If you're seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist for neck pain, they might recommend massage therapy treatments. Massage, in combination with other forms of treatment, can help with pain relief and healing. Here are five ways massage therapy might help your chronic neck pain.
1. Relieve Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms in your neck can be quite painful, and massage therapy can relax muscle spasms in some cases. The therapist feels for a sore muscle and then applies steady pressure for several seconds. This causes the spasm to release. When the spasm stops, blood and oxygen flow resumes so your muscle has the nutrients and oxygen it needs.
2. Relax Muscle Tension
Pain is sometimes caused by muscle tension. This results from stress or bad posture. Massaging the muscles in your neck, back, and shoulders causes muscles to release tension and relax. Massage can be relaxing for your entire body and mind, and as the tension flows away, your pain may decrease too.
3. Work Adhesions Loose
An injury from an accident or chronic repetitive movement can cause tiny tears in your neck tissue. These form scars or adhesions when they heal, and those contribute to neck pain. Your therapist might press around your back, shoulder, and neck to find these sore spots and then apply deep tissue work to release the adhesions.
4. Increase Circulation
Your therapist might use hot stones on your neck, back, and shoulders. The soothing heat increases circulation in your tissues so they can repair injuries. The heat is also relaxing, and that helps muscles release tension. Hot stones can be used before a traditional massage therapy session to warm up your tissues for deep work. Hot stones might also be used alone over trigger points where you have pain to provide relief.
5. Provide Pain Relief
Gentle massages, hot stone massage, and trigger point massage help with pain relief in different ways. You might get relief with a single massage therapy session, but the relief may be temporary. If you've been struggling with chronic neck pain and stiffness, you may need multiple massage sessions spread over several weeks. Healing muscles and neck tissues takes time and massage therapy can help by increasing circulation and reducing spasms that cause further injury and pain.
When you have neck pain, you might be leery about anyone rubbing on your neck. Be sure to communicate with your massage therapist to get the best experience. If you feel pain, let the therapist know. A well-trained massage therapist knows how to treat your condition to get the best results and will avoid causing you unnecessary pain.