One article on PainSci cites Sherman 2014: The Complete Guide to Neck Pain & Cricks
PainSci commentary on Sherman 2014: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.
This study compared different doses of massage therapy for 228 patients with chronic neck pain with no obvious cause.
It showed that more massage therapy helped neck pain, and suggested that perhaps other studies showing lackluster effects on neck pain “may have not administered adequate doses.” Interesting. It’s a pretty nice study, with actual good news.
But! (There’s always a but, eh?) Among other limitations, there was this one (and kudos to them for acknowledging it, I was really hoping they would): “inability to control for nonspecific effects of attention with the use of a wait list control design.” Ayuh. In other words, it’s not exactly a shocker that just spending a lot of pleasant time with a therapist might produce better outcomes than waiting for treatment. I mean, duh! The massage itself may well not have been the mechanism.
Or it may well have been. The problem is that this study can’t really tell us. Can it tell us anything? Yes: if massage helps neck pain, more massage probably helps neck pain more.
~ Paul Ingraham
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
PURPOSE: This trial was designed to evaluate the optimal dose of massage for individuals with chronic neck pain.
METHODS: We recruited 228 individuals with chronic nonspecific neck pain from an integrated health care system and the general population, and randomized them to 5 groups receiving various doses of massage (a 4-week course consisting of 30-minute visits 2 or 3 times weekly or 60-minute visits 1, 2, or 3 times weekly) or to a single control group (a 4-week period on a wait list). We assessed neck-related dysfunction with the Neck Disability Index (range, 0-50 points) and pain intensity with a numerical rating scale (range, 0-10 points) at baseline and 5 weeks. We used log-linear regression to assess the likelihood of clinically meaningful improvement in neck-related dysfunction (≥5 points on Neck Disability Index) or pain intensity (≥30% improvement) by treatment group.
RESULTS: After adjustment for baseline age, outcome measures, and imbalanced covariates, 30-minute treatments were not significantly better than the wait list control condition in terms of achieving a clinically meaningful improvement in neck dysfunction or pain, regardless of the frequency of treatments. In contrast, 60-minute treatments 2 and 3 times weekly significantly increased the likelihood of such improvement compared with the control condition in terms of both neck dysfunction (relative risk = 3.41 and 4.98, P = .04 and .005, respectively) and pain intensity (relative risk = 2.30 and 2.73; P = .007 and .001, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: After 4 weeks of treatment, we found multiple 60-minute massages per week more effective than fewer or shorter sessions for individuals with chronic neck pain. Clinicians recommending massage and researchers studying this therapy should ensure that patients receive a likely effective dose of treatment.
- “Randomized trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain,” Karen J Sherman, Daniel C Cherkin, Rene J Hawkes, Diana L Miglioretti, and Richard A Deyo, Clinical Journal of Pain, 2009.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Exercise and education versus saline injections for knee osteoarthritis: a randomised controlled equivalence trial. Bandak 2022 Ann Rheum Dis.
- Association of Lumbar MRI Findings with Current and Future Back Pain in a Population-based Cohort Study. Kasch 2022 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Yousef 2013 Anaesthesia.
- Is Neck Posture Subgroup in Late Adolescence a Risk Factor for Persistent Neck Pain in Young Adults? A Prospective Study. Richards 2021 Phys Ther.
- Sudden amnesia resulting in pain relief: the relationship between memory and pain. Choi 2007 Pain.