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Massage therapy can help to decrease pain and muscle aches, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote overall wellness and relaxation.

I have lower back pain. do I do a massage or go to a chiropractor?

David Sipes (Scottsdale, AZ) on Sep 5, 2012
It really depends, not to be vague. If your problem appears to be a dull ache, or a spasm, then perhaps a massage would work best. If you pain is somewhat sharp, especially with certain movements, then it's more likely a "pinched nerve", and a chiropractic adjustment might work better in that instance.
Lorissa Talavera (Moreno Valley, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
It really depends on if the issue is skeletal or muscular/neurological. In MOST cases if this issue is acute ( a sudden onset) back pain then more than likely it is muscular, however I would recommend both. Both treatments work together in ensuring that you're in alignment and that whatever muscular issue you may have is addressed. Doing both will ensure 100% success just to be sure.
Andrea Schnowske (Peoria, IL) on Sep 5, 2012
Low back pain can be caused from a number of different factors including misalignment of the spine or pelvis, strain or inflammation of ligaments within the spine, or sprain of muscles that attach and support the spine. In my office, I typically see a combination of all three since your muscle and ligaments attach to bone and thus each effects the other. I recommend visiting a chiropractor first for a comprehensive evaluation to determine the true cause of your low back pain. Many chiropractors (depending on the state) are licensed to perform rehabilitation and they may have massage therapists on staff. So your treatment for low back pain may include both chiropractic and massage depending on the nature of the condition. I hope this answers your question.
Randi Watson (Payson, UT) on Sep 5, 2012
A combination of both would probably be best for you. I would probably start with a chiropractor first so he can verify your condition. But a good therapeutic massage will always feel very nice.
Sean Lotterer (Cartersville, GA) on Sep 5, 2012
While massage therapy feels good and is highly beneficial, it is best to see a licensed chiropractor first to determine if your pain is due to spinal misalignment. Incorrect positioning of the vertebra can cause irritation of the nerves, swelling , inflammation and muscle spasm. Chronic pain can be due to degenerative changes in the spine that are the result of long term spinal dysfunction. Chiropractors restore function to those areas, correcting the cause of the problem. Ongoing chiropractic care and massage can be a wonderful and effective addition to your wellness lifestyle.
Yaphet Hill (Houston, TX) on Sep 5, 2012
It depends on the origin of the pain. Massage is a great way to get rid of pain, but if your pain is due to an injury, the chiropractor can utilize a spinal manipulation along with a number of other modalities, such as ultrasound, low level laser, and electric muscle stimulation, to help increase the speed of recovery. Since most back pain occurs when people move, therapy that increases range of motion may be more effective in getting rid of the lower back pain.
Arthur Reid (Brandon, FL) on Sep 5, 2012
When clinically indicated, we recommend massage in combination with your chiropractic care. While chiropractic focuses on the relationship between the spine and its impact on the nervous system, massage focuses on the 650 muscles of the body. Both disciplines work together to help keep the body in proper alignment, balance and function. Long-standing spinal problems are accompanied by ingrained muscle patterns. Muscle spasms and scar tissue are often involved. By augmenting your chiropractic care with massage therapy, these muscle and soft tissue problems can be addressed. This can help speed your recovery and enhance the retraining of your spine.
Paul Hodgson (Carlsbad, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
For low back pain, chiropractic is king. While lower back pain can range from mild to debilitating, and has many potential causes, several studies comparing chiropractic to drugs, surgery, and exercise and stretching programs all found chiropractic to be among the most effective treatment available. The studies also found that only chiropractic had lasting effects beyond the initial treatment. My suggestion is to try massage and chiropractic together. Massage will loosen up the muscles and give you immediate relief, but if the bones are not moving and out of alignment, ultimately it will return to its original position with the original symptoms.
Betty Shields (Sioux Falls, SD) on Sep 5, 2012
Many chiropractors have found that treatments are more effective after massages because the muscles are relaxed. It is a great idea to do both.
Felix Williams (Fort Lauderdale, FL) on Sep 5, 2012
You should do both. Chiropractors are bone and ligament experts and massage therapists are soft tissue experts. So try massage first, even if you don't have a soft tissue issue. In order for the chiropractor to be able to adjust you properly, you need the surrounding soft tissue to be loosened.
