NPR (National Public Radio) recently ran a story, "Got Low Back Pain? Massage Therapy May Rub It Out." The story points out that after colds, low back pain is one of the most common complaints seen by doctors. It causes lost time at work and brings misery into many people's lives. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that therapeutic massage may be more effective than conventional treatment for low back pain.
A more detailed analysis of the study written in laymen's terms is available at Pain-Topics.org. Of note is that both Swedish massage and structural massage were both effective, with very little difference between them.
Subjects in the study were either assigned conventional treatment - medications and exercise - or massage therapy. At 10 weeks, 1/3 of the subjects who got massage therapy said their pain was decreased or gone while ony 1 in 25 of the subjects who had conventional treatment reported relief. Improvement in the massage therapy group persisted for 26 weeks, though after one year there was no difference between the groups.
Low back pain is very common and often difficult to treat. This study suggests that massage therapy may be a valuable therapy for persons suffering from low back pain.