Aim To review the effectiveness of Swedish and traditiol Thai massage in treating chronic low back pain. Background Thai and Swedish massage both appear to relieve lower back pain but their relative effectiveness has not been clearly established. Design and method A literature review of nine databases were searched and 13 papers found. Results Six papers meet the inclusion criteria and were summarised and reviewed. Both Thai and Swedish massages are reported to relieve chronic low back pain by enhancing physical functions; providing pain relief, improving disability and range of motion, improving psychological functions; reducing anxiety and improving mood. Although based on different theoretical frameworks, they appear to be equally effective in relieving chronic low back pain. Conclusion Despite some evidence for the use of massage to relieve low back pain, methodological limitations highlight the need for further studies that compare Thai massage and Swedish massage.
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