Spinal cord injury incurred by neck massage

Ann Rehabil Med. 2012 Oct;36(5):708-12. doi: 10.5535/arm.2012.36.5.708. Epub 2012 Oct 31.


Massage is generally accepted as a safe and a widely used modality for various conditions, such as pain, lymphedema, and facial palsy. However, several complications, some with devastating results, have been reported. We introduce a case of a 43-year-old man who suffered from tetraplegia after a neck massage. Imaging studies revealed compressive myelopathy at the C6 level, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL), and a herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) at the C5-6 level. After 3 years of rehabilitation, his motor power improved, and he is able to walk and drive with adaptation. OPLL is a well-known predisposing factor for myelopathy in minor trauma, and it increases the risk of HNP, when it is associated with the degenerative disc. Our case emphasizes the need for additional caution in applying manipulation, including massage, in patients with OPLL; patients who are relatively young (i.e., in the fifth decade of life) are not immune to minor trauma.

Keywords: Massage; Ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament; Spinal cord injury.