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Neck Pain

Understanding the Causes and Best Treatment Options


Neck pain is a common musculoskeletal problem can interfere with work,  recreation, and your quality of life.  Neck problems can also cause headaches, which can lead to further frustration and aggravation.

Fortunately, Cox Spinal Decompression therapy has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched treatments for spinal conditions, including neck pain.  In fact, Cox Technique can often provide dramatic relief when there are few other effective treatment options available. But before we talk about how Cox Technique works so effectively, it is helpful to first discuss how neck problems develop in the first place.

Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for treating Neck Pain, and can often provide dramatic relief when there are few other effective treatment options available.


Understanding Neck Pain

While some neck pain can caused by conditions such as arthritis, spinal stenosis, or disc problems, by far, the most common type of neck pain is classified as “mechanical neck pain”.  Unlike traumatic neck pain, which is associated with a specific event such as a whiplash injury, mechanical neck pain develops slowly over time, and results from abnormal motion of the joints in the the neck.  This is often confusing to patients as it is difficult to link their symptoms back to a specific cause or event.

Here’s how this work….

The neck, or cervical spine, consists of a series of 7 block-shaped bones stacked together to form a moveable column.  As the neck flexes, bends, or twists each of these bones (anatomically referred to as vertebrae) will move such that each each vertebrae will contribute to the overall movement of the neck.  This pattern of ‘shared mobility’ allows the the joint stress and muscular demand associated with these movements to be evenly distributed across a larger area, thereby helping to prevent overload at individual spinal joints and minimize the risk of injury.

Of course, proper health and mobility of the neck as a whole requires each individual vertebrae to be able to adequately flex, bend, and twist.  But if any of the cervical joints become restricted it will force the other joints in the neck to move excessively in an effort to compensate for the restricted segment.  This altered balance within the neck will create excessive stress and strain to the hypermobile joint as well as the surrounding muscles, nerves, and ,ligaments.  As this process continues over time it will lead to joint and soft tissue injury, inflammation, and pain.  In addition to the neck itself, it is also common for symptoms such as pain and muscle tension to be referred to the shoulders and head, depending on which joints are involved (see figure below). (In some circumstance mechanical neck pain can also refer pain down the arm, but arm pain is more commonly related to a cervical disc herniation or cervical stenosis).

Improved Treatments for Neck Pain

Traditional Treatments for Neck Pain

In an attempt to treat neck pain, a variety of treatment methods are commonly used, including medications, stretching or strengthening exercises, or chiropractic/joint manipulation techniques.  While in many cases these approaches can be helpful in managing neck pain and stiffness, many of these therapies are often limited in their effectiveness and/or provide only temporary relief.

Medications generally address the neck pain symptoms but do not address the actual health, stiffness, or abnormal motion of the spinal joints.   Stretching exercises can be helpful, and are usually an important part of home based supportive care and management of neck pain.  However, the effectiveness of stretching is limited as it is impossible to focus the stretch at the specific joints of the spinal column which are causing the problem.  In fact, many traditional neck stretches often force the healthy joints to move more than normal to in an attempt to compensate for the tight joints that are the problem.  This can actually cause stress and damage at the healthy joints.  Of course, basic home based stretching and strengthening exercises are an important part of neck pain treatment and rehabilitation, but must be done properly, with the right form, and at the right time.  Neck exercises to improve strength will help protect and stabilize loose joints, but will have no effect on joint restrictions.

Traditional chiropractic adjustments/joint manipulation procedures to loosen tight and restricted joints can also be helpful in some cases of neck pain, but can often be uncomfortable, or patients may be nervous to receive such treatment.  Furthermore, research has shown that it is difficult to affect specific joints with this type of treatment, which leads to the same problems associated with stretching (1,2).


Getting to the Cause of the pain… Resolving Neck Pain with Cox Flexion-Distraction

Cox Flexion-Distraction therapy is a comfortable, hands-on, non-surgical treatment for spinal pain and dysfuction.  In recent decades Cox Therapy has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched treatments for spinal conditions, including neck pain.

Cox Treatment is performed using a specially engineered treatment table that gently pulls and stretches the spine. With the patient lying face down on the table, the headpiece of the table can be slowly pulled down and away. Side-to-side and rotational motions can also be performed.  These  motion stretche  the cervical portion of the spine, which pulls the vertebrae away from each other and acts to “decompress” and stretch/release the restricted joint. As the spine stretches the doctor is able to focus the release at the specific level of restriction by applying a focal pressure to the damaged area with a specialized hand contact. Side-to-side and rotational motion can also be restored using this The ability to direct the distraction effect to the exact level of joint restriction makes Cox Flexion-Distraction treatment more effective than traditional stretching, exercise, and other distraction therapies or cervical traction devices which apply only a general stretch or traction.   Each decompression stretch is applied in a rhythmical push-pull action five or six times for a total of about 20 seconds. This process is usually repeated three to four times.


Get Relief with Cox Technique

To book an appointment to see if Cox Flexion-Distraction will be able to help with your arm or neck problem simply call our office at (902) 407-7207. For more information send us an email at

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1) Ross JK, Bereznick DE, McGill SM.  Determining cavitation location during lumbar and thoracic spinal manipulation: is spinal manipulation accurate and specific? Spine 2004; 29:1452-1457.

2) Perle SM, Kawchuck GN, Parrault T, Adams W. Radiographically determined anatomical location of point of peak pressure during pisiform and hypothenar contact manipulation procedures.  Proceedings of the International Conference on Spinal Manipulation Oct 5-6. Toronto: Foundation for chiropractic Education and Research; 2002. p20.