Photo of a women massaging her own neck
The benefits of neck massage increase with both the length of time of the massage and the frequency of the sessions

How much massage to ease a pain in the neck?

20 March, 2014

Natural Health News — Neck pain is a common and debilitating condition, and massage therapy is commonly used to treat it, and yet there is very little research to guide patient on the ‘dose’ of massage needed to get the job done.

To find out US researchers randomised 228 patients with chronic neck pain into five different groups receiving various doses of massage over a five-week period. What they found was that the benefits increased in line the the ‘dose’.

Specifically, they found that, in terms of achieving a clinically meaningful improvement in neck dysfunction or pain, patients who received 30-minute treatments two or three times weekly were not significantly better than those in a control group who were put on a waiting list for treatment.

But patients who received 60-minute treatments two or three times weekly showed significant improvement in neck dysfunction and pain intensity compared to the control group.

Compared with the control group these patients were three times more likely to have clinically meaningful improvement in neck function if they received 60 minutes of massage twice a week and five times more likely if they received 60 minutes of massage three times a week.

Writing in the Annals of Family Medicine, the authors conclude patients who receive massage treatment for chronic neck pain may not be getting the full benefits if they only have a few short sessions of therapy. They add “Clinicians recommending massage and researchers studying this therapy should ensure that patients receive a likely effective dose of treatment.”