©2019 Portland Pain Institute LLC

Neck pain

Case 1: This 45 year-old woman presented with chronic neck pain and cervical osteoarthritis, three years after a whiplash accident. Her neck muscles were weak and atrophied. She had a bad case of chronic neck exhaustion, wherein trauma is followed by prolonged tension without sufficient relaxation or rest. She had been receiving weekly chiropractic adjustments for years, with no end in sight.

Her session relaxed her neck to the point where it could finally rest thoroughly. After resting deeply for fifteen minutes, the energized state of her neck permitted discharge of injury memory pain. Her neck muscles were immediately stronger, tangibly fuller due to a surge of circulation, and almost pain-free. After a couple weeks of careful rest, she felt normal and discontinued her chiropractic adjustments.

Problems involving chronic exhaustion are self-perpetuating, as in neck, back, or knee pathologies. Instead of healing over time, they often become worse, developing joint dysfunction. The subject is typically unaware of the exhaustion factor, and eventually becomes incapable of resting the injury area without assistance. However, chronic exhaustion is easily remedied with guided relaxation, pain discharge, and a few weeks of diligent self-care. Evidently, joint dysfunction may become a nonissue after exhaustion is relieved, relaxation restored, and strength regained.

In the 1990s, American chiropractors were learning that strengthening exercises can help to relieve chronic neck pain. This is logical, since stronger neck muscles are less prone to exhaustion or spasm. However, the process of strengthening a chronically exhausted neck is unnecessarily long and painful, and may not actually stop the pain. If exhaustion is relieved first, the neck is immediately stronger and ready for exercise that alternates with careful rest. The weight of the head offers sufficient exercise after exhaustion is relieved. After mass and strength return, the neck may benefit from more vigorous strengthening exercises.

Despite being virtually self-evident, chronic neck exhaustion and the relaxation/rest remedy appear entirely unknown to the established pain relief modalities. This is likely due to the fact that deep relaxation is difficult to achieve for a chronically exhausted neck. If the practitioner does not relax the subject’s neck adequately, exhaustion cannot be properly witnessed. Discharge occurs only after the neck is thoroughly rested and re-energized, all of which are typical in a single Arneson Method session.

Case 2: This 72 year-old woman presented with chronic neck pain and arm/hand numbness and pain. The apparent cause of her condition was prolonged emotional stress combined with overuse of her dominant hand, for painting. Although she had no neck injury history, her condition involved chronic neck exhaustion, which can also result from purely emotional stress. I suspected the typical relationship between her neck tension and the arm dysfunction. She had attempted chiropractic and massage, with little relief. She wore a brace for her hand and wrist.

While she relaxed and rested her neck on the table, she became agitated due to a small wave of fear that surfaced for discharge. I instructed her to open her eyes wide, which allowed her body to discharge the fear. She then relaxed again and experienced a strong sense of well-being. The session also relieved her neck pain in large part. I recommended that she rest her neck a few times each day, and gave her a putty ball for hand exercise.

After three weeks of resting and exercising, she reported that the whole problem was resolved, and that she had experienced lasting anxiety relief. Discharge of fear relieves anxiety as well as chronic muscle tension. For reliable discharge, the practitioner must be prepared to address any surfacing emotion with a matching facial expression. If properly matched, the expression facilitates discharge of that particular emotion. However, with injury-related chronic pain, the feeling is almost always mild pain, without fear or other emotion.