International Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 106, 2001
Maria Hernandez-Reif, Tiffany Field, Josh Krasnegor and Hillary Theakston
Twenty-four adults with lower back pain were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a progressive muscle relaxation group. Massage and relaxation sessions were 30 minutes long, twice a week for five weeks. On the first and last day of the five-week study participants completed questionnaires, provided a urine sample and were assessed for range of motion. Stress, anxiety, pain and sleep levels were also assessed.
Treatment effects were evaluated for reducing pain, depression, anxiety and stress hormone and sleeplessness and for improving trunk range of motion associated with chronic low back pain.
By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported experiencing less pain, depression, anxiety and improved sleep. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance, and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher. The study showed that massage therapy is effective in reducing pain, stress hormones and symptoms associated with chronic low back pain.