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Clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness of massage chair therapy versus basic physiotherapy in lower back pain patients: A randomized controlled trial

 Seung-Kook Kim  ;  Aran Min  ;  Chuljin Jeon  ;  Taeyun Kim  ;  Soohyun Cho  ;  Su-Chan Lee  ;  Choon-Key Lee 
 MEDICINE, Vol.99(12) : e19514, 2020-03 
Journal Title
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Adult ; Cost-Benefit Analysis ; Female ; Humans ; Low Back Pain / epidemiology ; Low Back Pain / psychology* ; Low Back Pain / therapy* ; Male ; Massage / instrumentation ; Massage / methods* ; Middle Aged ; Pain Management / economics* ; Pain Management / instrumentation ; Pain Measurement ; Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data ; Physical Therapy Modalities / economics* ; Physical Therapy Modalities / instrumentation ; Prospective Studies ; Quality of Life ; Visual Analog Scale
low back pain ; massage chair ; massage therapy ; mechanical chair ; physical therapy ; physiotherapy
Introduction: Low back pain is a chronic recurrent symptom, which can lower the patient's quality of life. With technological development of automated home massage systems, now offers a promising alternative to physiotherapy. However, thus far, the effectiveness of such methods has not been evaluated. We aimed to compare the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a massage chair with those of conventional physiotherapy for the treatment. Methods: This was a randomized controlled trial with a two-group parallel design. Following randomization and allocation, 56 participants were enrolled to receive either physiotherapy (n = 25) or mechanical massage using the massage chair (n = 31). Pain severity was measured using a visual analog scale (VAS) and satisfaction assessed with the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ). Quality of life modification was analyzed using the Functional Rating Index (FRI). Cost-effectiveness was analyzed by comparing the sum of physiotherapy fees and monthly rental fees for chair massage. Results: Physiotherapy and massage chair were both effective for pain control as assessed with the VAS (P < .001), satisfaction as assessed by MPQ (P < .001) and life quality improvement as assessed by FRI (P < .001) in both groups. Both VAS and FRI scores were significantly higher for physiotherapy than for massage chair (P = .03 and P = .03, respectively). There was no significant difference in MPQ between the two groups. Massage chair therapy was more cost-effective than physiotherapy, at only 60.17% of the physiotherapy cost (P < .001). Conclusions: The home massage chair system was cost-effective, but pain control and disability improved more with physiotherapy. However, our results showed that the massage chair is a promising treatment for pain control and quality of life modification, but efficacy is still superior in physiotherapy and the chair is not a replacement for physiotherapy.
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