Everyone has suffered from a sore neck on occasion, perhaps from a poor sleep position or excessive strain during an activity or work. In addition, it has been estimated that people have a 70 percent likelihood of developing chronic neck pain during their lives. While temporary neck pain is annoying and perhaps even debilitating, chronic neck pain can be life-altering and affect the sufferer’s productivity. Quite often chronic neck pain is the result of a work-related musculoskeletal disorder. This can occur when a person works for a long time or at a high intensity. This is especially true when it involves repetitive motion or extended periods sitting over a keyboard. In addition, an increasing number of people are complaining of pain occurring not only in the neck, but also in their upper extremities and head – and all of this as a result of sustained excessive tension. In other words, too much time in front of a computer can become more than a mere “pain in the neck!”

A Closer Look Into Neck Pain

Another common cause of neck pain is known as a mechanical dysfunction, which causes abnormal joint movement and can limit neck movement. In addition, unbalanced soft tissue surrounding the head and neck area can limit the range of motion of the head and cause neck pain. A primary cause of neck pain is poor posture. This is commonly a result of slouching or looking down at a phone for long periods of time. Millions of people in the U.S. use their cell phones and hand-held devices while being in a poor posture. Extended time spent with the head leaning forward or tilted down can lead to a loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine and increased stresses along the cervical spine. These stresses can lead to early wear, tear, degeneration and injury. Simple physics plays an integral role in posture and neck pain. For example, the weight stress on your spine dramatically increases when you flex, or tilt, your head forward at varying degrees. An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds when held upright in a proper posture position. Imagine, as you stand upright, that a vertical line, or rod, running upwards from the soles of your feet, continues through your body and touches the top of your head while lined up with your ears. As your head tilts forward the stress put on your neck becomes the equivalent of holding 27 pounds at a 15-degree angle. This increases to 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees. With your head tilted forward at a 45-degree angle, your neck muscles are straining to hold up what is the equivalent of five heads! And many of us do this for extended periods all throughout the day.active release technique for neck pain
(graphic courtesy – Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, M.D.)
For most people, the cause of their chronic neck pain can usually be avoided or corrected, and the pain treated without surgery or often even without medications. However, there are some cervical spine conditions that can affect not only the neck but the head, shoulders, or arms, as well. Such conditions include:
  • Cervical osteoarthritis in the cervical spine which causes excessive friction in the neck’s facet joints, causing neck pain and stiffness.
  • Cervical degenerative disc disease, the wear-and-tear on a cervical spinal disc that typically triggers low-level chronic neck pain and episodes of severe pain and instability.
  • Cervical herniated discs that bulge or leak from the disc space, causing inflammation and irritation of the surrounding joints, muscles, or nerve roots. It typically causes nerve pain in the shoulders and arms and can also cause mild to moderate pain and stiffness in the neck.

Chronic Neck Pain and ART

Fortunately, there are manual therapies such as active release technique, myofascial release and certain types of sports massage can be employed to relieve chronic neck pain. Depending on the root cause, these therapies might be combined with exercise, physical therapy, chiropractic care, rest, ice and heat to conquer the pain. If needed, they can also be used in addition to medication, injections, and surgery. Active Release Technique is a clinical manual therapy specifically designed to relieve musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction by treating muscles, tendons, ligaments, joint tissue and nerves. It is a movement-based therapy that combines patented hands-on treatments with client movement to break up scar tissue, separate adhesions in muscles, relieve entrapped nerves and restore muscle length. In addition, ART can increase joint range of motion and blood flow, while ultimately reducing chronic and acute pain. ART was developed by Dr. P. Michael Leahy to treat muscles, tendons, joints, fascia (connective tissue), ligaments and nerves. ART is a comprehensive system comprised of hundreds of protocols, each designed to identify and treat pathologies in specific structures and tissues. A good question for a chronic neck pain sufferer, however, might be, “Can it relieve my neck pain?” The Journal of Physical Therapy Science reported on the results of an extensive study comparing the efficacy of both active release technique (ART) and joint mobilization (JM) for the treatment of chronic neck pain. Their summary concluded that,
“ART and JM (joint mobilization) are both effective for the treatment of patients with chronic neck pain, but ART demonstrated a trend toward greater effectiveness for patients with neck pain involving soft tissue injury. Therefore, ART appears to be a better option for treating patients with chronic neck pain in the clinical setting.”

Neck Pain Relief With ART and Pain and Performance Solutions

When you come to your first appointment, we want to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of discomfort. Getting neck pain relief with ART begins once we understand where and how your pain started. A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have. You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.