Neck pain is something that is complex and is not easily treated without some help




Pain when you wake up

Pain with turning your head or looking up

Worse pain on one side but can be both

Tension to the back of the neck



How you know you have a neck problem?


Self-manipulation of the neck

The need to stretch the neck regularly

Joint sounds with neck motion (sand in the neck)

You have trouble finding the ‘right pillow’

Difficulty shoulder checking when you drive


Yup, self-manipulation and neck stretching is a sign of a neck problem and rarely helps a neck problem improve. These treatments are very limited in their reduction of tension and pain. Symptoms of neck pain and tightness return, sometimes hours after an adjustment.


Neck manipulation or stretching is a sign you have a neck problem!


Treatment should include a restoration of upper neck motion. This area is undertreated consistently and failure to get the upper neck to move again is the biggest reason why treatment programs fail.




  • If your pain returns following treatment then the underlying cause has not been addressed.
  • If you have tried two or more pillows and still have trouble getting a good nights sleep then the problem is your neck and not the pillow.


Most neck specialists over the last decade have been moving away from joint manipulation or thrust manipulation in favor of more gentle joint mobilization techniques. Your neck problem took time to get this way. A quick fix is not the answer.


Your neck problem took time to get this way. A quick fix is not the answer.


Exercises you can try on your own


Neck Self-Mobilization



Try this with a 5 to 6 second hold or stretch but be gentle. Less is more for this exercise. You can do this exercise when you feel stiff, 1 to 2 times a day.


The neck rōl at Cornerstone will start to activate the deep stabilizing muscles of the neck reducing tension to the base of the skull and reducing sternocleidomastoid tension. This is a great exercise and very safe to do. If you do not have the rōl then a tennis ball can work but is sometimes slippery and shifts around. The diameter of the cylinder or ball should be about 3 inches.


Neck rōl



Lower cervical spinal motion into the shoulders occurs when we raise are arm up to the ceiling. Here is an exercise that is safe to do but be careful your shoulder isn’t painful.


Arm Raise with Stick



These exercises can be done 1 to 2 times a day for a few minutes at a time.


Improving your posture can be a great start to reducing neck pain and tension. Here is a link to get started on some postural foundations.




Any neck problem should have a specialist involved in treatment and is some cases different professions working together. For a comprehensive evaluation of your neck call Cornerstone at 719-596-5000. We have decades of experience treating complex neck problems with well over 10,000 cases solved!


Should I get imaging?


If you have a chronic neck problem then x-ray imaging is appropriate. This needs to be ordered by a physical therapist, chiropractor or physician. At Cornerstone we use Cone Beam CT 3D imaging to assess for neck issues. It is the best radiographic imaging available and gives a lot of information. Ask your doctor about Cone Beam CT.