Neck Pain Case studies
Over the past 20 years as a physiotherapist, I've helped thousands of people recover from a wide variety of neck pain issues.
By the time he came to see me, 48-year-old former Army officer David had had problems with his neck for nearly 3 years. Visiting me for the first time, he explained that I was the latest in a long line of chiropractors, physios, osteopaths and surgeons to examine him. He’d received several injections of steroids into his discs and facet joints, and undergone lots of manipulation. His latest MRI scans showed inflammation around two discs, and five inflamed facet joints; and David was worried that he was facing surgery, which he desperately didn’t want.
David couldn’t look over his right shoulder, and when he tried to do so, everything went a bit haywire! His upper cervical vertebrae shifted one way, his lower vertebrae the other way, and his first rib was stuck in elevation. His upper trapezius muscles were overdeveloped, and lower trapezius underdeveloped.
I quickly realised that the biggest issues were at David’s C2 (the top of the neck, just under the skull) and his first rib (by the shoulder and collarbone). The rest of his neck was getting compressed and corkscrewed between these two bones which were moving poorly, due to an overactive anterior scalene muscle (which links your upper neck to your collarbone).
Over the course of a few treatment sessions, David progressed from his C2 in place with one hand while consciously relaxing his scalenes, to moving while mindfully “floating” his head over his shoulders. Gradually we retrained his lower trapezius muscles so that his shoulder movement improved and he became able to move his shoulder without moving his neck, and vice versa – and within three months, David was able to return to his usual training (but with the new “cues” of “float your head and activate your lower trapezius” before each set of exercises).