For 10 weeks, 400 patients (all of whom had suffered low back pain for at least three months) were assigned to one of three treatments: structural massage, relaxation massage, or usual care. Members of the massage groups received an hour-long massage once a week, while members of the usual care group mostly relied on medications to ease their pain.
At the end of the treatment period, more than one in three massage-receiving patients said their back pain was completely resolved or had greatly improved. On the other hand, only one in 25 patients assigned to usual care experienced a similar degree of pain relief. What's more, nearly twice as many members of the massage groups showed significant improvements in functioning by the end of the study.