Back pain: watching increases the effectiveness of therapies like a massage

Back pain: watching increases the effectiveness of therapies like a massage

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Back pain improves by looking at a real-time image of the back

Back pain has now become a real widespread disease and can become a great burden for those affected. Various options are available for treatment, such as physical activities, physiotherapy or medication. Massages can also help - especially if those affected can watch them.

Chronic back pain improves when those affected watch a real-time recording of their back for a short time. Watching also increases the effectiveness of therapies such as a massage. This has been shown by studies by researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB).

Severe impairments due to back pain

According to experts, approximately 80 percent of adults experience back pain once or repeatedly throughout their lives. Most of the symptoms resolve within a few weeks. But they can also return or become chronic, i.e. they can last longer than six months.

Then, in the long run, pain puts a strain on life, determines everyday life, prevents patients from working or participating in social activities.

"Those affected know their pain well," says Prof. Dr. Martin Diers from the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the LWL University Hospital of the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) in a message.

“For example, you can say exactly when the pain occurred during the day or how it felt. But what is difficult for them to narrow down is the exact location of the pain. ”According to the information, some pain patients even leave a gap at the corresponding point when drawing their body outline.

Pain intensity was reduced

Diers and his team wanted to know how the pain changes when people look at it. “We don't know exactly what our back looks like because we can't see it directly,” explains the scientist.

He devoted several studies to this problem, both with pain patients and with control subjects without back pain. A video camera was used in each case, which was placed behind the participants and was able to transmit the image of their back in real time to a monitor in front of which the people sat or who they could see lying down.

The severity of the pain is measured by the subjects themselves assessing it on a scale from zero to ten.

"We were able to show that just watching the real-time video of your back after one minute reduces the intensity of the pain in patients with chronic back pain," explains Diers. If the patients saw another person's or a still picture or a book instead of their own video, the intensity of the pain did not change.

The resolution of visual information is greater

In a further investigation, the researchers gave the participants a painful stimulus on the back, for example an electrical stimulus or a strong pressure stimulus. Sometimes people could see their backs on the monitor, sometimes not.

"When they saw their back during the pain stimulus, they indicated a lower pain intensity than when they looked at their hand while the stimulus on the back was exactly the same," said Diers.

"Pain stimuli are registered by certain nerve cells in the skin, passed on to the brain and processed there," explains the psychologist. "This system has only a fairly rough resolution."

Together with the visual information, the stimuli are perceived in a much higher resolution. This helps to narrow the painful area: we can therefore place the source of the pain in a much more specific way.

Multi-sensory integration in the treatment of pain

That is why the pain specialists rely on the so-called multisensory integration in the perception of sensory stimuli, in which several input channels for stimuli are involved.

They examined the effectiveness of various therapies on chronic pain with and without the possibility of seeing the treated area of ​​the body.

During a massage of the painful body region, they either showed the patient the real-time video of the treatment or recordings of a massage with another person, a still image of their own back or a book, or asked them to keep their eyes closed.

“We were able to show that the massage was significantly more effective when the patients could watch it,” summarizes Martin Diers. "The same was true for manual therapy, a physiotherapy treatment that involves mobilization, among other things."

Diers therefore advocates integrating such multisensory processes into therapy. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB): Psychosomatics: What we see influences what we feel (accessed: February 25, 2020), Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB)

Video: Advanced soft tissue massage techniques for the Lumbar Spine (September 2022).


  1. Bssil

    .. rarely .. This exception can be said: i) of the rules

  2. Erymanthus

    I think you will come to the right decision.

  3. Roy

    laugh nimaga !!

  4. Brone

    In my opinion it is obvious. I would not wish to develop this theme.

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