Neck Pain

Massage, My Friend, and Cancer

Posted on: Thu, 02/02/2017 - 10:43pm By: Alice

My friend recently died of breast cancer. She was an amazing woman who lived fully until the end. Everyone who knew her loved her, she made everyone feel special. I hadn't known her all that long or even that well but she had an impact on my life out of proportion to our time spent together. When her cancer recurred, I wanted to do whatever I could to help. One of the things I was able to offer was massage.

Our first massage was a general full body relaxation massage. She loved it. She had been having trouble sleeping and it left her feeling so relaxed that she felt as if she could fall asleep. I told her I would come and give her massage whenever she wanted. She stayed pretty busy in spite of the illness and so several weeks passed before I gave her massage again.

Gentle Treatment for TMJ Dysfunction

Posted on: Sun, 09/15/2013 - 3:28pm By: Alice

When people say, “I have TMJ,” they usually mean that they have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, a condition that can cause jaw pain that can be difficult to treat. Chewing may be painful and it can lead to headaches and neck, shoulder, and upper back pain. They may experience popping, clicking, and shifting when they open and close their jaw and their mouth may even get stuck in an open position if they yawn or open their mouth too far.

Book Review: Explain Pain by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley

Posted on: Tue, 05/07/2013 - 1:58am By: Alice

If I could make only one recommendation to individuals living with chronic pain, it would be to read the book Explain Pain by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley.

Directed at both clinicians who work with chronic pain patients and patients who live with chronic pain, Explain Pain shows how the discoveries of modern pain science can be put to practical use. Written in understandable language with a touch of lighthearted humor, Butler and Moseley take a complex subject and make it possible for the average person to understand and use. One client remarked that she thought it would be hard to read and was delighted that she did not find it difficult at all. 

A Gentle Approach to Alleviating Neck Pain

Posted on: Fri, 05/11/2012 - 8:49pm By: Alice

Recently an older, somewhat frail woman came into my office. She has a serious condition that requires ongoing treatment and the primary condition creates numerous other serious health problems. In spite of this, she maintains a cheerful disposition and endures it all with acceptance.

A dear friend of hers thought that she might like a soothing massage and sent her to me, trusting that my experience and training would allow for both a pleasant and safe experience. The client consulted with her doctor about what would be permissible and what should be avoided and had his consent to have gentle massage.

Besides her complicated and generally frail condition, the client had osteoporosis and had suffered several broken bones as a result. Clearly, this was someone who needed to be handled very gently.

And she had neck pain.

Self-Help for the Neck Through Novel Movements

Posted on: Thu, 09/08/2011 - 1:10am By: Alice

While low back pain may be one of the most common complaints seen by doctors, neck and upper back/shoulder pain is the most common complaint seen in my office. So many people spend their days sitting in front of a computer, head forward and motionless for hours at a time, it seems inevitable that eventually the neck and upper back are going to begin to  protest. I encourage clients to get up and move as often as possible and especially to move in directions that are different from or opposite to the direction in which they've held themselves for extended periods. The body wants to move and likes variety of movement.

A Reader Asks About Sitting At The Computer

Posted on: Wed, 02/09/2011 - 2:28pm By: Alice

A reader asks:

Will sitting at a computer all day and leaning to one side cause poor posture and ultimately pain?  Linda 

Absolutely! A large percentage of my clients have postural and pain problems caused or aggravated by sitting in front of the computer for long hours. This bane of modern life can lead to lower back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and pain in the arms, including carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Sitting itself can cause poor posture when it is done repeatedly for long hours. When we sit, the curve in our lower back tends to flatten our and this forces the head forward. Head forward posture is a very common problem in our sedentary society. When the head is moved forward, it's tendency is to look down. However, we don't usually want to look at the floor so we tilt the head upward. This creates a state of chronic tension in the muscles at the base of the skull. One way to minimize this problem is to use a small pillow to support and maintain the curve of the low back.

A Reader's Question: Stiff Neck

Posted on: Thu, 10/30/2008 - 9:26pm By: Alice

A reader asks:

"I am not sure where to post my question. I am attending a massage school and have a student therapist. I generally have stiffness around my neck from sitting at a computer all week. What should I ask my student therapist to do to release the tension from my neck and shoulder area?"

Thanks for asking your question! And yes, you posted it in exactly the right place.

I'll do my best to answer specifically what your student therapist can do to help your neck. I'll also include some suggestions of things you can do to help minimize the strain on your neck outside of the massage room.

First, you have to understand that a student is a beginner and is not going to have the skills that a more experienced therapist may have. Their palpatory skills are not going to be as well developed yet. In addition, there are advanced techniques that should only be taught to experienced therapists. However, there are still things a student therapist can do to help a person with a stiff neck.

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