Vital Wellness Centre

905 206 8882

1550 S Gateway Rd Unit 123, Mississauga, ON L4W 5G6

Everyday 11AM - 8PM

Vital Wellness Centre

905 206 8882

1550 S Gateway Rd Unit 123, Mississauga, ON L4W 5G6

Everyday 11AM - 8PM

Neck Pain Explained: Remedies, Relief & Exercises

Neck Pain is a debilitating condition that affects many people. From whiplash to radiculopathy, we'll cover what your Neck Pain could mean, what you need to know about your own body and how to relieve it!

Most cases get better on their own within 2 months, however 50% of people will continue to still have neck pain, or have it on & off, One Year after its initial occurrence.

Let's not have you a part of that statistic and get working today!

A Female with Neck Pain
Quite a pain in the neck that neck pain is!

Hey You! Looking for a certain part in the post? Use this table of contents to help guide you to where you want to be!

Table of Contents

Neck Pain isn't Rare.

Neck Pain affects 66% of people at some point in their life

Neck Pain is seriously annoying, but can be debilitating depending on how you specifically acquired it. Based on research studies – a whopping 66% of people will experience some form of neck pain at some point in their life. 

Although, how do we know what’s happening? Is it a joint issue, is it a muscular issue, is it a pinched nerve? 

We can’t fix what we don’t understand, so we’ll have to figure it out together!

Risk Factors for Neck Pain

Some people are more predisposed to having neck pain than others. If any of the following issues or conditions seem familiar to you, take it as a learning curve for when you try to resolve your neck pain!

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Poor Coping Skills
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Obesity 
  • Systemic inflammation 
  • Poor Muscular Strength
  • Kinesiophobia (Fear of moving around)
  • Traumatic Injuries
  • Sports Injuries
  • Occupational Status (Manual labourers, computer workers and health care workers report higher incidences of neck pain)

What does your Neck Pain mean?

Neck Pain can mean a lot of things.

Some people wake up with it, others have been experiencing it for years upon years, and other times, a traumatic accident could occur – leading to serious bouts of distress and discomfort.

There are mainly three forms of Neck Pain, at least when it comes to our classifications.

1. Mechanical

Mechanical means that we’re talking about a disruption to the spine itself, or anything that helps support it – like ligaments, tendons, muscles other forms of connective tissue, etc. If something is wrong with one of these, and only these, we classify it as mechanical neck pain.

2. Neuropathic

Neuropathy refers to pain you feel from problems arising from our nervous system – usually an issue related to our nerve roots. 

Usually a malformation of a bone, a bulged (herniated) disc, or degenerative disc disease (DDD) are occurrences that can explain this.

3. Secondary

This classification relates to you having some condition that happens to have neck pain as a symptom you feel. For example, being systemically inflamed (inflammation of your cells across your entire body) would be a primary cause for your neck pain. 

Your neck pain would be considered secondary to your primary issue – which in this example would be systemic inflammation. 

The Anatomy of Neck Pain.

Here’s some relevant anatomy that you probably need to know about when it comes to your own legs, especially if we want to create a plan of action to tackle this pain and discomfort. 

This will come in handy if the source of your neck pain is mechanical in nature.

These areas are the locations of where the pain tends to be the most problematic.

Erector Spinae Group

Image: Erector Spinae Muscle Group

Source: Complete Anatomy App

The Erector Spinae Muscle Group in the Cervical Spine (The large, longitudinal, thick muscles in the middle). Help keep our necks erect, as in up and straight.

Most of the time, these muscles are left stretched out, in a weakened state, trying to desperately hold our heads as we stare into the void of our phones and other screens. 

Rhomboid Major Muscle

Image: Rhomboid Major

Source: Complete Anatomy App

The Rhomboids are responsible for helping us pull things towards us, like a door, or a person we’re hugging and squeezing. These are the oblique fibers in the middle of the spine in the picture above, that make chevrons facing up.

