Neck Pain

Neck Pain: Overview

Many people experience neck and back discomfort at sometime in their lives.  Problems can occur suddenly after an accident or injury, or may occur as the result of a slow, gradual process due to lack of exercise or poor posture.  Incorrect posture throws the head forward and puts a tremendous amount of stress on the muscles in the back of the neck and upper shoulders.  Muscles in this position maintain a constant state of contraction, resulting in injury and subsequent discomfort.

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Causes and Development

Poor sleeping habits, poor work habits and tension can all contribute to this problem.  While tension is not often the primary cause of neck pain, it can certainly worsen pain and make you more prone to injury.  Failure to exercise opposing muscle groups can also result in neck and shoulder pain.  The imbalance of muscle strength can cause chronic or sporadic tension and tightness in these areas.

Some other specific conditions that can lead to muscle deterioration and pain include a sedentary lifestyle and general lack of muscular tone.  A healthy, pain-free neck also depends on the condition of your upper back.  Because the neck and upper back share the same muscles, the strength and flexibility of the shoulders and upper back muscles are important for keeping the neck balanced.

Pain is also generated when muscles go into spasm.  While such a spasm may occur as a protective reflex, it intensifies discomfort by reducing circulation and setting up an inflammatory response.  Stress of any kind, physical or emotional, and toxicity may cause spasms in underexercised muscles.  Lastly, pressure or "pinching" of the nerves in the spine can cause severe pain that can radiate (travel) down the arms.  Significant pain requires evaluation by a doctor, and may require visiting more than one in the search for a solution.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Neck Pain:

Symptoms - Skeletal

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Neck Pain suggests the following may be present:




If the body is dehydrated, the intervertebral disks in the cervical spine will also be dehydrated, possibly causing neck pain.


A Potentially Urgent Medical Need

Severe neck pain can indicate a potentially life-threatening condition, such as meningitis, encephalitis or a subarachnoid hemorrhage.



Neck / Spine

Torticollis (Loxia, "Wryneck")

Pain in the neck, back, or shoulder affects more than two-thirds of all people with torticollis.

Recommendations for Neck Pain:


Invasive / Surgery

Physical Medicine

Calming / Stretching Exercises

Yoga exercises may provide the activity needed to achieve greater flexibility, postural balance, and tension relief that will reduce the incidence of neck pain.  "Yoga is one of the best methods someone can use to help decrease their back and neck pain", says Dr. Mary Pulig Schatz, author of A Doctor's Gentle Yoga Guide to Back and Neck Pain Release.


Acute neck pain may be relieved by manipulation, especially if the pain is due to a spinal "fixation" or "subluxation" which often requires adjustment for rapid relief.

Simply extending the head back for 30 second periods may improve disc position and assist water flow into dehydrated discs.  This may also be performed while lying on your back in bed.  Hang your head over the edge, toward the floor.  Every thirty seconds or so bring your chin up to your chest and then back down again.  Mobility exercises help maintain neck flexibility.

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Weak or unproven link: may suggest
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May be useful: may help with
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