April 7, 2014

262 Massage Therapy for Neck Pain [7 April 2014]

There have been few good scientific studies of massage therapy but that is changing. A recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine is a good example.

Karen Sherman at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle looked at the effectiveness of massage therapy for neck pain. A previous study had found that benefits of massage were evident after 4 weeks. This time Sherman wanted to determine the optimum length and frequency of massage treatments.

228 adults, age 20 to 64, were randomly assigned to six treatment groups: 30 minutes 2 or 3 times weekly, 60 minutes 1, 2 or 3 times weekly, and an untreated control group. Neck pain was assessed a week after the 4 week treatment period. The researchers determined that those getting one hour of massage three times a week experienced the greatest benefit. Compared to the control group, Sherman reported “people getting massage three times a week were almost five times as likely to have a clinically meaningful improvement in function and over twice as likely to report a clinically meaningful decrease in pain.”

The author cautioned about applying this study to other age groups – since the youngest person in the study group was 20 and the oldest 64, she couldn’t say if younger or older people would respond in the same way. And Sherman didn’t say anything about other types of soft tissue pain (back, arm, leg, foot, etc.) but in my experience massage is equally effective for treating these – it just wasn’t addressed in this study.

So what can we learn from this study? If you are suffering from neck pain, give massage therapy a try. There are 5 or 6 massage therapists in Rosetown (last count) ready and willing to help you. Get at least two hour-long treatments a week. And don’t quit too soon.

My neck is sore from typing this article – I think I need a massage!

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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