There are many, many causes of neck pain... Simple muscle strains, chronic muscle fatigue, muscle tension from emotional stress, etc. I find that the vast majority of people I treat have several factors at work:
Almost always I will find that certain areas of my patients’ spines have become fixated, to varying degrees. This can be due to past trauma or chronic muscle tension... Both with the result that certain areas of your spine have not been moving through a full range of motion for an extended period of time.
Think about what would happen if you put your healthy arm in a cast for 6 months or a year, and then removed the cast. The same things happen in your spine when its motion is limited for long periods of time. Muscles tighten, become fibrous, and the blood supply diminishes. Over time spinal discs atrophy and deteriorate. Vertebrae develop bone spurs.
I typically find diminished mobility both in the very upper portion, especially where the top vertebra supports the skull, and in the lower neck/upper back region. Incidentally the top vertebra in your neck is sometimes called the “atlas”, because it’s likened to the Titan in Greek mythology that held up the
My approach is to restore this lost spinal motion primarily through manual mobilization techniques and very specialized spinal stretching techniques.
Muscles are always going to be involved. I most commonly find tight, taut, painful, fibrous muscles along the base of the skull and in the upper back/shoulder region. These are the most vulnerable regions in most types of neck trauma, and are the areas where most of us
store our stress.
Typically these muscles have diminished blood supply, are unable to properly clear out cellular toxins, and are in a state of chronic tension and irritation.
I use various techniques to help restore normal circulation and tone. Typically this involves adjusting the spinal areas associated with the innervation of those muscles, and some massage and stretching.
Most patients I see age 40 or over will have some type of degenerative change in one or more areas of their spine. Typically I find this in the lower area of the neck, the mid back, and the lower back.
While these changes are not usually reversible, I have found that by restoring motion to the spinal joints and the associated muscles, symptoms can be eliminated or minimized.
Obviously trauma to the neck will result in neck pain. Many of my patients first come to my office after being injured in a car or work accident. 25 years in practice has taught me how to help these injuries heal as fast as possible, and how to minimize the possibility of these problems leading to chronic pain and dysfunction in the future.
While most causes of neck pain fall into one or more of the above categories, there will always be a small percentage that are due to more serious problems...cancers, tumors, herniated discs, etc. Rest assured that I am always mindful of the red flags that can point to such problems, and won’t hesitate to refer you to the most appropriate health care professional if indicated.