Neck and Shoulder Pain: Are “Knots” the Cause or the Effect?

According to how many people I see getting massages in the mall, face down in those kneeling chairs, it’s obvious that neck and upper back pain is very common.  And that those people getting the massages feel that getting the shoulder “knots” worked out will fix the reason for their pain.  I’d like to switch the focus with this article and offer a logical approach to take before have the “knots” worked out.

A knot forms in a muscle for a couple of reasons.  First, if a muscle is being over-stretched too much of the time, the brain tells the muscle to constantly fight the pull leaving scar tissue, usually at the top of the shoulder.  This person usually has poor shoulder or neck posture.  The posture usually worsens with sitting at a computer, playing an instrument, reading, etc. 

Second, if a muscle is constantly over-worked and/or used for a job it is not meant to perform, it gets fatigued without the chance to recover, leaving scar tissue or “knots”.  This person has poor shoulder blade stability.  The shoulder elevators (at the top of the shoulder) are over-worked and the stabilizers are not doing their job.  The pain and soreness in this scenario is similar to getting sore from a workout, and then doing the same workout the next day.  Without time to recover, muscles will soon fail.

In both of these situations it’s not the “knot” that’s at fault.  It is a consequence of poor posture or faulty shoulder movement.  My suggestion is to have the cause fixed before having the effect removed.  In reality, the “knot” is your body’s attempt to create stability at the shoulder and neck and removing it could worsen your stability.  A massage temporarily feels good, but leaves you needing more and more.  At In Motion Spine & Joint Center we spend the time to find the missing link and fix the posture, shoulder function or both.  Treatment may be a combination of spinal adjustments, muscle manipulation, rehab exercises, and most importantly advice.  Please call the office or visit to learn more.