Expert chiropractic adjustments to treat neck pain in Los Gatos.

There are many factors that can cause neck pain. Pain in the neck can come on suddenly from an accident or sometimes we can just wake up with it. Other times it starts with chronic daily neck and upper back muscle tightness, stiffness, and achy pain. At Positive Motion Chiropractic in Los Gatos we have experience helping patients with the following types of neck pain:

  • Whiplash
  • Cervical arthritis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Neck pain due to poor posture
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Neck pain due to bad ergonomics
  • Herniated cervical discs
  • Sports injuries
  • Joint sprains
  • Pulled muscles

Neck pain many times is due to poor posture and bad ergonomics. How we use our phones can even cause neck tightness and pain, a condition referred to as “text-neck.” To determine the cause of your neck tightness and pain it is important first to understand more about the structures in your neck.

For many cases of neck pain there are effective non-drug and non-surgical approaches to stop the pain and resume normal activities. Fortunately, neck pain solutions that address the underlying cause of the pain and work to restore normal function and motion have longer lasting results. Since 2004 our expert chiropractor has been determining the root cause of patients neck pain and working to restore balance to the joints and muscles in the neck.

Neck Bones Are Called Vertebra

The human neck consists of seven cervical vertebra. Vertebra is the name given to the individual bones of your spine. Your cervical vertebra are numbered with “C” for cervical and a number from 1-7. C1 is your top most vertebra and your skull (occiput bone) rests on top of C1. C2 is directly below C1, and so on.

Cervical Discs and Degenerative Disc Disease

In-between your seven cervical vertebra are the cervical discs. These cervical discs have a ligamentous exterior and a jelly-like center. As we age the intervertebral discs in our neck can become thinner and sometimes herniate or bulge. Poor posture, bad ergonomics, and injuries like whiplash from a motor vehicle accident accelerate these disc problems.

As a cervical disc loses height we call that condition degenerative disc disease (DDD). Loss of disc height can lead to pressure on the cervical nerves that bring muscle strength and perception of sensation to and from your neck, upper back, arms, and hands. There are also other causes of pressure on the nerves in the neck.

Separate from degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine, people can develop a disc bulge, sometimes called a protrusion, extrusion, or herniated disc. Prolonged poor posture causes improper loading of the structures in the neck and leads to disc problems.

Learning how to improve posture and your everyday ergonomics is vital to helping heal disc bulges but also in keeping them from returning.

Poor Posture Hurts Your Neck And Your Head

The adult human head rests on top of your neck and weighs roughly 10 pounds, similar to a bowling ball. The bones of the cervical spine (vertebral bodies) are meant to effortlessly carry the weight of the head. But many times a person’s forward head posture causes the muscles and joints of the neck to become overly loaded and strained.

People usually recognize this improper use of the neck as tension building up in the neck muscles and base of the skull. Many times this tension will gets worse as work and the day progress. This neck tension can also lead to “tension headaches” and sometimes migraine headaches.

Many cases of neck pain come on gradually. Someone who is prematurely wearing out their neck will frequently say something like “I always hold my stress and tension in my neck and shoulders.” Many people think it is normal to always feel like they need a neck and shoulder massage. And while a massage may feel good, that constant muscle activation and soreness at your neck is a sign that those muscles are overworking.

This chronic cervical muscle tension (muscles overworking) is most often caused by poor posture and/or ergonomics. Spending long hours on a laptop or a workstation can lead to anterior head carriage or forward head posture which is not only unattractive, but biomechanically it hastens degenerative changes in the cervical vertebra.

These degenerative changes show up over time as cervical spine arthritis (aka osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis, or degenerative joint disease). Poor posture can also speed up degenerative changes in the cervical discs which can give rise to degenerative disc disease, disc bulges/herniations, pinched nerves and ultimately cervical radiculopathy.

