Massage for Back Pain and its’ Oh-So-Many Causes Part 1

Massage for Back Pain

Massage for Back Pain is one of the leading reason doctors send patients to massage therapy.1 Lower back pain in particular is something we see a lot. A whole lot. In fact it’s the single most cited cause for people coming to me. The second most cited reason in shoulder pain. Problem is that lower back pain has about twenty different causes. Before you can get a massage for back pain, I need to know what kind of back pain I’m massaging. Sounds simple right? A little secret though, is that it’s most likely not your back causing your back pain. There are 12 distinct types of lower back pain and only three have anything to do with low back muscles. But if you want to know the most common cause of back pain… it’s your hamstrings.

Let’s start with the things you most likely do not have: Sciatica

  • Sciatica nerve impingement between vertebrae
  • Sciatica nerve entrapment between two soft tissues.
  • Slipped disks (also called a partial vertebral hernia, most people have them but it is not strongly associated with pain)2

Massage for Lower Back Pain if it’s really Sciatica

Sciatica is a term most people use to describe a sharp line of pain anywhere from lower back down to their foot. Infact doctors are starting to move away from the term “Sciatica” as more detailed science gives us a better idea what is going on. The Sciatic Nerve can get trapped in the sacrum as it emerges from the spine, the pelvis between two muscles, in the hip joint, or in the thigh. Depending on where it is trapped will depend on how to treat it, but will make little difference to symptoms.

A chiropractor will be able to help you if the nerve is stuck between bone, and a massage therapist can help you if it is stuck between two muscles. The most common muscles is the piriformis. It’s so common it has its own classification called piriformis syndrome. This is simply because the Sciatica goes right through the middle of the muscle (located below your glutes) and that muscle is prone to tightness, and therefore squeezes the nerve. It’s a simple fix that requires a glute massage rather than a back massage.

Slipped disks are something a see a lot as well. Its also Something that is hard to deal with. There are many reasons why disks move out of place and once they do they don’t go back without surgery. Sometimes surgery can’t help the pain. Back Pain from a slipped disk might be neural or muscular. Weather or not the root cause of the pain is neural there will be muscular problems to add to it. the disks provide a padding around the nerves so they don’t get crushed. If that padding is gone or reduced the muscles force you to bend so you don’t put pressure on the nerve. Then they go in to cramp to keep you in that position. Massage can ease the cramp and allow you to recover.

Part 2: More Likely Causes for Low Back Pain.

  • Tight posterior rectors that start from the sacrum and go to the head.
  • Tight Quadratus lumborum
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Massage for Back Pain
Massage for Back Pain is one of the leading reason doctors send patients to massage therapy. Learn more about what causes your back pain and how a Massage Therapist can help.