Why Do Mobilisations Relieve Back Pain?

The exact mechanism of why we feel better after treatment can be difficult to explain.

When we go and get a massage or treatment for an injury we generally leave feeling better for the experience. Yes we are more relaxed or we are less tense, or our pain has decreased, but from a physiological level why does this happen?

Theories include local responses in the tissue, central responses in the brain, a response in the spinal cord  between the tissue and the brain or combination of responses. While we feel better after visiting our local therapists, it is very hard to measure the effect in the body from a scientific standpoint. Yes you feel less pain, can move more, and more confident in your body performance after treatment, but how do you measure how and why these components are improved based on the techniques your practitioner uses?

Studies have shown that the hands-on techniques therapists use have a direct effect in concentration of some pain chemicals both at the injury site and in the brain, decreasing those which are responsible for enhancing pain, and increasing those which can reduce pain – such as endorphins, serotonin and other pleasure chemicals.

Also at play is the psychological impact a visit to a health practitioner can have. We are often more reassured about our injuries after visiting a health practitioner which decreases the emotional component, or the brains effect of worrying about an ailment. Will this sore back be something I need to worry about long term?

Researchers are currently investigating the diverse reasons why we feel better with mobilisations, manipulations, stretches or massage and believe it is it is a combination of what we feel at the site of the injury, and how the brain responds to this, but as technology improves, so too will our ability to investigate the role each individual part of our body system plays in helping us feel better.

Watch this space.

Campbell Hooker

About Campbell Hooker

Campbell Graduated from AUT University and has worked in private practice in both Australia and in London. Campbell has a keen interest in sporting injuries, office based injuries and the neck. He has worked at grassroots and elite levels of rugby union and league, and with surf lifesaving. He has recently taken to triathlon where he spends most of his spare time. Campbell has an interest in neurological conditions and has a Neuroanatomy degree out of Otago University. He utilises a number of methods when both analysing and treating patients, including dry needling and the Sarah Key Method.

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