Dear D…

My reply to a support group post from a woman, who was prescribed muscle relaxers and physical therapy. This combination didn’t help after 2 weeks, so her doctor stopped both and prescribed Celebrex instead.  Celebrex seemed to help but she was concerned over the side effects her friends had experienced, including kidney damage from long term use.


Dear D…,

Celebrex helps but it is not a long term solution because of potential side
effects. Of course there are the lucky ones, who never have any side effects.  But when I was on high dose Celebrex for several month, I became intolerant to all nsaids which I hadn’t been before. Currently, one Celebrex, ibuprofen, or aspirin sends me into anaphylaxis.

If you don’t have out-right bony nerve compression in your neck and don’t need
surgery, then the right kind of physical therapy should help you.

It took me years of physical therapy to figure out that a lot of what is offered
by PTs is not the right kind of therapy for neck pain.

The right kind of therapy requires an initial evaluation for postural alignment, and then  a program of strengthening elongated, weak postural muscles, such as the back muscles, and stretching the tight muscles, which are often the chest muscles, so that you can more easily maintain correct alignment of the upper body. Correct alignment of the upper body yields correct alignment of the head and neck, which will relax tight posterior neck muscles and strengthen weak anterior neck muscles.

After that, any other kind of hands-on treatment a PT wants to give: heat, ice, electrical stim, mobilization, or traction may help with relaxing tight neck muscles but only in the short term unless the posture alignment issue is also addressed.

Correcting posture of the lower body is a major factor in improving alignment of the upper body. Functional posture while sitting and doing daily work is also of utmost importance.

How you hold your head, which is like a 10 pound bowling ball
perched on a stick of a spine, determines the stress on neck muscles. If you hold
your head out in front of the shoulders all day long, the posterior neck muscles are
over-worked and become very unhappy. And if you always let your upper back slouch,
the poor muscles that suspend your shoulder blades from your neck cry “uncle.”

If you have a lot of neck joint inflammation to begin with, allow at least 2
months of posture training to see reduced neck pain. My neck had gotten so bad,
that the pain flared with direct neck massage, cervical joint mobilization and
neck traction. A good posture correction program corrected that in 2 to 3

I realize that Fixing Posture First sounds counter-intuitive, but believe me, it


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