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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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
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28666405

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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.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26096474

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.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27559283

Courtney, C.A., Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, C., Bond, S. (2017). Mechanisms of chronic pain - key considerations for appropriate physical therapy management. J Man Manip Ther.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28694674

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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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27297448

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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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Nee, R.J., Vicenzino, B., Jull, G.A., Cleland, J.A., & Coppieters, M.W. (2012). Neural tissue management provides immediate clinically relevant benefits without harmful effects for patients with nerve-related neck and arm pain: a randomised trial. Journal of Physiotherapy.
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Sherman, K. J., Cook, A. J., ... Cherkin, D. C. (2014). Five-Week Outcomes From a Dosing Trial of Therapeutic Massage for Chronic Neck Pain. The Annals of Family Medicine.
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Sherman, K. J., Cherkin, D. C., Hawkes, R. J., Miglioretti, D. L., & Deyo, R. A. (2009). Randomized Trial of Therapeutic Massage for Chronic Neck Pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain.
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Sutton, D. A., Côté, P., . . . Stupar, M. (2016). Is multimodal care effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? A systematic review by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration. The Spine Journal.
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Wong, J. J., Shearer, H. M., . . . Taylor-Vaisey, A. (2016). Are manual therapies, passive physical modalities, or acupuncture effective for the management of patients with whiplash-associated disorders or neck pain and associated disorders? an update of the bone and joint decade task force on neck pain and its associated disorders by the optima collaboration. The Spine Journal.
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