Massage or Chiropractor for Neck and Shoulder Pain

massage or chiropractor for neck and shoulder pain

Neck and shoulder pain can feel like an insidious, relentless discomfort, seeping into your daily life and robbing you of your focus and energy. Whether it stems from poor posture, an injury, or prolonged stress, the question often arises: should you seek relief from massage or chiropractor for neck and shoulder pain? This blog post aims to shed light on this common dilemma, providing a comparative analysis of both therapeutic approaches to guide you toward the best possible decision for your wellness journey.

Difference Between Chiropractor and Massage Therapist

Before diving into the debate of massage versus chiropractic care, let’s first understand the fundamental difference between these two practices.

A chiropractor is a healthcare professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal disorders using manual adjustments and manipulations. They focus on realigning the spine to improve overall body function, relieve shoulder blade pain, and promote healing.

On the other hand, a massage therapist is trained in the art of manipulating soft tissues and muscles to alleviate tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. While both chiropractors and massage therapists aim to address pain and discomfort in the body, their methods and techniques vary significantly.

Chiropractor for Neck and Shoulder Pain

women seeking chiropractor for neck and shoulder pain

When seeking relief from neck and shoulder pain, a shoulder adjustment chiropractor can be an excellent option. As mentioned earlier, they are trained to identify misalignments in the spine that may be causing discomfort in other parts of the body. By manually adjusting and realigning the spine, a chiropractor can help improve nerve communication, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pressure on tense muscles.

This can provide quick and effective relief from neck and shoulder pain.

Moreover, a chiropractor can also advise on ergonomics and exercises to help prevent future episodes of pain. They may also recommend lifestyle changes such as postural adjustments to help address the root cause of the issue.

When Should You See a Chiropractor for Neck and Shoulder Pain?

You should consider seeing a chiropractor for shoulder pain under the following circumstances:

  1. Persistent Pain: If your neck and shoulder pain persists despite resting and performing home remedies, it may be time to see a chiropractor.
  2. Sleep Disruptions: If pain disrupts your sleep or if you’re experiencing discomfort upon waking up, a chiropractor can help identify if spinal issues are to blame.
  3. Limited Range of Motion: Neck and shoulder pain that limits your ability to turn your head or lift your arms may indicate a musculoskeletal issue that a chiropractor can address.
  4. Pain Spreading Down Arms or Legs: If your neck and shoulder pain is spreading to your arms or legs, it could be a sign of a more serious problem requiring chiropractic care.
  5. Pain After an Accident: If you’ve recently been in a car accident, a fall, or sustained an injury, and are feeling lingering neck and shoulder pain, visit a chiropractor as soon as possible.

Remember, early intervention is key to preventing more serious complications and achieving faster relief.

Massage for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Massage therapy can also be beneficial in treating neck and shoulder pain. A massage therapist uses various techniques, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and trigger point therapy, to target specific muscles and tissues that may be causing discomfort.

Regular massages can help reduce tension, improve blood flow, and promote relaxation in the affected areas. This can provide relief from pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

Moreover, massage therapy can also aid in improving posture and range of motion, which can help prevent future episodes of pain. It can also be a great way to manage stress, which is often a contributing factor to neck and shoulder pain.

When Should You Get a Massage for Neck and Shoulder Pain?

Consider getting a massage for neck and shoulder pain if:

  1. You have muscle tension or stiffness in the affected areas.
  2. You are experiencing discomfort due to shoulder popping.
  3. Your neck and shoulder pain is associated with headaches, migraines, or TMJ disorders.
  4. You want a natural and non-invasive approach to managing your pain.
  5. You want to incorporate self-care into your wellness routine.

Should I Get a Massage or Chiropractor First?

should i get a massage or chiropractor first

Before deciding whether to get a massage or see a chiropractor first, it’s essential to understand the type of pain you’re experiencing.

Is it muscle tension, a result of stress, or poor posture?

Or is it a more severe, persistent pain that could be a symptom of arthritis in the shoulder?

Understanding your pain can help you decide which approach to take. If the pain is muscular, a massage might be the best first step. However, persistent, sharper pain might require a chiropractor’s evaluation.

The Case for Massage First

Starting with a massage can often be a good idea, especially for those new to these types of therapies. Massage therapy is non-invasive and can provide immediate relief from muscle tension and stress.

It helps to loosen the muscles and increase blood circulation in the affected area, thereby reducing pain and discomfort.

If your neck and shoulder pain is due to tension or stress, a massage can provide quick relief and relaxation.

The Case for Chiropractic First

However, if your pain is due to shoulder impingement and not alleviated by rest or massage, seeing a chiropractor first might be the better option.

This is especially true if your pain stems from an injury or is associated with other symptoms like a limited range of motion or pain spreading to your arms and legs.

A chiropractor can provide a more in-depth evaluation and identify any potential musculoskeletal issues leading to your pain.

