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“Stiff”, “Radiating”, “Sharp” or even “a Crinque”.  These are just several of the ways I have heard people describe their neck pain.  Neck pain can seriously affect your sleep quality,  effectiveness at work and enjoyment of physical activities and hobbies.  It can even make everyday tasks like driving seem challenging and painful.  Furthermore, neck pain can continue to increase and affect other areas such as the strength and function of the shoulder, elbow and hand or even cause headaches.  

With more and more time spent working on the computer and phone screen time (yes “Text Neck” IS a real problem), there has been an increase in the amount of people who are struggling with and are frustrated by neck pain.  Additionally, increasing stress from approaching year end deadlines and the added holiday hoopla can really raise the level of neck pain at a time when we are supposed to be happy and full of cheer.  

There are several reasons why people suffer with neck pain longer than they should.  Most believe neck pain to be a complex and delicate problem.  There is some truth to that statement but it often leaves people confused about where to begin to find relief.  Some people may be apprehensive about the commonly provided options for neck pain including pain medications, expensive tests like MRI’s, invasive injections, spinal manipulation or even needing surgery. Another reason people suffer with neck pain longer than they need to is because even when they have reached out for help, they have not been assessed thoroughly and have been misdiagnosed and therefore mistreated. 

It is my goal to provide some insight to what may be the cause of your neck pain and what you can do to make confident decisions about how to get relief.   

The neck is made up of the multiple bones called cervical vertebra.  These bones are like donuts stacked on top of each with a disc or cushion between each. The spinal cord runs down the aligned holes of the stacked donuts. Nerve roots spring out from the spinal cord and exit out between each donut layer.  The muscles around the neck are supposed to hold the stacked donuts properly in place.  

So far things are good as long as we don’t move BUT, if the little donut vertebrae are not moving synchronously, the little joints holding them together could become stuck.  This type of pain is usually sharp and specific enough that you could usually put your finger on it.  This is compared to the more radiating ache or even burning pain that could be felt into the shoulder blade area or even down the arm as far as the hand.  This would be due to a donut collapse or vertebral disc bulging (possibly a jelly donut) causing some pinching or compression of a nerve root.  

With both of aforementioned problems, having a poor muscular balance of the neck is usually one of the driving factors for most neck related issues, which again may even extend into the upper back and down the arm.  Muscular imbalances can cause uneven strain or pull on the vertebra.  Even a several millimeters could cause enough malalignment to create joint and nerve root problems leading to annoying or even debilitating pain. But said otherwise, just regaining a few millimeters in the right direction could be the difference between living with pain or living and enjoying each day to the fullest.  This can be done without needing pain medications, expensive tests, invasive injections, aggressive manipulations or risk of surgery.  

You likely still have many questions which I did not have the space to answer in this column such as: Which is better for my neck pain, ice or heat?  What is the best pillow to use?  How should I set up my desk to be able to work more comfortably?  Do I need an X Ray or MRI? Which is best and when; massage, stretching or strengthening?  

I am thrilled to be able to answer those questions and many more for you on our dedicated webpage for providing relief to those who are suffering from and frustrated with neck pain.  For full instant access to all of this information plus getting an accurate assessment of your specific problem, please visit:

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