Teena A Masters (West Mifflin, PA) on Sep 5, 2012
There are many factors that can influence the answer to this question, but in a typical case of general low back pain due to muscle tension and/or mild strain or overuse, I would suggest getting a massage first and see if this alleviates your pain. If it improves significantly after one massage, then several may be needed to restore your low back to complete pain-free functionality. If a massage does little or nothing, then you should certainly see a chiropractor to be sure your problem isn't coming from a spinal misalignment issue. The IDEAL approach is to see both a chiropractor and massage therapist for a complete, integrative solution that is extremely effective. Teena A. Masters, LMT, LST, NC Hands of Life Massage Therapy
Stephanie Grenadier (Hingham, MA) on Sep 5, 2012
I tend to favor both. If your spine is out of alignment, massage won't necessarily get it in place. (In fact, massage therapists are not allowed to do chiropractic adjustments.) However, if the muscles are tense and "splinting" to support your spine, the chiropractic treatment may not last unless you get the muscles to relax. As a massage therapist, I believe that a great deal can be done to alleviate lower back pain thorough massage when the issue is strictly muscular but I do also recommend chiropractic care to keep your spine in line. Chiropractic care is covered by most insurance plans so if you can spring for the massage (which really could be only 30 minutes focusing on your back) I myself favor both.
Kei Niebur (College Station, TX) on Sep 5, 2012
Both, actually. Lower back pain is best treated by having a massage therapist loosen the muscles of your back that are pulling on your spine, causing pain and dysfunction. After your back is relaxed, see how you feel. If you still feel discomfort or pain, go see a chiropractor to realign your back. If you only see the chiropractor, your muscles will continue to pull on your spine, and can pull it right back out of place. Many chiropractic offices have massage therapists who work in their office for exactly this reason. You might also consider trying yoga for long-term relief and prevention.
Ellen A. Scurich (Fort Lauderdale, FL) on Sep 5, 2012
Both, probably. Do the massage first, as the chiropractic adjustment will last longer when performed on relaxed muscles.
Telli Counts (Columbia, SC) on Sep 5, 2012
It all depends. You may want to start with a massage therapist or a chiropractor. It is your choice. I believe all professionals should work together for the good of the patient. In my office, a massage therapist and I work together to get you well. Sometimes we will recommend that you see the other practitioner. We just want to get you well and stay well.
Roger Bailey (Gatlinburg, TN) on Sep 5, 2012
Try a therapeutic massage therapist first.
Ricky Fishman (San Francisco, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
If the low back pain is a specific response to an activity such as doing a few hours of gardening, a massage from a skilled massage therapist is generally fine. If, however, the pain has come on suddenly for no clear reason, a visit to a chiropractor would be the recommended approach. The chiropractor will be able to diagnose the cause and recommend appropriate care (which might include massage therapy). Also note that if the back pain is accompanied by leg pain, do not see a massage therapist. Head straight to the chiropractor!
Sara Proffer (Marquette, MI) on Sep 5, 2012
Massage will help to relive muscle tension and will also help make chiropractic adjustment more effective.
Dominic Quin-Harkin (San Rafael, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
I would never give an ultimate recommendation until I could see your spine, palpate your muscles, and see your framework, gait, and posture. Overall, if your muscles are not too tight and stringy, chiropractic work is beneficial if it is combined with massage. (I only go to chiropractors who use heat, stretching, and massage before they make their adjustments.) For lower back pain especially, go to a massage therapist that will treat your back in a 3D treatment. Make sure they do not overlook the psoas muscle, which attaches to the front of the spine and, when tight, can throw the back out.
