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Back Pain & Osteoporosis

2004 Edition

New Research:
Massage Is Cost-Effective Treatment for Back Pain

People who suffer from persistent back pain often turn to complementary medicine when conventional treatments fail. A review of the effectiveness of several complementary treatments for chronic back pain found massage and spinal manipulation to be modestly effective, while the benefits of acupuncture were unclear.

This study reexamined the results of 49 randomized, controlled trials that evaluated massage, spinal manipulation, or acupuncture.

The trials that looked at massage found that it was an effective treatment for chronic back pain. The trials that evaluated spinal manipulation found “real, but modest” benefits that were similar in magnitude to other, more traditional treatments for chronic back pain. By contrast, although acupuncture appeared to be slightly more effective than no treatment or sham treatment, the quality of the studies was not high enough to draw firm conclusions.

The researchers concluded that all the complementary medicine therapies evaluated in the study are relatively safe, but massage therapy is the most cost-effective.

Annals of Internal Medicine
Volume 138, page 898
June 3, 2003


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Back Pain & Osteoporosis

The Back Pain and Osteoporosis White Paper from The Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Hopkins physicians.



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