Testing feasibility of traditional Malay massage compared to relaxation for patients with non-specific low back pain: A pilot randomized-controlled trial

Nurhanisah Sejari, Siew Kuan Chua, Chin Fen Neoh, Kalavathy Ramasamy, Siong Meng Lim, Faizah Safina Bakrin, Kamaria Kamaruddin, Khang Wen Goh, Bey Hing Goh, Aman Shah Abdul Majid, Khairulanwar Husain, Long Chiau Ming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: This study was to test the feasibility of an approach that is intended to be used in a larger scale study to investigate the immediate effect of traditional Malay massage on substance P, inflammatory mediators, pain intensity and level of disability among patients with low back pain. Method: A pilot, non-blinded, randomized controlled trial was conducted with thirty patients who fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The participants were randomly allocated to intervention and control groups. Blood samples were collected before and after 5 min of intervention, and were analyzed for the level of substance P (i.e. primary outcome) and other inflammatory mediators as secondary outcomes. Self-reported measurements for pain intensity and functional outcome using Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) were determined. Result: A significant reduction in substance P level (1.45 ± 0.21 pg/mL versus 1.40 ± 0.15 pg/mL; p = 0.047) after application of traditional Malay massage was noted, but no significant change was reported for inter-group comparisons. The changes in other inflammatory markers were not significant for inter-group comparisons before and after application of traditional Malay massage and the relaxation position. However, the changes in both Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score (p <0.001) and RMDQ score (p = 0.021) were statistically significant for inter-group comparisons at both time points. Conclusions: The traditional Malay massage was reported to have an immediate effect on substance P but not on the inflammatory markers. This finding is well correlated with the changes in pain intensity (VAS score) and daily functional abilities (RMDQ score).

Original languageEnglish
Article number101217
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Integrative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Low back pain
  • Pilot randomized controlled trial
  • Substance P
  • Traditional Malay massage
  • Visual analogue scale

Cite this