Hi, there, Dr. Mumma here, and today we’re going to talk about neck pain. So a lot of my patients here in Raleigh are suffering from neck pain, which is why they come to see me. What I find with a lot of these patients is that most of their pain is typically disc related, but the underlying factors that have caused the irritation in the disc come from more movement faults.
So one of the problems that we run into is that a lot of people are missing movement in their cervical thoracic junction, so right where your neck meets the top of your back. And if this is a problem area for you, most likely what’s going to happen is that your neck will start to get kind of stiff and then eventually the discs get irritated, and then that can cause pain, not only neck pain, but also into the shoulders and even down into the arms and hands.
So to avoid stuff like this, I like to retrain patients in how to properly move their neck. So in past videos and in my blog, I’ve talked about the importance of posture. So obviously how you hold yourself is really important and is actually going to kind of prevent you from getting movement in the wrong area. But there are also some easy little exercises that you can do to kind of maintain what is a neutral spine, as opposed to an unnatural position. So not just working on posture, but also working on how to move.
So what I’m going to do is demonstrate some tummy time. So if you have young kinds, a few months old, you definitely want to have them on their stomach. I know that the problem is that they cry a lot because they hate being on their stomach because they can’t see anything. But what that forces them to do is actually activate their neck muscles and kind of form the natural curves of their spine, so that they can push themselves into this upright position.
So if we’re going to work on this, what we want is a nice wide base of the elbows. So my arms are further than shoulder width apart. I have the weight kind of on this bony prominence here, and my hands are just together in the middle. And what I want to do is look directly below my thumbs. So if I’m looking up or I’m looking down too far, this isn’t going to work. What I’m going for is getting good movement through my CT junction, my cervical thoracic junction, again, where you neck meets the top of your back. So by looking straight down, I’m already kind of creating a neutral head position. You can kind of see this is how a baby would then learn to look around.
What we tend to do is let our shoulders sink, and then just move with our neck. What babies do is push themselves up, and then as they move their neck, they’re actually moving all the way through their thoracic spine. So that’s what we kind of want to get back to.
So a good exercise that you can be doing, it’s kind of hard to do this on your own. You might want to have a partner or friend watch you as you’re doing this. But you’re looking straight down, and then you’re going to just slowly turn your head and pretend that you’re turning it around a swivel in the middle of your head. I don’t want to turn my neck. I don’t want to drop my head at all. I’m looking straight down below my thumbs, and I’m going to turn my head around the axis point of the middle of my head, going straight down through my spine, and I’m going to look to the right. And so what you should be feeling is that you’re getting movement all the way through T4, specifically, your fourth thoracic vertebrae.
So if you can’t get that movement, it’s not surprising. A lot of people cannot move through the top of their thoracic spine, but it’s a good thing to start working on to kind of alleviate some neck pain or even prevent future neck pain.
So if neck pain is something that you suffer from, I would definitely see a chiropractor. If you’re in Raleigh, I would see me. But if it’s something that you don’t suffer from, but maybe you’re kind of concerned about, maybe you’re getting a little bit of shoulder tightness whenever you do overhead movements, these are some good things to be thinking about as you’re trying to rehabilitate yourself.
So neck pain, take care of it. Get yourself in a better functional movement state, and good luck. Thanks.