published August 4, 2017
By Julia Belluz
Millions of back patients are floundering in a medical system that isn’t equipped to help them. They’re pushed toward intrusive, addictive, expensive interventions that often fail or can even harm them, and away from things like yoga or psychotherapy, which actually seem to help. Meanwhile, Americans and their doctors have come to expect cures for everything — and back pain is one of those nearly universal ailments with no cure. Patients and taxpayers wind up paying the price for this failure, both in dollars and in health.
More and more people are seeking out alternative therapies for back pain. While yoga, massage, and acupuncture have been around for a long time, there was little high-quality research out there to understand their effects, and doctors often looked down on the practices. But over the past decade, that’s changed.
… Massage therapists work by manipulating the muscle and soft tissue of the back and body. There are many, many different styles of massage: Swedish, deep tissue, sport, myofascial release, Thai, the list goes on. Massages also vary in how long they last, how much pressure is used, and how frequent sessions are, which makes the evidence for massage pretty difficult to interpret. But there’s good news here: Massage is pretty harmless, and the researchers who study back pain say the approach makes sense from a pain relief perspective.
See the entire (long and detailed) article at vox.com/science-and-health/2017/8/4/15929484/chronic-back-pain-treatment-mainstream-vs-alternative.