When discussing any type of neck problem we also need to review the relationship that the cervical spine has with the other joints in the body, particularly the shoulder region. It is common when a patient presents with neck pain to discover a history that includes pain or injury of the shoulder.
The shoulder is an extremely mobile area that allows us to reach up over head, push, pull, and carry. To accomplish these motions the shoulder also has a complex system of muscles to protect and stabilize the region. It is very common for muscle tightness and abnormal movement to develop in the shoulder and shoulder blade. Even in cases where there no specific symptoms in the shoulder itself, any amount of shoulder dysfunction can have a tremendous impact on the neck. This occurs because many shoulder muscles, particularly the muscles of the shoulder blade, actually cross the joints of the neck and insert onto the cervical spine and back of the head. When these muscles become tight it will in turn compromise the normal health and movement of the neck, leading to neck pain. In many neck conditions, in addition to treating the neck itself, correcting the tightness and dysfunction in the shoulder muscles is also required for a permanent solution.
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