This past spring, an interesting piece of research on massage and neck pain was published in the Annals of Family Medicine (1). It examined different massage protocols for treating chronic, nonspecific neck pain.
The 228 participants were randomly separated into five groups. The individuals in the first group were simply put on a “wait list” but never actually received any massage. The other four groups all received massage but the length and frequency of the sessions varied for each group. One group received two or three 30 minute sessions per week. The other groups all received 60 minute treatment sessions either once, twice or three times per week. All of the massage groups received treatments for 4 weeks and all sessions focused solely on the thoracic spine and neck regions.
According to the study, both the length and frequency of the sessions can impact the outcome. After four weeks, the 30 minute treatment group did not report any statistically significant improvements in either pain or dysfunction. Neither did the group that received one session per week for 60 minutes. Participants who received treatments at least twice a week for one hour were much more likely to experience improvement with both neck pain and dysfunction.
The massage utilized in this study was most likely different than the type of treatments we have developed at SMI. However, it does help to illustrate a very important point. Relatively small changes in the treatment approach can have a substantial impact on the outcome.
At SMI, we realize that the difference between a successful outcome and something less, can often times be a fine line. By combining our extensive experience as therapists with the results from meaningful research studies, we are able to provide approaches that maximize the potential for success for each one of our clients.
If you have any further questions about neck pain, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
(1) Karen Sherman, Andrea Cook, Robert Wellman, Rene Hawkes, Janet Kahn, Richard Deyo, Daniel Cherkin. “Five Week Outcomes From a Dosing Trial of Therapeutic Massage for Chronic Neck Pain.” Annals of Family Medicine March/April 2014: 112-120