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More massage better

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

So this study showed that more massage therapy helped neck pain, suggesting that perhaps other studies showing lackluster effects on neck pain “may have not administered adequate doses.” Interesting. Pretty nice study, with 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. Can it tell us anything? Yes: if massage helps neck pain, more massage probably helps neck pain more.

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