David Francis Fair (Knoxville, TN) on Sep 5, 2012
Of course a chiropractor is going to say that you should see a chiropractor, so allow me to tell you why. Chiropractors are highly trained and skilled at locating and correcting what we refer to as a "subluxation". A subluxation refers to a misalignment of one bone (vertebra) in relation to the bone above and the bone below These three bones are called a motor unit. These misalignments can create muscle tension, spasm, edema (swelling), taut and tender fibers and pain. But they don't always create pain; therefore, you can have them and not know it and think your problem is only muscle tension. A good massage therapist may soothe the body so that muscle spasm and tension will be reduced; however it is not likely that the subluxation will be corrected. Studies have shown that uncorrected subluxations result in what is known as a Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC) which is a much more far reaching negative health condition. If a chiropractor finds you have nothing more than tense muscles and are subluxation free (and yes, I have found or brought people to this point), then you should be referred to a massage therapist. I have a working relationship with a highly skilled and educated massage therapist who routinely refers individuals when he recognizes his work is not resolving the problem. Prolonged, uncorrected issues, or the presence of a Vertebral Subluxation Complex, will often require frequent, multiple visits at the beginning of care, but this usually diminishes within a two or three month period and a person should be able to require less care after the initial treatment plan. Of course, each individual treatment plan will be based on the history, consultation, findings, examination, X-Rays (if performed), how long the problem has existed, contributing factors, etc. After the completion of a treatment plan to address my patient's complaints, my goal is to get my patients down to one time per month or less, depending on their lifestyle, activity level, age, diet, etc.
Betty Humphrey (Harrisonburg, VA) on Sep 5, 2012
Lower back pain is not always of a muscular origin. Sometimes the resulting pain is actually caused by subluxation (misalignment) in the spinal bones which create irritation and pressure in the nerves that control these muscles. This causes the muscles to shorten and become rigid and painful. While massage therapy goes a very long way in helping to speed soft tissue recovery I would still recommend a visit to a chiropractor just to be sure that if you do have a subluxation it can be corrected before it begins to cause deterioration in the disk. I have worked in the chiropractic field for nearly seven years now and I have seen patients recover from severe pain and even herniated/bulging disks with the help of combined chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy. These individuals have avoided risky surgical procedures and have gone on to enjoy pain-free living. Most chiropractic offices feature massage therapy as part of their programs and insurance may likely cover some of your expense. Good luck & I wish you the best of health!
Betty Humphrey (Harrisonburg, VA) on Sep 5, 2012
Lower back pain is not always of a muscular origin. Sometimes the resulting pain is actually caused by subluxation (misalignment) in the spinal bones which create irritation and pressure in the nerves that control these muscles. This causes the muscles to shorten and become rigid and painful. While massage therapy goes a very long way in helping to speed soft tissue recovery I would still recommend a visit to a chiropractor just to be sure that if you do have a subluxation it can be corrected before it begins to cause deterioration in the disk. I have worked in the chiropractic field for nearly seven years now and I have seen patients recover from severe pain and even herniated/bulging disks with the help of combined chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy. These individuals have avoided risky surgical procedures and have gone on to enjoy pain-free living. Most chiropractic offices feature massage therapy as part of their programs and insurance may likely cover some of your expense. Good luck & I wish you the best of health!
Erica Pennington (Baltimore, MD) on Sep 5, 2012
I honestly would recommend doing both. First going to the chiropractor to make sure there isn't anything wrong with the bones and to be adjusted, then to a massage therapist to help with the muscular aspect. The two really do work hand in hand together. Cant fix one and forget the other
Charity Whiting (Tucson, AZ) on Sep 5, 2012
Both! Preferably, you should see your chiropractor first and follow the adjustment with a massage. This will encourage the muscles to support the new spinal and postural alignment.
Jerome Jefferson (Saint Petersburg, FL) on Sep 5, 2012
It depends if it is muscle pain or bone pain. Massage mainly deals with pain caused by stress or tension in the muscles. Chiropractors focus on bone alignment. My best advice would be to see your personal doctor, get a x-ray, and make sure nothing is wrong with the bone structure in your back. If the bone structure is fine, go and take care of the pain with a great massage.
