If you have neck or back pain, you might be considering massage or chiropractic to relieve the discomfort and asking yourself Do they work? Are they safe?
The founder of modern chiropractic care, a 19th-century Iowan, believed that chiropractic manipulation could cure many ailments, especially ones related to the nervous system. Most chiropractors focus on skeletal and muscular problems for the treatment of low-back, neck and shoulder pain.
Chiropractors perform millions of spinal manipulations (“adjustments”) each year. And some studies suggest that they can help diminish pain in the short term at least as much as exercise and even pain relievers.
The bad news is, experts believe, that for chronic, persistent back pain, results offer only moderate relief (except for neck pain, where regular chiropractic care could lessen discomfort better than anti-inflammatory drugs).
For chronic backache or neck pain that is not accompanied by symptoms requiring medical attention, considering chiropractic manipulation seems reasonable but it isn’t risk-free as it may worsen the pain of a slipped disk.
Massage involves a range of techniques to relieve muscle tension and pain. Many types of massage offer benefits beyond simple relaxation. A 2015 review of 25 small to midsize clinical trials by the independent Cochrane Library found that among people with low-back pain lasting more than four weeks, massage provided some relief and appeared to relieve discomfort better, on average, than treatments including acupuncture, traction and relaxation exercises.
Most important, when compared with no treatment (placebo), massage improved mobility, sleeping and other important components of daily life.
Scientists think massage triggers the release of pain-reducing hormones called endorphins, in fact, one 2003 study showed it worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain -- reducing the need for painkillers by 36%.
In summary, our recommendation is to try both but if you can only afford one – try massage first as it is more less costly, carries less risk and a lot more more enjoyable!