According to recent research, massage for ankylosing spondylitis improved outcomes and offered more significant benefits in terms of specific symptoms.

Both deep tissue and therapeutic massage improved outcomes among men with ankylosing spondylitis (AS), although deep tissue massage offered more significant benefits in terms of specific symptoms and general lower back pain, according to recent research.

The study, “Comparison of deep tissue massage and therapeutic massage for lower back pain, disease activity and functional capacity of ankylosing spondylitis patients: a randomized clinical pilot study,” involved 27 men diagnosed with AS.

The researchers describe AS as a “chronic, progressive inflammatory rheumatic disease that predominantly affects the sacroiliac joints and spine” and state that the main goals of therapy for this condition are to “reduce pain, prevent spinal deformation, and improve mobility and overall function.”

Subjects in the study were randomly assigned to receive either 10 half-hour sessions of deep tissue massage or 10 half-hour sessions of therapeutic massage within a two-week period.

The deep tissue massage for ankylosing spondylitis consisted of trigger point therapy and “oblique pressure for a combination of lengthening strokes, cross-fiber strokes, anchor and stretch, and freeing muscle from entrapment.”

For the therapeutic massage sessions, the following five techniques were employed: effleurage, petrissage, friction, holding and vibration.

The massage focused on the region of the back from the sacrum to the occipital bone, and the goal was to ease pain in the lower back through relaxation.

The main outcome measures in this study were the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index and the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index.

Secondary outcome measures were the Modified Schober Test, distance between fingertips and floor, chest expansion, and level of pain in the lower back.

Results of the research revealed improvements in the above outcome measures among subjects in both the deep tissue massage group and the therapeutic massage group.

However, mean improvement on the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index was significantly greater among the men in the deep tissue massage group, as was the reduction in lower back pain.

“Our study suggests that the use of deep tissue massage and therapeutic massage might have therapeutic results and that supplementing the comprehensive rehabilitation of an AS patient could be considered for use,” the study’s authors conclude.

Authors: Mateusz Wojciech Romanowski, Maja Spiritovic, Radoslaw Rutkowski, Adrian Dudek, Wlodzimierz Samborski and Anna Strabuzynska-Lupa.

Sources: Department of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Department of Physical Therapy and Sports Recovery, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland; Rheumatological Centre, Srem, Poland; and Institute of Rheumatology and Clinic of Rheumatology, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. Originally published online in August 2017 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.