Neck Muscle Pain

By Jay Herrera, DPT
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Young man holding his neck muscle in pain

Neck muscle pain can be very painful and disruptive in your life when it happens. Imagine one morning you wake up and you try to turn your head and you suddenly feel a sharp pain that quickly grabs your attention. You immediately grab your neck as you try to catch your breath!

Has this ever happened to you?

There’s a good chance it has and your not alone as this is an all too common occurrence. There can be many reasons that you can have neck muscle pain. A very common reason is for muscle strain due to poor posture which over time can cause too much stress in the neck muscles leading them to become injured. This can feel like a sudden condition but it is usually due to day to day micro trauma where the load or pressure on the muscles is too great for it to handle.

Many of us are sitting working on our computers or texting on our phones with our head slightly shifted forward and tilted down. Over time this can stress out neck muscles as they are trying to stabilize and pull the head back over our shoulders. The constant tension on the muscles throughout the day is a stressful imbalance.

What can help to relieve the neck muscle pain?

One option is massage. Soft tissue massage can helps to releases muscle fibers that become stuck and aren’t able to properly contract and relax (which can be very painful). The mechanical action of massaging the painful area can help to break up the restrictions and improve blood flow to the tissues helping to heal the strains muscle. Massage can also provide gentle stretching of the muscle tissue helping it to relax and reduce tension.

Another option to treat neck muscle pain is manipulation to the spine. In some cases, performing joint manipulation (a fast gentle pulse) of the vertebral segments of the neck spine where the muscles are painful can be helpful to cause a relaxing effect to the right neck muscle and even give a temporary pain relieving effect to the painful region. It can also gently stretch the small joints of the neck vertebrae which can sometimes become stiff making the neck neck muscles not function well leading to the neck muscle pain.

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