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Longer, frequent massages improve chronic neck pain: study

Results of a recent study found that multiple 60-minute massages per week were more effective than fewer or shorter sessions for people with chronic neck pain.

The study, which was funded by the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), suggests that several hour-long massages per week may be the best “dose” for people with chronic neck pain condition.


August 13, 2014
By Massage Therapy Canada staff

Topics

Researchers from Group Health Research Institute, University of
Washington, The University of Vermont College of Medicine, and Oregon
Health and Science University published their findings in the Annals of
Family Medicine.

Researchers enrolled 228 people with chronic
neck pain into five randomly assigned groups receiving various “doses”
of massage: a four-week course of 30-minute sessions two or three times
each week or 60-minute sessions one, two or three times each week. Other
participants were assigned to a four-week wait list, which served as
the control group. Therapists used a wide range of massage techniques
and were not allowed to make any self-care recommendations.

The
researchers found that 30-minute massages two or three times per week
did not provide significant benefits compared with the wait-list control
group. However, beneficial effects of 60-minute massages increased with
dose and were particularly evident for participants receiving massages
two or three times per week.

Compared with the control group,
participants were three times more likely to have clinically meaningful
improvement in neck function if they received 60-minute massages twice
per week and five times more likely if they received 60-minute massages
three times per week.

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However, the researchers noted that longer
and more frequent massages might be challenging for many patients due
to financial and time constraints. They also noted that future studies
of massage for neck pain should include multiple 60-minute massages per
week for the first four weeks of treatment, self-care recommendations
and longer-term follow-up.

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine


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