Hidden Sources of Neck Pain

By: Dr. St Jean

Neck pain is a fairly common complaint.  Today, we are going to talk about some of the hidden sources of neck pain which are often overlooked.  We are going to talk about how tight scalenes, forward head posture, gallbladder issues, and improper sleeping postures can actually cause neck pain and what you can do about them.
I am going to let you in a little secret here and it is pretty straight forward.  It is impossible to render effective treatment if you do not have the the right diagnosis.  That is one of the main purposes of this video.  I want to show you some of the most overlooked causes of neck pain.

Tight Scalenes

The first one we are going to talk about is tight scalenes.  You have three different scalenes on either side of your neck.  Your anterior, your medial, and your posterior scalenes.  Let us talk about how you can stretch them so you can relieve neck pain.

Anterior Scalene Stretch

So the first scalene muscle I am going to show you how to stretch is your anterior scalene.  The first thing you are going to make sure is to stand upright or st upright and bend your head to the opposite side of that you are stretching.  For example, I am stretching my left anterior scalene.  First thing is hand on top of the head, bend head to the opposite side and then rotate head to the opposite head and a little bit up so you are looking upward. Just like that and boom, you will stretch right the anterior scalene.  Feels great, super effective.

Medial Scalene Stretch

Now, let us do the medial scalene stretch.  This stretch is the easiest of them all.  All you have to do here is, again, stand or sit in an upright position. and bend your head to the opposite side.  Pretty simple.  Hand on top of the head and bend head to the left to stretch the right medial scalene.  Simple as that, extremely great stretch.
Awesome!  You just learn the medial scalene stretch.  Now we are going to do the posterior scalene stretch.  In this one, again, you are going to be seated or standing upright and you are going to bend your head to the opposite side that you are stretching.  So if I am stretching my posterior right scalene, I am going to bend my head to the left.  The next thing I am going to do is rotate my head downwards and away from the scalene I am stretching and boom, right there, I can feel a great stretch.  Very easy, can do in the comfort of your own home.

Forward Head Posture

Great!  So you just learn how to stretch the scalenes.  Now, we are going to get into the second hidden cause of neck pain which is forward head posture.  Forward head posture is extremely common.  I would say almost every patient come into our facility is going to have this to some degree.  It is a common modern postural issue, right?
In forward head posture, there are certain muscles that are tight, there are certain muscles that are weak, and the results in this where the ears starts protruding pass the shoulder joint and you have this excessive curve here in the posterior spine.  That puts a lot of stress on certain structures and can cause neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, etc.  So really important we address this.  What causes it?  Well, think about it, anytime you are in a laptop, iPhone, maybe you are sitting at your desk like this, all of those aggravate forward head posture.  One of the best exercises you can do for it is chin tucks.

Chin Tucks

Let’s check out chin tucks.  For this one, I have to get pretty close to the camera so bare with me.  Chin tucks is one of my favorite exercises.  Why?  Because it is so effective.  It hits the deep cervical flexors which are often inhibited and need to be activated.  This is a really potent exercise to start reversing forward head posture and then of course neck pain.  What you are going to do is this.  You are going to pretend that your chin is resting on a table.  The reason why I wanted you to resting on a table is so that you are not flexing or extending during this exercise.  So your chin is resting on a table.  You are going to take this two fingers, put it on the tip of your chin and you are going to basically just push your chin back like this making a double chin.  Here to here.  Here to here.  Simple as that, really easy, really effective exercise, can do anywhere.

Gallbladder Issues

Okay, so now you know that tight scalenes and forward head posture can definitely cause neck pain and you have some solutions for overcoming that, but what about gallbladder issues?  How do gallbladder issues relate to neck pain.  Specifically, it only affects right-sided neck pain.  So if you have left-sided neck pain.  This is not pertinent to you.  Now, the gallbladder sits around the area of the liver and there are ducts inside the gallbladder and when they become sluggish, this can irritate a nerve called the phrenic which runs in around that area.  The phrenic nerve also runs up into this area in the right neck.  So that is where you get that neck pain on the right side being replicated because of the underlying gallbladder issues.  So what you do about it.  In many cases, a great alternative is acupressure.  Another one is natural gallbladder flushes.  I have another website where I do functional medicine on the phone with patients all throughout the country and I have an awesome video on natural gallbladder flushes, you can check it out at drstjean.com.

Sleeping Positions

Okay, great, now you know a solution to gallbladder issues and how it can actually potentially cause right-sided neck pain.  What about sleeping positions?  This is all too often overlooked.  Something as simple as sleeping on your stomach can definitely cause neck pain.  If you think about it, when you are sleeping on your stomach.  You can put your face straight on the pillow, you will not be able to breathe, so naturally have to twist your head to the left or right and when you do this, with the pillow, or even just with the bed, you are putting those joints in end range which can really cause some massive irritation especially when you are sleeping for a 7, 8, 9 or 10 hours a night.  It is a long time to be like this, right?
Another thing would be, I see patients do this all the time where they have their favorite pillow, right?  But the pillow might be too big and it is not allowing the head to rest in the proper position or may be just stacking too many pillows.  A lot of patients will stack 2 or 3 pillows at night just to get to sleep.  I understand that if you have allergies or if you have GERD or some other reason, but is that is the case then you have to figure our what is causing the allergies and what is causing the GERD so that you can figure out what is causing the neck pain, right?  Ideally, one pillow or a cervical pillow is your best bet.

Final Notes

Okay guys, there you have it.  The four potential hidden sources of your neck pain.  This is Dr. St Jean from thechicagochiropractor.com if you want more great information about neck and how you can relieve it, check our video blog and our articles on our website below by clicking there.  Or if you want to work with me, one-on-one, and get to the root cause of your neck pain, click the schedule a consult button now.
This is Dr. St Jean, have a great day!
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