Spinal Manipulation Vs. Chinese Massage – Which Is Better For Neck Pain?

When it comes to dealing with chronic neck pain, there are many drug-free options available. But which offer the most effective neck pain relief? To answer that question, a team of researchers compared traditional Chinese massage to a specific technique known as Long’s manipulation which incorporates spinal manipulation with traditional Chinese massage.

Traditional Chinese massage (TCM) involves applying several different pressure-based techniques to relieve pain. This can be accomplished by use of nothing more than the massage therapist’s hands or it can involve the expert handling of different devices meant to supply the same results. Although TCM is effective for other types of pain,  whether or not it works for neck pain specifically has not been thoroughly studied.

The study included a group of people suffering from chronic neck pain assigned to one of two groups. The first group engaged in TCM for a total of eight sessions, and the second group received Long’s manipulation at the same rate. Each member was assessed for their level of pain as well as their range of motion before, immediately after, and three months post-research.

The Results

The group that went through Long’s manipulation reported “significantly” lower pain levels than the group who engaged solely in TCM. That group also had bigger improvements in disability and greater satisfaction. The results demonstrate that Long’s manipulation, a combination of traditional Chinese massage and spinal manipulation, is better for chronic pain than traditional Chinese massage alone.
Many patients report significant neck pain relief when receiving both massage and chiropractic. Research has also shown that longer massage sessions are better for neck pain than short sessions.

Correction:  This post has been corrected to clarify that Long’s manipulation is a combination of traditional Chinese massage and spinal manipulation, so that study was essentially comparing a combination of massage plus spinal  manipulation to massage alone.

References
Lin JH, et al. The effectiveness of Long’s manipulation on patients with chronic mechanical neck pain: a randomized controlled trial. Manual Therapy. 2013 Aug; 18(4)308-15.
Cheng, Y and Huang, G. Efficacy of Massage Therapy on Pain and Dysfunction in Patients with Neck Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. V2014; 2014.

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