BACKGROUND: The treatment of low back pain is very challenging due to the recurrent nature of the problem. It is believed that traditional Malay massage helps to relieve such back pain but there is a lack of scientific evidence to support both the practice of traditional Malay massage and the mechanism by which it exerts its effect. The aim of this study is to investigate the immediate effect of traditional Malay massage on the pain scale, substance P, inflammatory mediators, and functional outcomes among low back pain patients.
METHODS: A non-blinded, randomised controlled trial will be conducted. A total of sixty-six patients who fulfil the inclusion criteria will be recruited. The participants will be randomly allocated into intervention (traditional Malay massage) and control (relaxation position) groups. Blood and saliva samples will be collected before and immediately after intervention. All collected samples will be analysed. The primary outcomes are the changes in the level of substance P in both saliva and blood samples between both groups. The secondary outcomes include the levels of inflammatory mediators [i.e. TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-8, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, IL-6 and IL-10, and the soluble form of the intercellular adhesion molecule], the pain intensity as measured by a visual analogous scale and functional outcomes using the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire.
DISCUSSION: Massage is a type of physical therapy that has been proven to be potentially capable of reducing unpleasant pain sensations by a complex sensory response and chemical mediators such as substance P and various inflammatory mediators. Previous studies conducted using Thai, Swedish, or other forms of massage therapies, have showed inconsistent findings on substance P levels pre and post the interventions. Each massage genre varies in terms of massage and joint mobilization points, as well as the lumbar spinous process. Traditional Malay massage, known locally as "Urut Melayu", involves soft-tissue manipulation of the whole body applied using the hands and fingers. This massage technique combines both deep muscular tissue massage and spiritual rituals. This trial is expected to give rise to new knowledge underlying the mechanisms for pain and inflammation relief that are activated by traditional Malay massage.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials ACTRN12615000537550 .
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.