Muscle Knots in the Neck

You know that sharp pain you get in your neck sometimes when you turn your head too fast, or following an intense, weight training session? How about those stress headaches that end up causing the muscles in your neck to tighten up, making your shoulders feel hunched? Talk about irritating! Everything from leaning over your desk to playing golf, sitting in an awkward position for too long, sports injuries and other traumas can cause muscle knots in the neck.

Sore neck muscles usually start to feel better after a few days, but if they linger on and you can pinpoint where it’s originating from, you may have what is referred to as a “trigger point”.


Identifying Trigger Points

Trigger points are tight knots of muscle fiber that can’t relax and are predominantly found in the trapezius muscle that stretches from the base of your head, over to your shoulder and down to the middle of your back.  It is possible to have multiple trigger points in just one muscle, usually just a few inches apart. The Muscle usually feels tighter and denser at a trigger point, almost rope like.  You can tell if the pains coming from the trigger point if you push on it and the pain affects the entire muscle area.

The best way to avoid muscle knots in the neck is to prevent the trigger points by focusing on good posture and the body mechanics. In addition, it’s important to find healthy ways to deal with stress. Stress is a normal aspect of everyday life and we all need to find positive ways to deal with it, both physically and mentally.

Fortunately, there are some ways to relieve neck muscle knots including the following.

  • Massaging the trigger point which can loosen up tight muscle fibers
  • Anti-inflammatories can help wipe out muscle pain however an ice pack or heating pad can relieve muscle knot pain naturally
  • Avoid repetitive strain which can cause muscle fibers to seize up
  • Learn how to deal with stress which is one of the top causes of neck muscle knots
  • Practice good posture whether you’re working at your desk or lounging in front of the TV
  • Neck stretches can relieve tight muscles and help remove knots
  • Some medical physicians suggest a trigger point injection to relax knotted muscle fiber in an effort to stimulate healing


Upper Cervical Chiropractic

If you have neck muscle knots that just won’t go away and you don’t want to inject drugs into the muscles or pop pills there is another approach that frequently addresses the underlying cause of muscle knots in the neck.

Upper cervical chiropractic has been successfully used to address neck muscle knots. This unique chiropractic approach corrects Atlas/C1 misalignments within the upper cervical spine that can interfere with the appropriate nerve flow to the neck muscles and shoulders. Nerves tell muscles what to do. So an irritated nerve will frequently tell a muscle to tighten over and over. This is why it is common for neck muscles to tighten on the same side or in a similar pattern that is consistent with the type of misalignment.

In cases where the spinal cord or nerve roots are involved, upper cervical chiropractic care is a highly effective approach that can remove nerve pressure and make it possible for soft tissue and the nerves to heal helping you to get long-lasting relief and recovery.


What to Do Next

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Dr. Kurt Sherwood, D.C. is an Upper Cervical Specialist and Renton Chiropractor who has helped many people to find natural relief over the past 20 plus years. He is trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association and his Renton Chiropractic clinic specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems including migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, and vertigo. More information can be found on his website at


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