Kristy Wiggins (Algonquin, IL) on Sep 5, 2012
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) low back pain is one of the most common health complaints in the US. Moreover, it can be one of the most debilitating medical complaint as well. As for who you seek out to assist you with your pain, that really depends on your needs. A chiropractor will definitely assist you with structural issues, such as mechanical adjustments that can provide relief if there is a pinched nerve or misalignment. A massage therapist will provide soft tissue relief, working on muscles. As a massage practitioner, I can tell you that massage will increase circulation, release endorphins, release and relax the muscles that are tight around your hips, hamstrings (back of thigh muscles), and glutes (your bum) which will definitely assist in easing the pain. Many suffers of low back pain will see a chiro for structural (skeletal) problems, and will utilize a massage practitioner as an adjunct to the care they are receiving from their chiropractor. Hope that helps!
Chris Bell (Dallas, TX) on Sep 5, 2012
Receiving a low back pain treatment during massage therapy, once or twice a week, for at least 3 weeks would be a great first step if the muscle pain is from bad posture, stress, or prolonged sitting etc., if pain still exists could be an disc, nerve or ligament issue you may need to contact a chiropractor or an orthopedist
Mario Messina-Azekri (Portland, OR) on Sep 5, 2012
You may need both. The pain is in your back could be due to soft tissue as well as bones not been aligned properly.
Eli Cummings (Conroe, TX) on Sep 5, 2012
Most people do massage therapy and chiropractic together for treatment of most spinal conditions. They both work! Most chiropractors can tell you if the muscles are hypertonic (tight) due to subluxations (bone mis-alignments) or are painful due to stress or overwork.
Bradley Rose (Baton Rouge, LA) on Sep 5, 2012
Because back pain could be a result of a lot of different things, you should see your physician first to have a clear understanding of why your back is hurting. Neither a massage therapist nor a chiropractor (or any other profession other than a medical doctor) can diagnose anything. To be sure you don't further injure yourself, you should start with your physician.
Andrew Hix (Gainesville, FL) on Sep 5, 2012
Both massage therapy and chiropractic care address the symptom of lower back pain. Consider combining both treatments for increased efficacy.
Deborah Gilmore (Golden, CO) on Sep 5, 2012
Massage all the way!
Esther Pagan (New York, NY) on Sep 5, 2012
Actually, you can do both. Massage will allow your muscles and joints to warm up for a chiropractor to adjust the joints and spinal column. This is why many chiropractors are collaborating with massage therapists at their place of business.
Raquel Nugent (, ) on Sep 5, 2012
Both modalities are excellent ways of reducing low back pain.
Raquel Nugent (, ) on Sep 5, 2012
Both modalities are excellent ways of reducing low back pain.
Shannon Arnaud (Baton Rouge, LA) on Sep 5, 2012
Both are beneficial. A massage targets the muscles that are in need of the blood to flow which is causing the actual soreness. How long have you had lower back pain? What caused your muscles to become inflamed?
Nara Han (Hollywood, FL) on Sep 5, 2012
Go to a chiropractor first. They are doctors and they can diagnose you. Massage therapists are not doctors. If the chiropractor recommends that you get a massage, yes, do it Usually, chiropractors work with licensed massage therapists.
Richard Bartlett (Lansing, MI) on Sep 5, 2012
Most lower back pain is due to soft tissue (muscle, fascia, etc.) rather than spinal misalignment. There are sensitive muscles in the deeper layers of the lower back (such as quadratus lumborum) that are commonly the problem, and are often injured while bending, twisting or moving laterally using the lower back. The injury is often preceded by chronic tension in these muscles. If you think you may have had a spinal injury, you should see a neurologist first, to see if chiropractic is safe and likely to be effective. Otherwise, massage is usually the most effective treatment for low back pain. If you do receive regular chiropractic treatments, you may find that they will "keep" longer between adjustments if you also receive regular massage to the muscles supporting the spine. I hope this helps you, and good luck finding relief!
Leslie Ferguson (Atlanta, GA) on Sep 5, 2012
This would all depend on what is causing the back pain. Getting a massage on your lower back and other areas that refer pain into that area would be a good place to start. If you think the pain is caused by a more severe issue that must be treated, it is in your best interest to have structural issues addressed by a chiropractor.
