Massage Therapy for Neck Pain

Massage Therapy for Neck Pain

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 mobilizationsoft tissue massagetriggerpointIASTM)
• 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:
• Suboccipitals
• Upper Trapezius
• Splenius Cervicis
• Splenius Capitis
• Levator Scapula
• Rhomboids
• Occipitofrontalis
• Sternocleidomastoid
• Temporomandibular joint
• Scalene Muscle Group

More to Explore

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Bier, J.D., Scholten-Peeters, W.G.M., ... Verhagen, A.P. (2018). Clinical Practice Guideline for Physical Therapy Assessment and Treatment in Patients With Nonspecific Neck Pain. Phys Ther.

Blanpied, P.R., Gross, A.R., Elliott, J.M., Devaney, L.L., Clewley, D., Walton, D.M., Sparks, C., Robertson, E.K. (2017). Neck Pain: Revision 2017. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther

Brosseau, L., Wells, G.A., ... Cohoon C. (2012). Ottawa Panel evidence-based clinical practice guidelineon therapeutic massage for neck pain. J Bodyw Mov Ther.

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Cook, A. J., Wellman, R. D., Cherkin, D. C., Kahn, J. R., & Sherman, K. J. (2015). Randomized clinical trial assessing whether additional massage treatments for chronic neck pain improve 12- and 26-week outcomes. The Spine Journal.

Costello, M., Puentedura, E. ‘, Cleland, J., & Ciccone, C. D. (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.

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De Meulemeester, K.E., Castelein, B., ... Cagnie, B. (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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Gross, A., Langevin, P., Burnie, S. J., . . . Leblanc, F. (2015). Manipulation and mobilisation for neck pain contrasted against an inactive control or another active treatment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Haller, H., Lauche, R., ... Dobos, G. (2016). Craniosacral Therapy for the Treatment of Chronic Neck Pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain. (OPEN ACCESS)

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Morikawa, Y., Takamoto, K.,... Nishijo, H. (2017). Compression at Myofascial Trigger Point on Chronic Neck Pain Provides  Pain Relief through the Prefrontal Cortex and Autonomic Nervous System: A Pilot Study. Front Neurosci. (OPEN ACCESS) 

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