Randomized trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain.

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Hawkes RJ, Miglioretti DL, Deyo RA.

This study was conducted to evaluate whether therapeutic massage is more beneficial than a self-care book for patients with chronic neck pain. Sixty-four such patients were randomized to receive up to 10 massages over 10 weeks or a self-care book. Follow-up telephone interviews after 4, 10, and 26 weeks assessed outcomes including dysfunction and symptoms. At 10 weeks, more participants randomized to massage experienced clinically significant improvement on the Neck Disability Index and on the symptom bothersomeness scale. After 26 weeks, massage group members tended to be more likely to report improved function, but not symptom bothersomeness. Mean differences between groups were strongest at 4 weeks and not evident by 26 weeks.

This study suggests that massage is safe and may have clinical benefits for treating chronic neck pain at least in the short term. A larger trial is warranted to confirm these results.

Clin J Pain. 2009, 25(3), 233-8.

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