Achy Neck and Shoulder Pain?

So are you ever in front of a computer?

Like most of us, you are probably sitting in front of a computer at least part of the day.  If not a computer, maybe a tablet or a phone (these are even worse since you probably aren’t in an ergonomically designed set  up for this).  If so, you probably have had some achy neck and shoulder pain in your time…

You know that achy bit of flesh between your neck and shoulders that you get people to rub?  That’s what most people mean when they come in to my clinic complaining of this so that is what a am going to talk about here.

Massage my neck please!

So that bit of muscle is made up of several muscles but the biggest one is called the Trapezius.  Usually, in my opinion, this isn’t the actual pain generator for this type of achy neck and shoulder pain.  I think in most people it’s another muscle called the levator scapula (but really who cares – it hurts so fix it …. right?)

If you have had this, I’m betting the first thing you did was rub it yourself, or get someone else to rub it for you. Right?

This makes sense because massage can help work out tired sore muscles and trigger points (aka knots).  These may have developed because of a period of overuse like sitting at the computer for a project for hours.

Been there right?

But it comes back…. so why?


Here is my perspective:

From my perspective as a chiropractor over use certainly plays a huge role, as does posture.  Staring at a computer or device for hours puts strain on our muscles AND joints.

At some point the muscles become overtired and can no longer protect the underlying joints.  The strain and stresses transfered to the joints begin an inflammatory cascade in the joint to add to that which is already going on in the muscle.

Inflammation bad.

It chemically irritates the joints and muscles further and then you get a decrease in range of motion of the joint and muscle as it is trying to protect itself further.  There is also inflammation in there.

Inflammation in the joint means there is more fluid in there.  This gets in the way of range of motion.  Think about surrounding your body in a thick snow suit and trying to bend your joints… same idea but inside the joint itself.

Ok so what can we do about it?

Again, my perspective as a chiropractor focuses on restoring normal range of motion to the joints.  When we do that the inflammatory response decreases and the pain dissipates…

We do that in my clinic in three ways

  1. Relax the muscle using muscle techniques
  2. Treat the fascia for adhesions (we will talk about that in a different blog)
  3. adjust the joint using various techniques

People respond to this type of treatment amazingly well – In fact in a poll in the USA recently conducted by Gallup 95% of past year users of chiropractic care said it is effective… that’s a pretty big number.  (97% of past year chiropractic patients said they were likely to see a chiropractor if they have neck or back pain – so I’m not sure what happened to the other two percent…)