Integration of Both Therapies

It’s worth noting that these two therapies are not mutually exclusive but can be incredibly effective when used in conjunction.

For instance, getting a massage before a chiropractic session can help relax the muscles, making manual adjustments easier and more effective.

Similarly, chiropractic care can make the body more receptive to massage, helping you achieve maximum benefits from both treatments.

Listen to Your Body

Ultimately, the decision between chiropractic care and massage therapy should be guided by your body and your comfort. Listen to your body, consider your symptoms, and consult with professionals if you’re unsure.

Remember, the goal is to alleviate your pain and improve your overall wellness. Whether you choose to see a chiropractor or a massage therapist first, both can provide beneficial relief for neck and shoulder pain, especially when used in combination.

Choosing between a Massage or Chiropractor

Choosing between a massage or chiropractor for neck and shoulder pain involves several factors that you should consider carefully. The right choice could mean faster relief, better results, and improved overall wellness.

1. Consider Your Medical History

Your medical history plays an essential role in this decision. If you have a history of musculoskeletal issues, spinal injuries, or conditions like a frozen shoulder, a chiropractor can help address these underlying issues. However, if you have skin conditions, deep vein thrombosis, or cancer, massage may not be suitable for you.

2. Look at Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle is another factor to consider. If you lead an active lifestyle and engage in sports or heavy physical activities, you might be more prone to injuries that a chiropractor can address.

On the other hand, if your lifestyle involves prolonged periods of stress or sitting, massage could be beneficial in relieving muscle tension and promoting relaxation.

3. Consider Your Comfort Level

Comfort is another significant consideration. Massage therapy involves touch and can be more intimate, so you need to be comfortable with this level of contact. Chiropractic adjustments, on the other hand, may not involve as much touch, but they can sometimes feel abrupt or cause temporary discomfort.

4. Frequency and Duration of Treatment

You should also consider the frequency and duration of treatment. Massage therapy can be as regular as you want, and the sessions can last between 30 minutes to an hour. Chiropractic sessions can be shorter but may require more frequent visits depending on your condition.

5. Cost and Insurance Coverage

Lastly, consider the cost and your insurance coverage. Since chiropractic care is often seen as a medical necessity, insurance companies may cover it. Massage therapy, on the other hand, is often viewed as a wellness or self-care measure and might not be covered.

Always remember that these two therapies can also work together to treat shoulder bursitis. You could start with a massage to relax your muscles before a chiropractic adjustment or use a massage to maintain the benefits of chiropractic care.

Ultimately, the choice between massage and chiropractic should focus on what best addresses your unique needs and leads to the best possible outcome for your health and wellness.

Self-care Techniques for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Self-care Techniques for Neck and Shoulder Pain

While seeking professional help for neck and shoulder pain is recommended, there are also self-care techniques you can incorporate into your daily routine to alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation.

These include:

  • Stretching exercises: Gentle stretches can help loosen muscles and fix uneven shoulders.
  • Heat or ice therapy: Applying heat or ice packs to the affected area can provide relief and reduce inflammation.
  • Proper posture: Maintaining proper posture while sitting, standing, and carrying heavy objects can help prevent neck and shoulder pain.
  • Stress management techniques: Engaging in activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can help manage stress levels, which may contribute to muscle tension and pain.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any self-care techniques, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or injury. With the right approach, you can take control of your neck and shoulder pain and improve your overall well-being.


1. Which therapy should I choose for my neck and shoulder pain?

The choice between massage and chiropractic therapy depends on your specific symptoms, medical history, lifestyle, comfort level, and treatment preferences. Consulting with both a massage therapist and a chiropractor can help you determine the best course of action.

2. Can massage and chiropractic be used together?

Yes, these therapies can complement each other in treating a dislocated shoulder. You could start with a massage to relax your muscles before a chiropractic adjustment or use a massage to maintain the benefits of chiropractic care.

3. Should you get a massage or chiropractor first?

It depends on your condition and treatment plan. In most cases, a chiropractor may address underlying issues that could contribute to neck and shoulder pain, while massage can provide instant relief. Consult with professionals to determine the best course of action for you.

4. How much does a chiropractic session typically cost?

The cost of a chiropractic session can vary widely based on location, expertise, and the specific treatment provided. However, on average, you might expect to pay between $30 to $200 per session.

Bottom Line

Massage or chiropractor for neck and shoulder pain can significantly impact your daily life, but with the right approach, you can find relief and improve your overall well-being. Consider the factors discussed in this guide to make an informed decision between massage and chiropractic therapy, or a combination of both.

Remember to consult with healthcare professionals before trying any self-care techniques or starting a treatment plan. With proper care and attention, you can manage your pain and lead a healthier, more active life. If you are interested in learning more about chiropractic care and its benefits, read our other blog posts on chiropractic care.

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