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J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2012 Oct;16(4):424-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 Jun 23.

Ottawa Panel evidence-based clinical practice guidelines on therapeutic massage for low back pain.

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Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



To update evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (EBCPG) on massage therapy compared to control or other treatment for adults (>18 years) suffering from acute, sub-acute and chronic low back pain (LBP).


A literature search was performed for relevant articles between January 1, 1948 and December 31, 2010. Eligibility criteria were then applied focussing on participants, interventions, controls, and outcomes, as well as methodological quality. Recommendations based on this evidence were then assigned a grade (A, B, C, C+, D, D+, D-) based on their strength.


A total of 100 recommendations were formulated from 11 eligible articles, including 37 positive recommendations (25 grade A and 12 grade C+) and 63 neutral recommendations (49 grade C, 12 grade D, and 2 grade D+).


These guidelines indicate that massage therapy is effective at providing pain relief and improving functional status.


The Ottawa Panel was able to demonstrate that massage interventions are effective to provide short term improvement of sub-acute and chronic LBP symptoms and decreasing disability at immediate post treatment and short term relief when massage therapy is combined with therapeutic exercise and education.

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