Massage for Neck Pain

Your head weighs about 11 pounds, which means your neck supports 11 pounds all day, every day. If that sounds easy to you, grab a 10-pound dumbbell and see how long you can hold it up. You won’t last a day. On the basis of physics alone, it is easy to understand why neck pain is a universal phenomenon. With 11 pounds to carry around, how could you neck muscles fail to be stressed? It is no wonder neck pain accounts for more than 10 million medical visits per year in the U.S. Fortunately, massage is good for neck pain.

Specific vs. Nonspecific Neck Pain

While physics can probably explain most of the neck pain out there, we need to remember there are other sources, too. In addition to its muscles, the neck includes skin, blood vessels, lymph nodes, a couple types of glands, the spinal cord, the esophagus, the larynx, and the trachea. Any one of these substructures can develop a medical condition that causes neck pain and needs medical attention.

Nonspecific neck pain, on the other hand, is easy to understand. In addition to stress of carrying around an 11-pound weight, modern life makes unnatural demands on your neck. Whether you’re at a workbench, a computer screen, or a dashboard, poor posture can easily strain your neck muscles. The result can be pain that grows with particular head movements, tightened muscles or spasms, or even headache.

Massage for Neck Pain

Conventional medicine has a bad reputation for treating neck pain. Neck pain is, in fact, the second leading cause for people seeking out complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The most common CAM treatments for neck pain are chiropractic and massage.

Nevertheless, there is medical research on massage’s effectiveness for neck pain. A 2014 article in Annals of Family Medicine, for example, looked at 228 people who were being treated at a medical center for nonspecific neck pain. Researchers offered these patients massages in varied frequency and duration. Licensed massage therapists (LMTs) provided the massages.

More than Once a Week

The purpose of the study was not to prove massage can relieve nonspecific neck pain. That was assumed. The purpose of the study was to find the right dosage (i.e., massages per week) for it. The study concluded “only about 5% of participants were very satisfied with their overall care for neck pain, suggesting that new therapeutic alternatives are needed for family physicians. Outcome data suggest that patients seeking massage for chronic neck pain are more likely to benefit if they have multiple 60-minute treatments per week than if they have only 1.”

Massage is one of the recovery/wellness services we offer here at Peak. Our LMTs can perform 30-, 60-, or 90-minute sessions. So, if you are bothered by neck pain, regardless of whether you feel the need of a doctor, enjoy the benefit of medical research and book yourself a couple 60-minute massages per week. Keep this up for a month or until you feel the pain is under control. Make sure your LMT knows you are seeking help for neck pain. And give your neck muscles a break from the stress of carrying around an 11-pound weight.