5 Ways a Spa Visit May Help Reduce Back Pain

SpaDo you only think of spas as places the rich and famous go for body treatments designed to make them look younger? Think that no more! Today, spas offer everyday people a wide variety of services, many of which can be very beneficial to the health of your spine. If you have never visited a spa, look for one in your area that offers the following:

The key to a healthy body is good circulation and massage is a great way to increase the flow of blood throughout the body. Massage has become a popular way to relieve muscle tension and spasm, inflammation, fluid retention, aches, stiffness, and pain. Other benefits include improved circulation, flexibility and greater range of motion, and tissue elasticity. Massage therapists use their hands or special tools to knead, rub, and stroke muscles. Sometimes lotion or oil is applied to the skin to reduce friction. If you have mild back pain or occasional stiffness, a massage may be just what you need.

The use of massage for the treatment of low back pain is popular and has a long history of use across a range of cultures. Massage is manipulation of soft tissue (i.e. muscles and fascia) using the hands or a mechanical device, to promote circulation and relaxation of muscle spasm or tension. (1) There are many styles of massage and massage may be provided as a stand-alone treatment or as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. (2) Despite a lack of methodologically sound trials, it has been accepted that this non-invasive therapy offers several potential benefits:

  • Massage therapy affords patients relief without overriding their desire to limit their of use drugs
  • Massage therapy is non-addictive compared to pharmaceuticals taken for pain
  • Massage therapy is low in cost compared to many prescription drugs
  • Massage therapy rarely has adverse effects (3)

A trial testing the effectiveness of massage for chronic low back pain (LBP) showed that massage significantly reduced pain and improved functioning compared to sham laser post-treatment and after one month. Massage combined with exercise and education was significantly better than sham laser on both pain and function. (1)

Acupuncture is the 5000-year-old Chinese art of healing that involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles into specific parts of the body called Meridian points. This therapy stimulates and activates the body's immune and healing systems. Acupuncture is used to treat many disorders, including chronic pain, headaches, back, neck, or muscle pain, stress, and arthritis. Be sure to find an acupuncturist who is certified and experienced.

A recent study published in 2005, reviewed 33 articles of acupuncture trials, and concluded that acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture and no additional treatment was required for providing short-term relief of chronic low back pain. This short-term relief seems to be sustained long-term; however, a sustained effect has not been established, as long-term follow up data is not yet available. More research is needed to evaluate acupuncture's effect on acute low back pain, and the evidence comparing acupuncture to other active treatments is inconclusive. At this time current estimates of acupuncture's effects on chronic low back pain are preliminary as several large studies are currently ongoing. However, anecdotal evidence supports acupuncture to be a viable adjunct to traditional medicine. (4)

To learn about Dr. DePalma's practice, click here.

Updated on: 10/18/16
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