Neck pain causes from around the body

July 17, 2013 in Diagnosis, Neck

As highlighted in our look at the shoulder, there are many global patterns of compensation which are not well researched but can have great significance in our clinical practice.

We have already mentioned Janda’s Upper Crossed Syndrome, but here is a quick reminder:

Tightness of Upper trapezius and levator scapulae –> Pectoralis major and minor

Weakness of Deep cervical flexors (longus colli and longus capitis) –>  Weak middle and lower trapezius

Postural changes: Forward head, increased cervical lordosis and thoracic kyphosis, elevated and protracted shoulders, rotation or abduction and winging of scapulae.


Apraicio et al1 demonstrated that suboccipital inhibition has a positive effect on lengthening short hamstrings.  This is thought to be due to the myofascial links in the posterior chain.


Weakness of the rotator cuff and/or scapula stabilisers can lead to over use of cervical muscles so relieving neck pain in this case will necessitate treatment and rehabilitation of shoulder issues.


Upper chest dominant breathing and overuse of accessory muscles of respiration can be a contributing factor to neck pain.  Diaphragm release and breathing retraining exercises can help with neck pain.


One of the key factors in ‘solving’ chronic neck pain is identifying the causative factors.  Posture will give a significant insight into global compensations.  For example, pelvic imbalance leading to spinal compensations can cause neck pain.  All 3 of the common postural faults – flat-back, sway-back and kyphotic-lordotic lead to anterior head posture.

There is a large amount of really useful information on postural assessment and correction at

1 Aparicio, EQ; Quirante, LB; Blanco, CR; Sendin, FA (2009) Immediate effects of the suboccipital muscle inhibition technique in subjects with short hamstring syndrome.   Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 32(4); 262-9