Meanwhile, the Splenius muscles (Capitus is showing, and the Splenius Cervicis is underneath) help us move our head around – extending, rotating and side bending!

Image: Upper Trapezius 

Source: Complete Anatomy App

The Trapezius (The diamond shaped muscle with a  the largest surface area of all the muscles in the upper back, and also an area with an irregular amount of trigger points – that can definitely contribute to both headaches and neck pain!

We have the SCM or Sternocleidomastoid which is a set of muscles that help us do all sorts of things with our neck. It’s the thick muscle on the side of the head that goes into the front – with its attachments at Sternum, Clavicle, and Mastoid Process!

Next off we have the Levator Scapula – a problematic muscle that needs to swirl and swirl its fibres around to do its job, unfortunately limiting its perfusion a little bit. This can usually lead to a few more muscle knots in this area, especially close to its scapular attachment, at the upper, inner border. 

Lastly the scalene muscles (3 in total). 

So where do you feel your Neck Pain? Noting this will help you and your health care practitioner isolate what’s really happening in your body!

Treatment, Remedies & Relief.

Here’s a list of treatments that have been done in past experiment for neck pain. 

Treatment Outcome
Strengthening Exercises
Moderate to Large Effect
Endurance Training
Small Effect
Stabilisation Exercises
Small Effect
Advice & Education
Little to No Effect
Stretching (Neck & Shoulder)
Small Effect
Eye & Neck Coordination & Proprioception
Small Effect
Qigong
Small Effect
Yoga
Moderate Effect
General Exercise
Little to No Effect
Psychological Treatments
Small Effect
Exercise & Manual Therapy
Moderate to Large Effect

So what works best?

Exercises, stretches, treatments, interventions, drugs, etc. These are all things we can utilize for any type of pain really – but what works the best? 

In my humble opinion it can be a futile effort to try and figure that out – firstly we have to understand everyone’s different, what works for one person may not for the other for reasons unbeknownst to anyone really.

Next, why bother finding a single treatment, modality or intervention that works, when you can pull benefits from each type of one and mash them up into an individualized treatment made specifically for yourself!

Just massage will rarely work – it’s a daring statement coming from a Massage Therapist – but the same would be for only focusing on exercise, or only focusing on stretching and mobility – Balance is key! 

Which is why we’ll be covering videos on strengthening, mobility, stability and massage to help create a more reasonable and balanced set of content that you and others can indulge on to help you on your health & wellness journey!

Red Flags when you have Pain in your Neck!

Before continuing on – You need to read through these potential Red Flags if you or someone you know is experiencing Neck Pain.

It is VITAL that you reach out to a health care practitioner (Like a Medical Doctor) immediately if you think any of these apply to you, especially if you’re experiencing those Signs & Symptoms.

Don’t read through the rest of this article and get help ASAP if any of these apply to you and your Neck Pain!

Red Flag Conditions Signs & Symptoms
Trauma (Car Accident, Falling, Whiplash)
Vertebral fractures, spinal cord injury, ligament injury
Loss of consciousness (in an out of it) cognitive deficit, traumatic brain injury, headaches, neurologic symptoms (numbness, tingling-like pains).
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Down Syndrome Spondylarthropathy
Atlantoaxial subluxation (A slight dislocation of the 1st and 2nd Cervical Vertebra)
Easily Tired, Walking issues, Limited Neck mobility, Clumsiness Spasticity, Issues with feeling (Sensory issues).
Constitution
Metastases (cancer cells), infectious process, systemic rheumatologic diseases
Weight Loss, Unexplained Fevers, Anorexia, family or personal history of Malignant neoplasm (Cancer), Spreading joint pain & stiffness
Infections
Epidural abscess, spondylodiskitis, meningitis
Fever, Neck Stiffness, Photophobia (Light sensitivity), Elevated White Blood Cell Counts
Upper Motor Neuron Lesion
Spinal cord compression, demyelinating disease (Multiple Sclerosis
Sexual Dysfunction, Incontinence, Spasticity. Hyperreflexia
Younger than 20 Years Old?
Congenital abnormalities & Drug Abuse
Birth marks, Overlying Skin Tags, Patches of hair, Systemic Disease (Diabetes, Epilepsy, Etc.)
Chest Pain & Shortness of Breath
Myocardial ischemia or infarction (Heart Attack)
Nausea, extension of pain into left arm (especially inside of upper arm)
Older than 50 Years Old?
Metastases, vertebral fracture, carotid or vertebral artery dissection/bleeding (URGENT).
History of Malignant Cancers, Previous Traumas. Artery Bleeding: Tearing Sensation, Visual Loss, Headache, Neurologic Symptoms

