Back pain is the most common condition remedial massage is utilised for treatment and relief. In fact, even simple home massages are mostly applied on the person’s back – and this is true whether there is pain being felt on the back or the person just wants to de-stress by feeling the caring hands of a loved one.

As mentioned in previous articles, remedial massage therapy brings about benefits which are both for short-term and (given that the treatments are done regularly) for the long-term. Short-term benefits include relief from a current discomfort and relaxation from stress. Some of the long term benefits are improved sleeping patterns, more toned and relaxed muscles for better flexibility, and enhanced release of endorphins – the hormones that encourage positive moods.


Remedial massage therapy can indeed offer relief to some occurrences of back pain, but here is a caveat to take in mind – do not make the mistake of treating remedial massage as a substitute for the appropriate medical attention that is deemed necessary for certain conditions. In normal situations, you can go directly for a session with a remedial massage therapist. Yet, it is always good to seek consultation and referral with your general practitioner or medical specialist prior to any therapy.

If your back pain is associated with a prevalent condition, then it does warrant a referral from a medical doctor. Some of these conditions are the following:

  • Fever
  • Hypertension or heart ailment
  • Cancer
  • Lesions or injury
  • Neurological disorder (such as epilepsy)
  • Skin disease

Note that this list enumerates only the obvious and most common conditions that cause back pain. In case of doubt, it is recommended that you consult with your general practitioner.

Remedial Massage Techniques for Back Pain Relief

Albeit there are various techniques remedial massage therapists employ for back pain relief, there are 3 popular ones that have been seen as the most effective. They are the medical massage, orthopaedic massage, and St. John’s technique.

Medical massage – is a style of remedial massage therapy that is primarily applied with a specific set of treatments specially customised for a particular target problem. The patient is presented with a diagnosis and the treatment is administered after a thorough assessment with a specific outcome in mind. Sometimes called as clinical massage, medical massage is the label given if the massage is prescribed by a physician with the corresponding diagnosis, assessment, recommended set of treatments, and expected outcome.

Orthopaedic massage – is often identified not as a single technique but as a comprehensive system. It is usually applied to help provide remedy to pain in relation to soft-tissue conditions. The aim is not solely on assessment, relief, and rehabilitation, but more so on the maintenance and prevention aspect.

St. John’s technique – otherwise called as Neuro-Muscular Therapy (NMT) or the St. John’s method is another hands-on modality with the aim of resolving soft tissue discomfort. It employs the principle of restoring homeostasis* between musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

The Next Time You Experience Back Pain

It will not do damage if you seek consultation with your general physician first before referring with a remedial massage therapist, especially if you are uncertain what causes your back pain. Besides, a competent remedial massage therapist will perform an assessment prior to any treatment, and included in that assessment are questionings about your medical history and the preceding story behind your pain. If in the assessment he/she deemed it necessary to tap the expertise of a medical doctor, then it would be unwise not to heed the advice.


* Homeostasis is the state of stable balance among the many physiological processes of the human body.


Hau, E. (4 March 2015) “Is Massage Therapy an Effective Back Pain Remedy?” Anti-Aging, Beauty, Personal Care: Ideas, Tips and Tricks for Adults. Retrieved from

“What is Medical Massage?” Medical Massage. Retrieved from

“Orthopedic massage.” Zeel. Retrieved from

“Neuromuscular Therapy (St. John Method).” Colorado Center for Physical Therapy. Retrieved from

Image By Courtesy photo from BACH staff member Teresa Ratliff ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons