Newsletter excerpts: Upper Cross and Text Neck December 2017

Michelle Burns
December 12, 2017

Every month I send out a newsletter to subscribers with the most recent evidence and studies on specific bodywork topics. The newsletter may include summaries and links to studies and articles, videos that provide support information about exercises, new techniques or lectures. There are five main focuses for the newsletters and each newsletter is repeated twice a year. The seven main focuses for the newsletters are: Shoulder and rotator cuff, fibromyalgia, fascia and trigger points, upper cross and neck, cupping/lymphatic drainage, adult learning and business/ethics. If you would like to receive the newsletters with more complete information than is found in the excerpts, please sign up to receive the newsletter on my contact page.


Tidbits and Updates

1.In a brief article by Erik Dalton, he reminds us that “the occipitoatlantal (O-A) joint is the uppermost weight-bearing synovial joint in the body, it is the final junction for adapting to asymmetry and dysfunction from below. And because it is attached to the brain stem, which controls all basic body functions (including breathing and heartbeat), poor alignment may have widespread consequences.”

2. The Brugger Test can be used to determine if suboccipital spasm is the result of head and neck positioning or compensations below the neck. To perform the Brugger Test, use one hand to brace the client’s forehead and the index finger and thumb of your other hand to gently palpate and hold the area with the most knotty spasm. While holding this hand position, ask the client to sit. If the spasm decreases when the client sits, it suggests asymmetry in the lower body rather than head and neck compensation.

3. The website, The RMT Education Project, has a great article titled Massage Therapy and Post-Concussion Headaches which discusses the effectiveness of massage for these types of headaches. There is also a good short video explaining what happens with a concussion. 

4. Whitney Lowe gives a very clear and concise explanation of the steps of The Slump Test and how to use it to determine where impingement might be created. The article can be found at Academy of Clinical Massage website. 

5. A study, published in J Phys Ther Sci in 2013, titled Impact of longus colli muscle massage on the strength and endurance of the deep neck flexor muscle of adults, concluded: Massage of the longus colli muscle, which is the deep neck flexor, was shown to improve in strength and endurance, which are measures of neck stabilization.

6. Round Earth Publishing: Introduction to Head Pain offers some insight into common symptoms (other than muscular pain) that can be manifested through trigger points in muscles in the neck and face. 

  • Sternocleidomastoid:  dizziness, sinus pain, nausea
  • Masseter: tinnitus, sinus pressure, toothache of upper and lower molars
  • Temporalis:  sinus headache, toothache in upper teeth, tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pterygoids:  Maxillary sinus blockage and pressure, mouth pain, ear stuffiness, difficulty swallowing,  bitter, metallic taste in mouth
  • Digastric: pain in lower incisors, lump in throat, difficulty swallowing
  • Orbicularis: jumpy print in reading, droopy eyelid
  • Splenius cervicis: eye pain, blurred vision
  • Longus Capitis, Longs Colli: ear pain, eye pain, sinus pain
  • Suboccipitals: balance problems, dizziness, seizures


1. A review article, titled Neck Proprioception Shapes Body Orientation and Perception of Motion, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, concluded: tonic neck-proprioceptive input may induce persistent influences on the subject’s mental representation of space. These plastic changes might adapt motion sensitiveness to lasting or permanent head positional or motor changes.

2. A study, published in Manual Therapy, Manual therapy for mechanical neck disorders: a systematic review concludes: for mechanical neck disorder with or without headaches, it appears that to be most beneficial, manual therapies should be done with exercise for improving pain and patient satisfaction. Manipulation and mobilization alone appear to be less effective. 

3. A study, Stretching exercises vs manual therapy in treatment of chronic neck pain: a randomized controlled cross-over trial published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, concluded: Both stretching exercise and manual therapy considerably decreased neck pain and disability in women with non-specific neck pain. 

4. A study, Effect of manual therapy and stretching on neck muscle strength and mobility in chronic neck pain, published in J Rehabil Med, concluded: Manual therapy and stretching were effective short-term treatments for reducing both spontaneous and strain-evoked pain in patients with chronic neck pain. It is possible that the decrease in pain reduced inhibition of the motor system and in part improved neck function. However, the changes in neck muscle strength were minor, showing that these treatments alone are not effective in improving muscle strength.

5. A study, Five-week outcomes from a dosing trial of therapeutic massage for chronic neck pain, published in Ann Fam Med, concluded: Multiple 60-minutes massages per week more effective than fewer or shorter session for individuals with chronic neck pain. 

In the Alternative Health Care Arena

1.A study published on PlosOne, Efficacy of abdominal acupuncture for neck pain: a randomized controlled trial, concluded: Abdominal acupuncture is an effective alternative treatment for neck pain.

2. A study, Immediate Effects of high velocity low amplitude thrust manipulation of the thoracic spine on mechanical neck pain, disability and cervical range of motion, published in Int J Physiother Res in 2017 concluded: HVLA thrust of the thoracic spine was effective in immediately reducing mechanical neck pain and improving cervical range of motion. 

3. A study in J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil in Sep 2017 titled Effectiveness of kinesio taping in addition to conventional rehabilitation treatment on pain, cervical range of motion and quality of life in patients with neck pain: a randomized controlled trial concluded: a protocol of manual therapy and physical exercises significantly improved pain and mobility in patients with neck pain. We obtained no evidence of additional benefits from the of application of KT in this population.

4. A study on Science Direct titled Effects of yogic exercise on nonspecific neck pain in university students concluded: the yoga group showed significantly decreased neck pain scores compared with those of the control group. These findings indicate that yogic exercises could reduce neck pain in university students.  

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