In continuing our series of posts about nonsurgical treatments for back pain, today we’re reviewing magnet and massage therapy.
Most claims regarding the healing power of magnets are from the manufacturers of products that contain magnets. Manufacturers claim the products can relieve various health problems, including chronic pain, by stimulating the body’s natural electrical field.
While research may find magnet therapy to be beneficial someday, no scientific evidence exists now that magnets used in this manner provide any health benefits. Some experts believe inappropriate use of magnets could lead to health problems.
Medical research is being conducted on the use of magnets as a therapy for some forms of chronic pain. Preliminary reports suggest some possible benefits, but more study is needed.
Massage can be a relaxing and revitalizing experience and an excellent addition to a pain management program. Its therapeutic effects include soothing aching muscles and promoting emotional well-being. The benefits of massage are gaining acceptance in traditional medicine as research reveals the healing power of massage for both acute and chronic pain.
Massage therapy is based on the belief that when muscles are overworked, waste products can accumulate in the muscle, causing soreness and stiffness. Massage therapy aims to stimulate blood flow and release toxins from muscles and tissues. It can also help to break the pain-spasm cycle by:
- Relaxing tight muscles or muscles in spasm
- Increasing circulation, which can reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure
- Improving oxygen and nutrition flow to the painful area
- Increasing range of motion
- Finding and relaxing trigger points
- Increasing production of the body’s natural painkillers
The massage therapist, while working systematically with each muscle in the body, may use a light stroke or deep kneading action depending on what he or she thinks is right for the patient and his or her comfort level. Trigger points are relieved through sustained pressure. As it is determined which trigger points contribute to pain, the patient can learn how to massage them to help decrease pain.
Although massage is usually safe, the patient should avoid it if he or she has open sores, acute inflammation, circulatory problems, edema (swelling), herniated discs, fever, or other conditions that require waiting until the acute nature of those conditions has subsided.
To locate a trained massage therapist, ask for referrals from your healthcare provider, or contact:
- American Massage Therapy Association — (847) 864-0123 or www.amtamassage.org
- National Certification Board for Therapeutic — Massage and Bodywork, 1-800-296-0664, (703) 610-9015, or www.ncbtmb.com
Source: Prairie Spine and Pain Institute, Dr. Richard A. Kube II, MD.