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Ann Rehabil Med. 2012 Feb;36(1):55-65. doi: 10.5535/arm.2012.36.1.55. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

Development and application of a newly designed massage instrument for deep cross-friction massage in chronic non-specific low back pain.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Jesus Hospital, Jeonju 560-750, Korea.



To introduce a newly designed massage instrument, the Hand Grip T-bar (HT-bar) and use it to relieve chronic non-specific low back pain (nLBP) through deep cross-friction massage (roptrotherapy).


22 subjects (9 males and 13 females, aged 51.6±6.7) with chronic nLBP were allocated randomly to a Roptrotherapy group (n=12) and a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) group (n=10). The Roptrotherapy group received deep cross-friction massage with the HT-bar, which was made of metal and had a cylinder for increasing weight and grooves for an easy grip. It was applied across the middle and lower back for 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 2 weeks. The TENS group received TENS for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 2 weeks. The outcome was measured on the pain numeric rating scale (PNRS), by the Oswestry disability index (ODI), and by the Roland & Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) at pre-treatment, at immediate post-treatment and 2 weeks later. The application of the HT-bar was assessed by a questionnaire to 19 therapists.


At post-treatment, immediately and 2 weeks later, both groups showed significant improvement in PNRS, ODI and RMDQ. During the two weeks after post-treatment, however, the Roptrotherapy group improved in PNRS, ODI and RMDQ, but the TENS group did not. Over 80% of the therapists responded that the HT-bar was useful and comfortable.


This study suggests that deep cross-friction massage can be a beneficial therapeutic technique and that the HT-bar can be a useful instrument in deep cross-friction massage for chronic nLBP patients.


Instrumentation; Low back pain; Massage

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