The Pain in Our Necks

The Pain in Our Necks

by evergreenpt, July 20, 2018

We’ve all heard the phrase, “pain in the neck”.  It can describe anything (or anyone) from that barely working computer you’ve been meaning to replace or the nosy neighbor next door. However you may have come across it, the idiom’s prevalence proves that neck pain is an unfortunately common, but relatable human experience.


Neck pain and whiplash injuries are one of the major complaints amongst our patients. In many cases, neck pain can lead to persistent headaches, chronic pain, and drastically lowered quality of life.  Common causes can include poor posture, strenuous physical activity, trauma, and even stress.  Though the causes might be plain to see, the way to correcting the problem is not always that easy to grasp.


Research by Gwendolen Jull PT, PhD (a Professor of Physiotherapy, Director of the NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, The University of Queensland, Australia) has long established “that patients with neck pain disorders, compared to controls, have an altered neuromotor control strategy during craniocervical flexion characterized by reduced activity in the deep cervical flexors and increased activity in the superficial flexors usually accompanied by altered movement strategies.


We see this altered neuromotor control impairments that Jull speaks of in patients who come to our clinic. We also see the compensation strategies.  Often an impairment of deep neck flexor muscle control is noted in the CCFT (Craniocervical flexion test) and is a key finding for reducing neck pain, chronic headaches, and even the complex whiplash associated disorders.


Recognizing the compensations and contributing factors can be difficult, but when they are identified and correctly treated, then the results speak for themselves.



Movement trained Physical Therapists, like the ones at Evergreen,  can ‘catch with the eye’, very subtle compensations strategies and agree on points of failure in the deep neck flexors during this test. This is important. Precision matters, because the lack of it indicates an impairment that may explain persistence and lack of resolution.


Taking research like this and applying a specific skillset not found in every Physical Therapy clinic, has helped our patients make drastic improvements.  The following is a glowing testimonial from one of our recent patients. (Thanks for  sharing, Mary!)
“In May 2016, while in my car, I was hit twice by a speeding drunk driver. Immediately I felt pain in my neck and within hours I felt pain in my ribs. The pain was constant and simple things such as standing were difficult to do. I started physical therapy shortly after the accident, focusing mostly on strengthening and resistance training. Though I made some progress and was able to walk with more endurance, I still had trouble turning from side to side, sitting or standing for an extended amount of time, carrying any weight, and was in constant pain from my neck to my lower back. I continued treatment for over a year between the US and UK, with slow progress across three physical therapists. Just when I was worried I would have to live with my neck and back pain for good, a former Evergreen patient recommended Dave.Immediately, I noticed a difference between the techniques Evergreen used compared to other physical therapists. Dave was able to pinpoint the source of the pain the first time I saw him, and we began working from there. I made much quicker progress and after a few treatments I could do normal, everyday activities without daily pain. I can sit, stand, and walk for longer amounts of time without pain, and can now carry more weight without being in a lot of pain afterwards. My neck and back have increased range of motion, and each Evergreen visit builds on these improvements. I am so thankful for Dave and the wonderful staff at Evergreen.   It feels great to start feeling human again!”  ~ Mary C


If you or someone you know is currently experiencing neck pain or pain from a past or present whiplash injury call today to set up an appointment! (626) 683-8536

We exist to change health care locally for those wishing to get back to normal (or feel human again) naturally….


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