In this article I will present a case study of a man who successfully resolved chronic neck pain using the methods outlined in my Illustration of neck painprevious blogs on the neck stretching, extension, biomechanic adjustment and massage.   Although Michael had tried many other treatment methods, ours was the only one to prove successful.  Still, I cannot take credit for his recovery: Michael was an active participant in his treatment and that made all the difference.

A 63-year-old CFO of a highly successful company in New York City, Michael was working over 60 hours a week and taking his play just as seriously.   He was an avid golfer, cyclist and skier and worked out on a daily basis.   When neck pain came into his life, however, it nearly shut everything down.

Michael’s neck condition developed as many do – progressing from occasional to nagging to a serious chronic situation with shooting pains.  Within a few months his shoulder and arm had begun to atrophy from lack of use.  He was unable to do sports or fitness workouts.  His work was compromised.  The pain interrupted his sleep nightly.  Within 4-5 months of the first twinge of pain, Michael was experiencing a “full-blown disaster” in his life.

Having attempted various remedies over the course of a year including pain medication, massage therapy, chiropractic work, acupuncture and orthopedic treatment, Michael was ready to give in to the surgeon’s recommendation to cut into his neck in what would have been a highly invasive, risky surgery then he learned about the work we do at Dorfman Kinesiology.

Picture of a golferAt our first appointment it was clear that Michael was desperate for a cure that did not involve neck surgery and I was able to reassure him, after an initial assessment of the injured area, that we could fix the pain within a month.  And we did.  Once pain-free and able to resume his workouts and athletic lifestyle, it took about a year for Michael’s neck, shoulder and arm to return to its pre-injury strength, range of motion and flexibility.

From the start it was obvious to me what the problem was and what was needed to resolve the pain.   And it all goes back to what I described in the first 2 parts of this series on the neck:  extension, stretching,  biomechanic adjustment and massage.  (This is the same model I use for dealing with lower back pain as well as many other types of structural conditions.) In this case, I used massage to manually extend Michael’s neck and work out muscle tension in the shoulders and back, but I needed him to take an active role in his own rehabilitation to be successful.   By completing daily stretches and keeping his neck elongated and positioned correctly while at work and elsewhere, Michael was able to a bring his neck back to health without medication or surgery.  These pieces that Michael did outside my office were vital to his healing and no practitioner could have done them for him.

This working partnership between a patient and his/her practitioner is something that is sadly lacking in today’s medical system.  In my perspective, each person needs to take an active role in their own health care to experience success.  There is no magic pill.   I am not dismissing the important role of medication and medical procedures when used properly to cure disease and ease suffering, but when it comes to most structural conditions, including neck pain, this notion stands.

According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, 100 million Americans experience chronic pain.  The National Institute for Health Statistics lists neck pain as the 3rd most common area of chronic pain with only lower back issues and headaches/migraines being more prevalent.   If you are one of those millions who suffer from neck pain or discomfort, we can help.   Partner with Dorfman Kinesiology and feel better forever.