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Study Revealed Professional Massage Helps Decrease Chronic Neck Pain

One-hour massage three times a week promotes noteworthy benefits for chronic neck pain sufferers.

 
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Ithaca, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/15/2014 -- Massage can alleviate neck pain when done regularly by a professional therapist for the right length of time, according to a new study. Karen Sherman, senior scientific investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, claimed that two or three times a week of one-hour sessions seem to be best. Sherman further explained, “in the short term, 60 minutes of massage is better than 30, and you want to do multiple treatments a week for the first four weeks.”

Sherman’s research was published in March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. It revealed that constant neck pain is common and ranges from several causes – from car accidents, awkward sleeping positions or spending hours hooked to a computer. Prescribed anti-inflamatory drugs do not offer relief at times. Sherman expounded, “people with back pain and neck pain aren’t usually satisfied with what they get from their doctor, so they are looking around for something that works.”

Sherman and her team conducted a new study to determine the ideal dose of massage. She randomly delegated 228 men and women, ranging from 20 to 64 years old, to one of six groups. It integrated 30-minute massages two or three times weekly, one-hour massages two or three times weekly, and a comparison group receiving no massage.

The researchers found out that those patients who had one hour of massage three times a week demonstrated notable improvement in function. They are also more likely to report a clinically significant decrease in pain, as compared to the control group. The authors also concluded that several chronic neck pain patients who get therapeutic massage may not benefit from it if they had shorter or fewer sessions.

Jeanette Ezzo, a massage therapist and researcher in Takoma Park, Maryland, cited the study as “an important contribution to understanding the massage dosage necessary to relieve neck pain.” Sherman pointed out that insurance coverage differs. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, the average cost for a one-hour professional massage done by a therapist is $65, and the fee can be higher in large cities.

One limitation of Sherman’s study included inability to determine whether massage therapy would benefit elderly patients, since the average age of patients was in the 40s. She also warned against having an untrained individual massage away neck pain. The study employed experienced massage therapists. She also emphasized that the treatment sessions evaluated range of motion and checked how the patient’s body compensated for the neck pain, which the average person is unable to make.

Sherman also advised that people with chronic neck pain may also inquire about special neck exercises. The research also indicated that more than 10 million medical visits a year in the US were due to neck pain. Previous studies also identified that at least half of the patients disclosed persistent problems when followed up one to five years later.

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