Table Adapted from “Table 2: What Not to Miss: “Red Flags” Associated With Neck Pain”. Cohen SP. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of neck pain. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015 Feb;90(2):284-99.

None of these seem applicable? Great to hear! I was starting to get worried! Let’s get started!

*Disclaimer*

It’s always a good idea to check in with your health care professional to make sure that you’re safe to perform these exercises so that you don’t hurt yourself and/or neglect yourself of care that you could be getting in-person. What we discuss in the entirety of this post isn’t a substitute for medical advice – and is for educational purposes only! 

Mobility Exercises

Make sure that you’re moving more frequently throughout the day – lots of people like to shove all their exercises into one hour a day when trying to recover or change their lifestyle – but it doesn’t help if the rest of the day you’re lounging around! 

It’s much more effective if you’re moving out and about every now and then, rather than doing nothing for the most of the day, then going HAM when working for a short burst. 

All in all you’ll be spending more of the day sedentary that way, with little to no breaks from that lack of movement. 

This is especially important in this unprecedented time of COVID-19’s appearance and obvious effects on our day-to-day work life. 

Home offices make it much easier to be comfortable in – but also negatively impacts our needs to maintain movement! 

Remember that movement is medicine!

Strengthening Exercises

Neck Strengthening isn’t something we usually focus on for our everyday person!

Usually it’s MMA fighters and bodybuilders that really focus on building up the muscles of the neck – either for function or aesthetic!

However, it’s important for us everyday people to be strengthening our neck muscles as well!

Most of the time, we’re stuck glued to a screen, or generally just in a position where we’re not really moving, this makes certain muscles work overtime, and gives others way too much slack, to the point where they probably don’t know how to do their job!

To counter this, we have to spend time out of our day, no matter how little, to work these lazy muscles out!

1. Chin tucks

2. Resisted Chin Tucks

3. Isometric Neck Holds

4. Neck Thrusts

Have fun with these exercises, but be wary as if you haven’t exercised them in this way before, it can be easy to injure yourself, and neck injuries definitely hurt!

Massage for Neck Pain

Massaging yourself can be difficult and a little bit annoying – but sometimes it can really do the trick, especially if the problem is a muscle knot or trigger point! 

Use your fingers to try and massage your sore spots – if you have a recovery ball you can use this to help as well!

Need a little help?

Let’s say that doing it yourself doesn’t really work – that’s fine! Sometimes a little help will come along the way. You can always see a health care professional, wherever you are, and whether or not that’s a Registered Massage Therapist is up to you!

However, if you’re looking to have treatment with a health care professional about a pain problem or functional issue you have, and happen to live in the Greater Toronto Area, specifically Mississauga. You’re always welcome to come see me in person! You can book online with a click of a button!

Book an Appointment!

Your health is vital to us. Come meet us in person and see what pain problems we can help solve with you.
Richard Lam

Richard Lam

Richard is the owner of Vital Wellness centre and practices as a registered massage therapist with a specialty in therapeutic massage, utilizing techniques including manual therapy, contemporary medical acupuncture and PDTR.

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