be used to help manage chronic back pain. There are two main types of Massage; Traditional and what we refer to as Mechanical.
Traditional Massage is usually performed by another person using their hand (and in some cases their feet). Common types of traditional massage include Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, Shiatsu and, of course, Back Massage.
One of the benefits of traditional Massage is the wide variety of techniques available, which means you should be able to find a technique that will benefit you and that you are comfortable with. The various techniques used by massage therapists can range from very gentle touch to more intense and vigorous methods, depending on what your needs are.
Traditional Massage can help with Back Pain by helping muscles to relax and by increasing blood circulation to the massaged areas. This, in turn, can lead to the release of endorphins, which can act as the body's own painkiller.
When looking for a Traditional Massage Therapist always look for an experienced and qualified practitioner. This is very important as, at the time or writing, there are no laws or licensing requirements for anyone who calls themselves a Massage Therapist. Unqualified or inexperienced therapists may cause further damage or create more problems. In many instances, your GP will be able to recommend suitable practitioners in your area and we always recommend speaking to them before taking any action yourself. Prices will usually be from around £30 upwards.
We use the term Mechanical Massage to refer to any type of device that is used to perform massage. These can range from “no-tech” devices such as rollers or spiky massage balls to electronic massagers that can be either hand-held or fully body Massage Chairs at the cutting edge of technology. One of the main benefits of Mechanical Massage is that it is possible to have a massage at your convenience in the comfort of your own home.
Devices such as rollers and spiky massage balls can be useful and relatively cheap, however for back pain they can be awkward as you may need another person to help and target the areas that cause the most discomfort.
Hand-held electronic devices are also useful but can be affected by the same issues as the rollers and spiky massage balls, i.e. you may need another person to help target areas of discomfort.
The points mentioned above mean that, for most people, the lower-end massage devices might not be useful for helping manage back pain. Another issue is that using these devices by yourself may cause further problems as you might need to put your body in relatively unnatural positions to target the areas of pain.
Massage Chairs are a high-end alternative to both Traditional Massage Therapists and other Mechanical Devices. Massage Chairs start at around £3000 going up to £5000 and, although this may be considered expensive, are an investment that tends to pay itself off in the long-term if massage is something you would use consistently over a longer period of time as they cost the equivalent of around 50-100 Traditional Massages (depending on how much you might pay for each session).
Massage Chairs will allow you to have a massage anytime in the comfort of your own home and can be used to massage the whole body, not only the back.
Massage can be used to help manage back pain however results can vary for different people. If massage is something you are considering using to help manage back pain we highly recommend consulting your GP first and discussing the various options.