The presence of pain is something all patients dread. Pain can affect a person not only physically, as with what he or she feels, but also that patient’s capacity to do things, complete tasks, live a normal life and communicate or socialize. In short, pain can influence your life for the worst. One of the most common complaints for pain would be related to back pain and this is why specialists are always very specific when analyzing effective pain relief for back pain. Back pain is complicated since it could come from different aspects. For any medical specialist, understanding pain and effective pain management is important to ensure faster pain reduction and help the patient make faster recovery.
Understanding back pain
A comprehensive article by Richard Deyo and James Weinstein for the New England Journal of medicine addresses the various aspects of back pain and how different types of back pain require different treatment methods. Low back pain can be attributed to problems with the spine, facet joints, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and others. The most common reasons for back pain include injuries to muscles and ligaments as well as degenerative problems common to the elderly population. Other risks include herniated discs and stenosis of the spine.
According to an idiopathic study on lower back pain, most of the patients who have some form of lower back pain cannot be provided with concrete medical diagnosis. It is hard to correlate symptoms with X-rays. This is why most types of back pains are considered nonspecific since they are very hard to address. Before patients are given suggestions for pain relief for back pain, an exhaustive diagnosis and testing is done to effectively narrow down the problem. This includes analysis if medical history, physical examination, Imaging and evaluation.
Therapeutic methods for pain relief vary depending on the diagnosis. For most nonspecific lower back pain problems, therapy would include the use of NSAIDs if there is swelling present in the area. Symptomatic relief is a more general approach and according to specialists, it is better used for regular schedules. Alternative treatments such as massage, therapy or spinal manipulation are good if symptomatic treatments are not ideal especially if the patient is also taking other medications. Massage is the most popular alternative method and is already increasing in popularity amongst medical practitioners and specialists. Sadly, there is limited study about the efficacy of massage compared to more direct approaches like spinal manipulation.
Massage and general pain
According to an article published by the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, applying massage in an acute care setting can increase positive results in handling psychological and physical aspects related to their health. The study reveals that there is significant improvement in managing pain levels and there is also an improvement in relaxation, perception of pain, sleeping patterns and overall well-being. Massage on its own is yet to be further analyzed as a medical treatment for back pain and the reason is that there are numerous factors that are always connected to a person’s psychological condition, perception and physical condition that are all influenced by massage.
Cochrane identifies in a published online study that while there are actual physical benefits to massage therapy for the lower back, the benefits are not permanent and cannot be considered a cure. These are temporizing and beneficial processes and are said to be helpful for those with acute, sub-acute and chronic back pain though it requires further exercise and education.
Massage therapy, according to a published article at the American Massage Therapy Association, has an increasing body of research in analyzing its effects on pain management. To support the claim, a study from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations suggested that the use of non-drug therapy can be effective in reducing pain. The article further elucidates that massage therapy is effective due to its “simple and direct strategy using a more holistic method and addressing the needs of the entire body system as connected to the soft tissues.
Apart from the direct benefits, the AMTA article also elucidates that massage enables the person to be more aware about the pain, the sensation, and location. The therapist is also capable of providing a comforting experience for the patient in that they do not alienate themselves about the pain or region of pain, but be more aware that they have control of their bodies.
The benefits of massage is not just present in managing pain focused at the back, but also those people finding stress and pain in other health problems such as cancers and other diseases. While massage is generally safe, it is vital to ask the opinion of a doctor before considering this as a method for pain relief for back pain.