Cervical radiculopathy is pressure applied to the spinal nerves exiting the spinal cord and can cause lose of strength and sensation in the arms and hands. This pressure on the spinal nerves can be from a disc bulge or herniation, cervical arthritis, or thinning of the cervical discs.

Waking Up With Severe Neck Pain

The joints in the neck are called facet joints. There are two on each vertebra. In the neck they are roughly the size of a pencil eraser. These facet joints can become fixated or stuck and cause sharp pain and muscle guarding.

Many times we will see this acute neck pain when someone just wakes up with severe neck pain after falling asleep feeling fine. It can be very difficult to turn or lean the neck to one side, almost feeling like someone is pushing a knife into a specific area in their neck.

Classically, a person with “stuck” or “locked up” facet joints will end up turning their whole body when they need to look a certain direction versus simply turning their neck, because of the acute pain in their neck. The clinical term for this type of acute neck pain is mensicoid entrapment and it responds incredibly well to chiropractic adjustments.

Our experience at Positive Motion Chiropractic with neck pain caused by meniscoid entrapment is immediately after a chiropractic adjustment most patients have 50% improvement in their range of motion and their pain is reduced substaintially. The remaining limitations in cervical range of motion and residual pain usually fade over the next 24-48 hours as inflammation around the joint subsides and the localized muscles go back to their normal tone.

A Pain In The Neck: Cervical Muscle Strains

Cervical muscle strains are another cause of acute neck pain. We see this with sports injuries, like a whiplash caused by a sudden fall snowboarding, a hard hit in soccer, or even when playing tennis or golf without warming up. Muscle strains in the neck initially worsen over time as the tissues become inflamed, stiff, and painful to move.

Fortunately, muscle strains will slowly get better over time, although in some people the pain and limited range of motion linger. There are things you can do to speed up that healing rate. The sports chiropractors at Positive Motion Chiropractic in Los Gatos work with many professional and weekend warrior athletes and muscle strains are a common injury we treat. Our expert chiropractors use chiropractic neck adjustments and muscle work, like Graston technique, to get our patients back to feeling 100% and enjoying their sport.

Treatment Options for Neck Pain

There are many methods for treating neck pain. At Positive Motion Chiropractic we believe that the most elegant solution is always the one that is simple, addresses the root cause, and is the least invasive.

Many people take drugs, get injections, and have surgery to deal with neck pain. These options come with great costs and risks. However, in some cases medications (ex: oral steroids, anti-inflammatories, pain medications), epidural steroid injections, and cervical spinal surgeries (ex: cervical discectomy, cervical laminectomy or foraminotomy, cervical disc replacement, and posterior cervical fusion) are the most appropriate treatment. At Positive Motion Chiropractic we believe in utilizing these options only in emergencies or after trying more conservative alternatives that have failed to produce results.

At Positive Motion Chiropractic our treatment approach is simple and effective:

  1. Correct the underlying joint and/or muscle imbalances.
  2. Speed up tissue healing and reduce inflammation to give accelerated pain relief.
  3. Teach the patient how to reduce the chance of recurrence.

Utilizing this framework we provide rapid pain relief, fundamental joint and muscle changes to correct the root cause, and also help the patient avoid having to keep returning for care.

Here are some of the techniques and tools we use when we treat our professional and Olympic athlete patients. Guess what? They are the same techniques and tools we use with every one of our patients. (follow the links below to learn more about each type of treatment)

Chiropractic adjustments

There are 210 bones in the human body and in-between them are joints. Just like the hinges on a door can get rusty and stuck, the same thing can happen with your joints (no, they don’t rust). When your joints become fixated and lose proper motion they become stiff, inflamed, and painful.

A chiropractic adjustment helps to restore normal motion back to your joints. There are many different ways to perform a chiropractic adjustment, including by hand and using an instrument called an Activator. Chiropractic adjustments utilizing an instrument don’t involve “cracking sounds” or twisting of the body.