Efren Jimenez (Burbank, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
I have several clients who suffered from chronic lower back pain. When they came to me for the first time, Iwas able to assess their particular situation by palpating the area using Swedish massage. An exploratory massage session will actually help determine if the client is in need of chiropractic adjustment to realign the skeletal structure or if the client is in need of a more specific massage modality, such as trigger point therapy. Without this assessment and without a proper alignment, the lower back pain will persist, regardless of how many massage sessions the client books to get rid of the pain.
Michael Genovese (Mesa, AZ) on Sep 5, 2012
Both would benefit you. Low back pain is commonly attributed to tight muscles in the legs. Because of the attachment sites of the muscles at the pelvis, the tight muscles can cause your pelvis to tip anterior or posterior, causing low back pain.
Chandra Stead (Cincinnati, OH) on Sep 5, 2012
That depends on the source of your pain and if you have been evaluated by a doctor. If it just minor pain or an older chronic problem your best bet is to get a massage and then go to the chiroprator for an adjustment. Tight muscles make it harder for you to get a good adjustment and tend to pull things back out of place. That's why the massage first is a good idea.
Leah Nelson (Salt Lake City, UT) on Sep 5, 2012
Either one can help, but if you are experiencing chronic low back pain (even if it's intermittent), find a skilled massage therapist who'll work with you on posture. They'd most likely use some myofascial or structural integration techniques. Just make sure you find a skilled therapist or chiropractor. That will make a world of difference in terms of long term back pain relief. Good luck in your search!
Barry Cooper (St. Petersburg, FL) on Sep 5, 2012
You can do both, depending on your issue. I would see a massage practitioner first. It is less expensive and you can always opt for chiropractic care as needed.
Joshua Chase Smith (Gurnee, IL) on Sep 5, 2012
I would recommend both chiropractic and massage therapy. They are highly complementary. Some people need a massage before an adjustment, while others like to relax after their adjustment.
Joseph McCoy (Muenster, TX) on Oct 15, 2012
Chiropractic medicine is a good therapy, but your ligaments can get dependent on the adjustments. Sometimes we have to address the soft tissues, like muscles, tendons, and fascia, while also incorporating ligamentous work. 90% of pain originates in soft tissue. If you can, the best way is to do both, but I would get massage before chiropractic. We can align the osseous structures with certain orthopedic techniques and deep myoskeletal work. However, if a joint is too fixated and will not move, then we refer the client to a good chiropractor or doctor of osteopathy.
Andrea Santoro (Forest Hills, NY) on Sep 5, 2012
I would try a massage first. It will probably be cheaper than an initial chiropractic appointment, and more enjoyable too! While I'm a huge advocate for chiropractic care, I do believe that massage can have great results, depending on the patient and condition. Both therapies would be ideal, but massage might be more readily available.
Mark Carlson (Costa Mesa, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
Over 90% of all lower back pain is caused by having tight piriformis muscles. Deep tissue and shiatsu massage fixes this problem.
Brenda Breedlove (San Francisco, CA) on Sep 5, 2012
From my experience, it depends on the type of pain and how long you have been experiencing the pain. Myofascial massage and chiropractics are good complementary treatments. I generally send my clients to a chiropractor if we cannot alleviate or lessen their pain, just to rule out any structural dysfunction.
Luis Rivera (Marietta, IL) on Oct 30, 2012
Often a mix of both will help with back pain. Massage Therapist focus on the manipulation of the soft tissue around the spine, while chiropractors work on manipulating the spine directly. There are many chiropractors that do both. Seek it out and I know you will find the best fit for you. Thank you.
Lawson Sealey (Newport Beach, CA) on Oct 2, 2012
Spinal adjustments are the best method to restore joint mobility, reduce pain and inflammation, regain muscle balance, promote lymphatic drainage, and speed up nerve conduction. Massage therapy will assist primarily in relaxing and lengthening the muscles. Both are very effective when used in conjunction of one another but chiropractic adjustments alone will reduce the pain much quicker, more efficienty, and will provide greater long lasting relief.
Katherine Turner (Schertz, TX) on Sep 28, 2012
you can do both. i have had people come to me for pre appointment to help loosen the muscles before the actual appointment and have had clients come after their appointment to relieve the uncomfortness the chiropractor has put them in. so all in all its up to you and what you want to try.