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Posts Tagged ‘National Institutes of Health’

Massage Beats Meds for Lower Back Pain, Study Says

Posted by 4love2love on July 24, 2011

TUESDAY, July 5 — Massage therapy may be better than medication or exercise for easing low back pain in the short term, a new government-funded study suggests.

Seattle researchers recruited 401 patients, mostly middle-aged, female and white, all of whom had chronic low back pain.

Those who received a series of either relaxation massage or structural massage were better able to work and be active for up to a year than those getting “usual medical care,” which included painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or physical therapy, the researchers found.

Structural massage, which focuses on soft-tissue abnormalities, requires more training and may be more likely to be paid for by health insuranceplans, which may equate it with physical therapy, said Cherkin.Lead study author Daniel Cherkin, director of Group Health Research Institute, said he had expected structural massage, which manipulates specific pain-related back muscles and ligaments, would prove superior to relaxation or so-called Swedish massage, which aims to promote a feeling of body-wide relaxation.

“I thought structural massage would have been at least a little better, and that’s not the case,” Cherkin said. “If you’re having continuing problems with back pain even after trying usual medical care, massage may be a good thing to do. I think the results are pretty strong.”

The study, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is published in the July 5 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three groups: structural massage, relaxation massage or usual care. Those in the massage groups were given hour-long massage treatments weekly for 10 weeks.

At 10 weeks, more than one-third of those who received either type of massage said their back pain was much better or gone, compared to only one in 25 patients who received usual care, the study said. Those in the massage groups were also twice as likely in that period to have spent fewer days in bed, used less anti-inflammatory medication and engaged in more activity than the standard care group.

Six months out, both types of massage were still linked to improved function, Cherkin said, but after one year, pain and function was almost equal in all three groups.

Noting that most Americans will experience low back pain during their lifetime, Cherkin said another benefit of massage is its relative safety.

“Maybe one of 10 patients felt pain during or after massage, but most of those thought it was a ‘good pain,'” he said. “A good massage therapist will be in tune with the patient and will ask what hurts.”

One of the study’s weaknesses was that those who were assigned to usual care knew that others were receiving massage therapy and may have been disappointed to be excluded, tainting their reported improvement, said Dr. Robert Duarte, director of the Pain and Headache Treatment Center at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y.

“I think massage therapy can be useful for patients with back pain, but more as a . . . supplemental therapy,” Duarte added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on low back pain.

Posted in Health & Wellness Information | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Diabetes Self-Management – Lower-Carb Diet Reduces Dangerous Fat in Some

Posted by 4love2love on June 29, 2011

June 24, 2011

A slight reduction in carbohydrate intake may help decrease a person’s level of dangerous visceral fat, or deep abdominal fat, even if he has not lost any weight, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visceral fat, which surrounds abdominal organs, increases the risk of developing insulin resistance (a component of Type 2 diabetes), heart disease, and various other conditions.

Researchers recruited 69 overweight but healthy men and women. The participants were given food for two consecutive eight-week periods; the first period consisted of a weight-maintenance meal plan, and the second period consisted of a weight-loss meal plan that cut each person’s calories by 1,000 each day. The participants received either a standard lower-fat diet, comprised of 55% of calories from carbohydrate and 27% of calories from fat, or a slightly higher-fat diet that had a modest reduction in the carbohydrate content. This diet, which contained foods that were relatively low on the glycemic index (a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods based on how quickly they raise blood glucose levels), was comprised of 43% of calories from carbohydrate and 39% of calories from fat. In both diets, the final 18% of calories came from protein. At the beginning and end of each phase of the study, the participants had their visceral fat and total body fat measured using different types of medical scans.

When they analyzed the results, the researchers found that during the weight-loss phase of the study, participants on both of the diets lost weight, but those on the lower-carbohydrate diet averaged a 4% greater loss of total body fat. Moreover, during the weight-maintenance phase, people on the lower-carbohydrate diet were found to have 11% less visceral fat than people on the standard diet. After analyzing these results by race, the researchers determined that this result was exclusive to whites, who generally have more deep abdominal fat than blacks (even when matched for body weight or percent body fat).

According to lead study author Barbara Gower, PhD, decreasing the amount of visceral fat “could help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and coronary artery disease. For individuals willing to go on a weight-loss diet, a modest reduction in carbohydrate-containing foods may help them preferentially lose fat, rather than lean tissue. The moderately reduced carbohydrate diet allows a variety of foods to meet personal preferences.”

For more information, see the press release “Cut Down On ‘Carbs’ to Reduce Body Fat, Study Authors Say” from The Endocrine Society.

 

Blog entry re-post from Diane Fennell

Copyright © 2011 R.A. Rapaport Publishing, Inc.

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