Table of Contents
- How People Describe This Pain Pattern
- How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
- Self-Care – Getting Relief on Your Own
- Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
- Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
Pain in the Upper Neck
People complain about pain in the upper neck that makes them irritable. They often describe that sensation that extends down toward the shoulder as tension instead of pain as they continue. At the same time, they explain things that aggravate it but seldom can describe the incident that created the injury. Other trigger points produce pain in that area, so I always ask more questions to narrow it down before I start the physical examination.
People usually don’t complain about this pattern unless there is pressure on their shoulders. And then, it is memorably irritating. Conversely, many trigger points become chronically achy and bother people at rest. Instead, this one seems to be protected by supportive muscles when resting. This trigger point starts bothering you when it gets compressed or stretched.
People with sensory processing disorder seem pleasantly surprised and pleased when I ask them if a heavy coat bothers them. They are glad to find someone who understands their sensitivity instead of dismissing it. (This is opposed to the sensory defensive clients that are looking for heavy pressure from clothing to calm them) When the arms are not properly supported, this aggravating tension can be distracting when working d at the computer.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
Weight on Shoulders
When asked when it bothers them the most, they may say that it bothers them while carrying a travel bag in each hand. They may also complain that it bothers them while holding their shoulders up to type at a desk that is too high. They may restlessly change hands when holding the top of the steering wheel.
I’ve experienced this pattern when I carry a child on my shoulders for a while. I also get it when I’m carrying concrete blocks or bales of straw in the yard. In cases like this, the tension is achy and aggravating. Likewise, athletes may complain that the neck and shoulders bother them when carrying dumbbells during exercises like lunges.
This trigger point can be chronically aggravated by Forward-Head Posture.
Sensory Processing & Anxiety
These people, even when they don’t identify as having Sensory Processing Disorder, will be unreasonable about not wearing a coat, snug-fitting suit, or backpack. Frustratingly, these items aggravate them in a way that they have trouble explaining.
The top of the neck gets an achy burn. This trigger point aggravates the sympathetic ganglion. Conversely, releasing it gives a great deal of relief from anxiety.
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
This post on anatomy contains standard information about the origin, insertion, function, and innervation of muscles. Additionally, it includes information on functional considerations and anomalies.
Find Related Posts
Anatomy posts have a grid of all related posts. This includes posts on pain patterns, self-care, therapy notes, NMT protocols, cranial techniques, and cases.
Getting Relief on Your Own
Self-Care Posts have common sections to make them easy to follow and understand:
- Activities to Avoid or Change
- Strategies for Quick Relief
- Stretches and Exercise for Longer-Lasting Relief
- Yoga Corner
Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise
Therapy Notes provide details for cranial, spinal, and local joint work. These notes also link to a traditional neuromuscular protocol.
By treating integrative components first, direct work on the muscle becomes less intense while providing longer-lasting relief.
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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.
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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.