Benefits of a Massage for Neck Pain
What is neck pain?
The neck, or cervical spine, consists of vertebrae extending from the skull to the upper torso in order to support the head. It is composed of muscles, bones, ligaments and nerves and is the most flexible part of the spine. Inflammation, injuries and abnormalities can cause neck pain or stiffness.
Massage therapy is a part of complementary and integrative medicine that can help reduce muscle tension, pain, and stress. A trained and certified health professional manipulates soft tissues, including muscles, tendons and ligaments, with varying degrees of pressure and movement to increase mobility and reduce pain.
There are various types of massages that fluctuate with techniques and the amount of pressure applied. Special oils or aromatherapy may be included with certain massages. The two most common types practiced for neck pain include the following:
- Swedish massage focuses on kneading the affected area and applying long and steady strokes. This increases relaxation and blood flow.
- Deep tissue massage involves using firm pressure to help with pain in the deeper layers of the muscles and connective tissues. This type of massage focuses mainly on a specific area of pain.
Benefits of a massage for neck pain
A physical therapist or massage therapist may perform a localized, neck massage. Benefits of a neck massage include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Increased circulation and blood flow
- Relaxed neck muscles and other soft tissues (e.g., tendons, ligaments)
- Relieved muscle tension
- Elevated endorphin levels
- Reduced spasms
- Expanded relaxation
- Decreased inflammation
- Diminished aches, stiffness and pain
- Improved functionality and range of motion
- Enhanced sleep
As with any treatment, consult a health care professional to ensure a massage is safe with a diagnosed medical condition, especially if pregnant or with a cancer diagnosis. If any part of a massage is uncomfortable or painful, inform the therapist immediately. Massage therapy may not be appropriate for the following:
- Bleeding disorder
- Burns or open wounds
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Severe osteoporosis
- While on blood thinning medication
- Severe thrombocytopenia