Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common pains that we experience as a population, mostly as a result of our modern day lifestyles ranging from mechanical causes such as overhead activities, prolonged sitting / slouching, working long hours by the workstations, improper sleeping postures, to non-mechanical causes, such as STRESS.


Neck pain goes hand in hand with headaches. People who suffer from headaches frequently also suffer from neck pain, this is because neck muscle problems often refer pain somewhere else, which means, a problem in one muscle gives you pain elsewhere.

For the neck, this type of referred pain can appear as a headache, and can also be referred to the mid-back, the shoulders, and down the arms as well.

Neck muscle problems are true sources of headaches more often than any other causes. As mentioned in the Headache article, headaches, especially migraines and tension headaches, are frequently due to nerve entrapment occurring at the neck, especially at the junction between your skull and neck (See Headache article).

Your neck houses one of the most important parts of your spine – the cervical spine. Nerves that control movement of the entire body, including organs, all have to pass through the cervical spine at the neck to reach their destinations, which explains why severe neck injuries result in either death or paraplegia. There are more nerves traveling through, under, and across different neck muscles than any other body part, which explains the sensitivity of neck to any injury, and why it is so easy to get neck pain due to muscle tension and nerve entrapments.

The cervical spine at the neck has the largest range of motion through the entire spine to ensure high mobility of our head to allow our full sensory experience of the world. We are usually very sensitive to any restriction of our range of motions, and therefore any disturbances are usually associated with pain as a warning signal.

However, when ignored, especially if the pain is of low grade; chronic tension in the neck muscles can build up and lead to muscle tightness, which in turn causes muscle shortening and formation of fibrotic scar tissue (yes, scar tissue can form in the absence of trauma).

Long-term progression of the condition eventually brings on arthritis or intervertebral disc problems in the neck. Any prolonged limited range of motion of the neck, either due to pain avoidance, poor posture or stress induced poor breathing pattern, all lead to chronic tension in the neck, and the above progression patterns.

The movements of the entire upper limbs, from shoulders to fingers, are controlled by nerves that exit the cervical spine at the neck and form a bundle that travels through the front chest, shoulder, elbow to hand. This is why many types of nerve pain in the arms, forearms or hands have its origin in the neck. Only when the origin of the problems are found and resolved can the nerve pain be completely healed.

Neck muscles, especially the scalene muscles, are very closely linked to breathing, particularly chest breathing vs. abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing is naturally the predominant breathing pattern that is physiologically correct, while excessive chest breathing almost always results in chronic tension of the scalene muscles and other accessory breathing muscles.

Predominant chest breathing is usually associated with poor posture, poor abdominal tone and stress reaction. Unfortunately, chest breathing pattern is so prevalent nowadays that it significantly affects a large percentage of our population, and as a result the rate of neck stiffness, pain, headache, as well as compromised respiratory health has significantly affected more and more of us.

Neck muscles are affected by our postures and what we do. – As a nation we have become so sedentary that prolonged sitting and working at workstations becomes a major pattern of daily life. Unfortunately our bodies are not built for this life style that promotes poor balance of the neck muscles, shoulder muscles, chest muscles and much more. The most direct effect of this lifestyle is neck pain, stiffness and more and more restricted range of motion. In addition, sleeping position, posture, habit, bed and pillow condition, and even air-conditioner or open windows are contributing factors for neck pain, especially the type of neck pain that starts when waking up in the morning.

There are many other factors that influence neck pain. Specific activities that involve head positions that strain the neck, including painting, ceiling work, or athletic activities such as volleyball, cycling, or playing musical instruments including violins and guitars can all contribute to neck pain and strain, if not done properly.

As you see, there is far more to neck problems than just simple pain. Neck pain arises from posture, poor breathing, the specific sports activities you do or your daily job activities. There are so many reasons and diverse patterns of neck pain that no simple cookie-cutter treatment will guarantee the help you need for your specific neck problem.

If you suffer from neck pain, call us today for an in depth examination and analysis. We will create a treatment program tailor made to your specific needs and give you the tools to remain pain free while continuing to enjoy the activities that bring joy to your life.

We do our very best to have you back in action in minimum time.

Contact us today for our neck pain treatment plan and information.
(858) 481-1438

Dr. Dawn Liu, Ph.D., D.C., L.Ac
Dr. Anna Phillips, D.C., M.S.
David Snyder, L.Ac., C.Ht
Action Chiropractic & Wellness
312 S. Cedros Ave, Ste 326
Solana Beach, CA 92075

Call: (858) 481-1438