Manual Therapy for Neck Pain
Manual Therapy for Neck Pain
Manual therapy includes:
- Massage, which applies pressure to the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles.
- Mobilization, which uses slow, measured movements to twist, pull, or push bones and joints.
- Manipulation, which uses pressure on a joint. It can be done with the hands or a special device. The careful, controlled force used on the joint can range from gentle to strong, and from slow to rapid. Sometimes other joints of the body are also worked on to help treat the spine.
Manual therapy is sometimes used for neck pain . A review of multiple studies shows that exercise and mobilization, either separate or used together, are likely to be helpful in the treatment of non-specific neck pain. (Pain is "non-specific" when its cause isn't clear.) A combination of exercise and manual therapy is likely to work the best. footnote 1 And manual therapy may be better than medicine for relieving non-specific neck pain. footnote 2
Manipulation is not recommended if you have nerve-related problems that are very severe or getting worse.
Before you try manual therapy for neck pain, think about the following:
- First, try home treatment, like heat, ice, pain relievers, and mild exercise or stretching. These things may help your neck pain the best.
- If you have severe pain or your symptoms are getting worse, or if you're getting new symptoms, consider talking to your doctor. Manipulation may not be the right treatment for you.
- Good manual therapy will include information on self-care and strength exercises.
- If you choose to see a health care provider who does manual therapy, find one who is willing to work with your other health care providers.
Do your research. Not all manual therapy is the same. And there isn't a good way to tell what will be helpful and what won't. If you decide to try it, talk to a couple of different manual therapy providers before you choose and get treated by one.
- Binder A (2008). Neck pain, search date May 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
- Bronfort G, et al. (2012). Spinal manipulation, medication, or home exercise with advice for acute and subacute neck pain: A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156(1, Part 1): 1–10.
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Current as ofNovember 14, 2014
Current as of: November 14, 2014
Public Health Alerts
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
Want More Information?
HealthLink BC, your provincial health line, is as close as your phone or the web any time of the day or night, every day of the year.
Call 8-1-1 toll-free in B.C. or for deaf and hearing-impaired, call 7-1-1.
You can speak with a health service representative, who can also connect you with a:
- registered nurse any time, every day of the year;
- registered dietitian from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday;
- pharmacist from 5pm to 9am, every day of the year.
Translation services are available in more than 130 languages.
FIND Services and Resources
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Is it an emergency?
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.