Myofascial therapy, Graston, Fascial Distortion Model (FDM)

Muscle stabilize and move the bones of your body. Fascia, or myofascia, encases your muscles in a thin, yet tough covering. This slippery covering allows muscles, tendons, nerves, and other structures in your body to effortlessly glide over and past each other. But through trauma, repetitive motion injuries, and postural stresses, these fascial layers can become stuck to each other through adhesions (think microscopic scar tissue).

Without addressing these myofascial adhesions the movement restrictions and pain come back shortly after getting a chiropractic adjustment or massage. But by working on and getting rid of these myofascial adhesions we are able to restore normal motion and help create lasting improvement in a patient’s function.

We utilize various myofascial techniques, including Graston technique (an form of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization or IASTM), FDM (Fascial Distortion Model) and cupping (static or with motion). These soft tissue therapies when directed at the right body tissues combined with specific chiropractic adjustments are core to the results we consistently see at Positive Motion Chiropractic.

Cold Laser Therapy

“I have a big presentation at work on Friday and I can’t have my neck feeling like this.” “My family has a big ski vacation in two weeks and my neck is causing me so much pain I can’t even sleep at night!”

When patients need every chance to get back to 100% ASAP we have another tool at our disposal. We utilizes cold laser to help speed up metabolic rate, decrease inflammation, and help control pain levels. Athletes who don’t have any time to waste in getting back to 100% frequently use cold laser therapy in their treatment protocols.

Cold laser treatment is painless, takes around fifteen minutes per session, and is a great adjunct to chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue therapies like Graston.

Targeted Rehab Exercises

A specific single muscle can be weak leading to imbalance and pain. It is rarely a large muscle group that we would think of working out at the gym (ex: quadriceps or biceps). Rather it is usually a stabilizing or balance muscle which is often overlooked. But weakness in a vital muscle can have devastating effects on posture, joint function, and balance.

At Positive Motion Chiropractic we don’t give our patients a page of generalized neck exercises. Who has the time for 30-60 minutes of home exercises per day? Instead, through our detailed and personalized assessment we determine if the patient has a specific muscle weakness and design a customized, targeted rehabilitation program for those individual weaknesses. Translation: tangible decrease in pain and physical limitations with minimal investment of time and effort.

Kinesiology Tape

Most people have seen a professional athlete sporting some colorful tape over a body part. Professional and Olympic athletes have been using Kinesio Tape or Rock Tape for years. In the last few years we have seen more recreational and non-athletes using Kinesio Tape.

Kinesio Tape has three main functions:

  1. Decreases localized inflammation
  2. Helps reduce pain
  3. Aids in the correction of motion patterns

We apply the Kinesio Tape on the patient during treatment, but also teach them or a family member how to use the tape so they can use it at home. Teach a person to fish…

Postural Correction

What you do regularly has a very real impact on how your body functions and feels. If you regularly slouch and collapse into poor postures over time your body will lose function and hurt.

We all know good posture is important, but most people have been told two myths about correcting posture:

  1. You need to think about your posture ALWAYS.
  2. You need to strengthen your postural muscles – if they are stronger you will have better posture.

At Positive Motion Chiropractic we have literally travelled the world to learn from the greatest experts how to teach people to have beautiful, effortless, and functional posture. We do this in group classes and individual instruction. It is fun and interesting to learn and the results are phenomenal.


Most people spend the majority of their day at a workstation. If that workspace is not set up for you to win then your body will lose. You will notice decreasing flexibility, limited range of motion, and over time strength declines. And your body will start to hurt. First felt as nagging tension and soreness.

To provide lasting positive changes for our patients we look at their ergonomic setup and make simple, but effective, recommendations to maximize the comfort and function of their workspace. Our ergonomic evaluations are invaluable and performed at no extra charge for patients who can benefit.

If you got this far reading about causes and treatment options for neck pain you deserve to take the next step and get a world-class evaluation by an expert sports chiropractor. Schedule your appointment now using our real-time online schedule.