Are you experiencing back pain? You aren’t alone. Eighty percent of adults experience back pain sometime in their life. Not sure if that makes you feel better, but it certainly doesn’t make the back pain go away. The good news is that massage can really help.

If you are thinking about surgery to ease your back pain, often massage therapy and chiropractic care can help you avoid surgery. But not always. Regardless, massage can absolutely help with the symptoms before, after or as an alternative to surgery.

There are several reasons, or causes, that contribute to back pain and most of them are mechanical. This means that there is something physically wrong with your spine, discs, muscles or nerves.

Main Causes of Back Pain

The following are common and mechanical reasons that your back hurts:

Sprains and strains (overworked muscles). Weekend warriors, athletes, and let’s be honest, adults in general, often injure their backs in a mild way that can cause a lot of pain. This can happen from twisting or lifting something the wrong way, lifting something too heavy, or overstretching. This may also trigger muscle spasms which can be really painful.

Sciatica. This is a burning pain in the lower back that usually also radiates down one leg. The technical cause for this is compression of the large nerve (sciatic nerve) that travels through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg.  Yikes!

Intervertebral disc degeneration. This is one of the most common mechanical causes of low back pain. It is caused by the normal process of aging where the discs in your back lose their rubbery flexibility and start to deteriorate.

Herniated or ruptured discs. This happens when intervertebral discs are compressed and bulge outward (herniation) or rupture, causing low back pain.

Spinal stenosis. This occurs when the spinal column narrows, which puts puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. This often results in pain or numbness when walking and can lead to weakness of the legs and even loss of sensation.

Radiculopathy. This condition is caused when a spinal nerve root becomes compressed, inflamed and/or injured. Pressure on the nerve root can cause numbness (or a tingling sensation) that can travel to other areas of the body that are served by that nerve. This is sometimes a result of spinal stenosis or herniated/ruptured disc.

Skeletal Misalignments or Irregularities. Congenital anomalies of the spine can cause back pain over time. Sometimes the pain doesn’t show up until adulthood. This can include scoliosis (a curvature of the spine) and lordosis (an abnormally accentuated arch in the lower back.)

Non-Mechanical Causes of Back Pain

In addition to structural issues with the back, there are other causes of back pain that require additional medical attention due to the nature of the cause. This can include:

Kidney stones. These can cause sharp pain in the lower back, usually on one side.

Inflammation. This can include arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoporosis. Reduced bone density over time.  

Endometriosis. The buildup of uterine tissue in places outside the uterus.

Fibromyalgia. A chronic pain syndrome involving widespread muscle pain and fatigue.

How Does Massage Help with Back Pain?

Massage is a gentle, non-invasive way to help ease back pain. It also helps to relax the mind and promote good sleep. Chronic, or long last pain, can be very emotionally stressful as well as physically daunting. Here are some the main ways massage can help with back pain:

Increased blood flow and circulation. This is like feeding injured and sore muscles and tissues. It decreases muscle soreness from physical activity or soft tissue injury (such as muscle strain). When muscles are more relaxed they are more flexible.

Increased endorphin levels. This is the body’s natural pain medicine. The “feel good” chemicals in the brain are release with enhances moods and can decrease depression and anxiety. This helps reduce pain and speeds up recovery. If you have chronic back and/or neck pain you understand how much joy can be had from a few hours of relief.

Improves Sleep Quality. Sleep is very important, especially when recovering from and injury or dealing with pain. Quality sleep is crucial. Massage facilitates physical and mental relaxation that aids with better sleep.

The Best Types of Massage for Back Pain

There are three main types of massage that are helpful in easing back pain:

If you would like to talk more about massage and back pain or would like to book an appointment for yourself or someone you know please call Bilky at 517-898-2899  or you can email at [email protected]dykneads.com.

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