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Massage for Neck Pain

According to The Idioms, the phrase “pain in the neck” originated as a less vulgar way to say “pain in the ass.” I guess one is more polite than the other. But I’ve had pains in both places, and I think a pain in the neck, all things being equal, is worse than a pain in the ass. You can usually relieve a pain the ass by standing up or lying on your stomach. But the only way to achieve immediate relief from a pain in the neck is to move your head until the pain stops. But then you have to keep your head in that position. For a more gradual — and permanent — relief, however, let me suggest massage for neck pain. Depending on what’s causing it, massage can be both a gentle and reliable way to get rid of your pain in the neck.

Lack of Good Data

First, in the interests of full disclosure, I need to deal with a 2007 study published by the University of Minnesota. It was a systematic review of studies of massage for neck pain. The authors identified 19 trials, most of which they omitted for not including enough data. They ended up looking at 6 trials. and even those didn’t show much. “No recommendations for practice can be made at this time because the effectiveness of massage for neck pain remains uncertain.”

That study does not mean massage is ineffective for neck pain. It just means that the clinical researchers who study massage don’t gather very good data. Massage, when performed by a qualified massage therapist, is very safe. So if you have neck pain, and you want to relieve it, you are probably at lower risk getting a massage than you are taking medications for it.

Causes of Neck Pain

The most common cause of neck pain is strained neck muscles. You can strain your neck muscles with poor posture, such as hunching over a computer screen. If this is the case, you can probably cure your neck pain permanently by adopting good posture. That doesn’t work overnight, of course, and you may still want to get a massage for interim relief.

Massage nearly always makes you feel better. According to Prevention, the movement of your skin during a massage calms and slows your nervous system. That slowing of the nervous system tends to create unexpected effects throughout your body. These can include decreased heart rate, lowered blood pressure, even changes in brain activity.

Even for Osteoarthritis

Another frequent cause of neck pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is damaged cartilage. You can damage your cartilage with wear and tear, unusual stress (such as that applied by obesity), overuse, or trauma. You might think that massage wouldn’t be very good for damaged cartilage, but the Arthritis Foundation says it can help with neck pain, even when it’s from osteoarthritis. The Foundation’s blog reported on a study from University of Miami School of Medicine. The study found that regular moderate-pressure massage by a therapist, combined with daily self-massages, reduced neck pain and increased range of movement. The blog offers some tips on self-massage, but I think you might do better to get your massage therapist to show you how to do it.

That brings up an important point about massage for neck pain. You ought to get it done by a trained and qualified massage therapist or a physical therapist. The neck is a complicated structure, and it could be dangerous to subject it to manipulations by somebody who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. Here at Peak Recovery & Health Center, our massage therapists are licensed and qualified. And they know how to make your neck feel better. Book yourself a massage today.

“Massage” by Nick J Webb is licensed under CC BY 2.0