In the one clinical trial that directly compared massage and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for back pain, massage gave the far superior results. If we compare the scientific evidence for each alone we find that:
- massage is very safe and supported by reasonable clinical trial results, whereas
- NSAIDS have performed poorly in clinical trials and have a horrendous record of causing serious side effects and death.
The evidence clearly shows massage to be way superior to NSAIDS for back pain.
In spite this medical guidelines recommend NSAIDs rather than massage. They say that this is because of cost, but the massage that produced the superior results in the direct comparison trial was self massage (something with no ongoing costs). In this article we will discuss this trial and the other evidence relating to the effectiveness and safety of massage and NSAIDS, then discuss your massage and self massage options.
The trial where massage and NSAIDS were directly compared
Summary of clinical trial results and safety for massage
Summary of clinical trial results and safety for NSAIDS
Your self massage options
Appendix: How clinical trials can mislead