Low back pain (LBP) is very prevalent in the U.S., with some reports that say up to 80% of Americans have experienced LBP in their lifetime. There are varying degrees of symptoms related to LBP, and many different experiences as well. With that, you may be wondering when to see a massage therapist for low back pain. We will cover this, as well as what techniques are used to relieve LBP. Disclaimer: it is always a good idea to see your Medical Doctor if you are experiencing low back pain prior to having a massage in order to determine if it is right for you.
When Should I See a Massage Therapist?
“Back” to the question of when to see a massage therapist for low back pain (no pun intended). If your pain is related to muscle tightness or muscle guarding, massage can be very helpful to get the muscles to relax and release. You may also have tightness in your leg or hip muscles, such as the piriformis muscle, hamstrings and quadricep muscles that are contributing to your symptoms. Massage can also help to reduce general or local inflammation and improve circulation, thus decreasing pain.
Here are some symptoms that would be a good idea to get evaluated by a Medical Doctor first. If you are experiencing numbness/tingling in the legs, weakness in the legs, changes in your bowel or bladder function, intense pain, foot drop or any significant health changes, then a full evaluation is warranted.
In terms of what techniques are used for decreasing low back pain – it would first be helpful to have a massage therapist take your history and determine your plan of care. For example, if you are in a lot of pain and have muscle guarding, then the therapist may choose a gentler approach such as effleurage or light, long strokes. If you are having muscle tightness in the hips, legs or low back then they may determine that a deep tissue massage is indicated. If inflammation and lack of circulation is the issue, then a massage technique such as lymph massage may be helpful.
The massage therapist will be able to determine which technique is best for you. He or she will also be checking in with you during your massage in order to determine how you are progressing and if your symptoms are decreasing. The goal is to get the client pain-free and eliminate the low back pain so that they can return to regular activities and feel great!