Massage therapy is being embraced by the medical community. This is because it is a non-pharmacological intervention that is simple to carry out, economical, and has very few side effects.
The Complex Clinical Picture of Neck Pain
Massage therapists are skilled in managing neck pain through a number of rehabilitation considerations including, but are not limited to:
• Manual Therapy (nerve mobilization, soft tissue massage, triggerpoint, IASTM)
• Education on Psychosocial Factors Such as Fear Avoidance
• Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Assessing Neck Pain
Proper assessment help identify who is most likely to benefit from conservative treatments. Recent clinical guidelines published in the JOSPT suggest that patients with neck pain fall into 1 of 4 groups (Blandpied et al. 2017):
• neck pain with limited motion
• neck pain associated with whiplash
• headaches related to neck pain
• neck and nerve-related pain into the arm (also known as radicular pain).
Treating Neck Pain
Once a proper assessment has been done, a massage therapy treatment plan can be implemented based on patient-specific assessment findings and patient tolerance. Structures to keep in mind while assessing and treating patients suffering from neck pain may include neurovascular structures and investing fascia of:
• Upper Trapezius
• Splenius Cervicis
• Splenius Capitis
• Levator Scapula
• Temporomandibular joint
• Scalene Muscle Group
More to Explore
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Bier et al. (2018). Clinical Practice Guideline for Physical Therapy Assessment and Treatment in Patients With Nonspecific Neck Pain. Phys Ther.
Blanpied et al. (2017). Neck Pain: Revision 2017. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther
Bobos et al. (2018). Patient-Reported Outcome Measures Used for Neck Disorders: An Overview of Systematic Reviews. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.
Brosseau et al. (2012). Ottawa Panel evidence-based clinical practice guidelineon therapeutic massage for neck pain. J Bodyw Mov Ther.
Busse et al. (2017). Guideline for opioid therapy and chronic noncancer pain. CMAJ.
Bussières et al. (2016). The Treatment of Neck Pain–Associated Disorders and Whiplash-Associated Disorders: A Clinical Practice Guideline. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
Chou et al. (2018). The Global Spine Care Initiative: applying evidence-based guidelines on the non-invasive management of back and neck pain to low- and middle-income communities. Eur Spine J.
Childress & Becker (2016). Nonoperative Management of Cervical Radiculopathy. Am Fam Physician.
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Costello et al. (2016). The immediate effects of soft tissue mobilization versus therapeutic ultrasound for patients with neck and arm pain with evidence of neural mechanosensitivity: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy.
De Meulemeester et al. (2017). Comparing Trigger Point Dry Needling and Manual Pressure Technique for the Management of Myofascial Neck/Shoulder Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther.
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