Neck & Shoulder Pain

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello, 

    I am a professional in my late 30s. I have been experiencing worsening symptoms of cervical radiculopathy that is now interfering with my work and day to day life. Along with seeing my doctor and having an ergonomic assessment, etc I am seeking recommendations for a massage therapist and/or acupuncturist locally with expertise in this area. 


    For functional help Jen Ross at Ross Acupuncture is absolutely *amazing*. She really knows her stuff, and has helped me and others I’ve referred her to with a variety of injuries and other ailments.

    The folks at Berkeley Deep Sports Massage are also really great - the tagline is “for people who think a good massage should hurt a little bit.” I’ve had some uncomfortable sessions there, but the results are always worth it!

    I can’t speak to your specific diagnosis but Dr John Nieters at Alameda Acupuncture is AMAZING and has helped me with a myriad of issues, include tail bone and toe joint pain. Also, his wife, Dr Jenny Nieters has helped me with hip/joint issues. They are very very good! 

    Hello -

    I am a fellow sufferer, with the added twist that my pinched nerves cause migraines. I tried a lot of physical treatments, including massage and acupuncture, but they were not very effective. The best treatment for me - usually with immediate relief - is to see a chiropractor who basically puts the neck back into its place and thereby frees the nerve. My absolute favorite chiro is Dr Laurie Wonnell 2234 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704 (510) 655-6336.  Best of luck to you! 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Swimmer's neck and shoulder pain

July 2015

Hello! My daughter is on swim team this summer and is experiencing pain in both of her shoulders. It appears to be rotator cuff tendonitis, but I am looking to get a second opinion and perhaps an MRI to confirm this diagnosis or at least make sure there isn't something more serious going on. It is likely her stroke that is causing the strain in her shoulders because the pain has flared up with the start of the season and doesn't bother her the rest of the year. SO any recommendations for doctors that may specialize in shoulders? Sports medicine docs? Perhaps you or your child have had a similar experience with swimming and have improved/recovered? Would love to hear how. Thanks in advance. Susie

The best shoulder specialist around for competitive swimmers is Kirk Jensen. Many of the swimmers and water polo players in Lamorinda with shoulder issues go to him. He has deep roots in swimming and water polo: he played water polo at Stanford; his son was a competitive swimmer in high school and water polo player in college; Jensen was a water polo coach in his spare time. So he knows about the wear and tear on shoulders from these sports. Although he's an orthopedic surgeon, we went to him any time our kids' shoulders were giving them trouble. Usually, he gave us exercises and/or referred us to his physical therapist. But he also ended up doing surgery on my son's shoulder when he got a tear in his labrum. I think Jensen has offices in Oakland and Lafayette. He's the best.

Swim and Water Polo Parent

If your daughter is experiencing shoulder problems from swimming, her stroke is incorrect. Rather than a medical solution, consider having her take a break from swimming until her shoulders have recovered, and when she's pain-free, find a patient, experienced, knowledgeable swim teacher to correct her stroke. Swimming should not cause pain! Laura

Shoulder pain in swimmers who are still growing is a very common problem; particularly as the body is growing and developing into becoming an adult. The demands of swimming can sometimes over-strain the muscles around the shoulder; particularly the rotator cuff muscles. It is extremely rare for young athletes to actually tear their rotator cuff muscles (this is a problem of people over the age of 40). Instead, their muscles are more prone to over-use and inflammation (which is what tendonitis is). We usually recommend 6 weeks of physical therapy to work on decreasing inflammation, strengthening the muscles around the shoulder, and working on mechanics. The vast majority of young athletes recover. If one does not improve after 6 -8 weeks of rest and therapy, then we generally go down the route of getting an MRI. Feel free to contact the Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland if you have any additional questions.

Hunched Over Laptop Syndrome

June 2014

I have developed bad back and neck pain ever since I started working on my new Toshiba C55t-A 3 months ago which is just a standard laptop. It seems there is something called HOLS (Hunched Over Laptop Syndrome) caused by these new widescreen 16:10 sizes - it comes from having to tilt the head down slightly more due to the shorter screen. Has anyone else had this problem? I know I can get a docking station at my desk etc to use a larger monitor at the right eye level but then doesn't that defeat the purpose of a laptop? I like to work with it on my lap in the livingroom but it has become too painful. Has anyone else had this problem and what do you do about it? It doesn't seem like the old 4:3 size screens are available now. I also am annoyed how much I have to constantly scroll down to see things - how can that be an improvement? I know it is for movies blahblahblah but doesn't anyone work on one anymore? perplexed why wide-short is better

I am very sympathetic because I hated having to adjust to the new style of laptop, having stuck for years with those few manufacturers who still made 4:3 laptops until they simply didn't exist any more. I hated that you couldn't comfortably see two letter-size documents side by side on the screen, with the whole height of each page with a font at a decent size for reading. I too thought that the 16:9 ratio was stupid and, yes, I got neck and shoulder pain. However, after several months I did end up getting used to the new ratio and even found some advantages. E.g. I like that you can actually have three documents side by side. I also found ways to adjust, e.g. using web view for documents, which allows you to be very flexible about font size. I started after a few months to have less pain, and I wonder in retrospect if part of why I'd had neck and shoulder pain was that, until I found reasons to like the new ratio, I felt so tense and angry when I was working. So I wonder if at least part of it is a matter of just getting psychologically adjusted to the new reality. At least that's how it was in my case! Now when I use my old 4:3 ratio laptop the screen seems weirdly tall and narrow. I do believe that laptops are ergonomically more problematic than the old desktops with monitors at a more natural eye level, but honestly I doubt that 16:9 vs. 4:3 makes much of an ergonomic difference all on its own. Sympathetic

Maybe if you recline on the couch, you can get the screen into a better position. Something like this: Hope that helps. Anon

The problem with lap tops is that when the keyboard is at an appropriate height, the screen is too low. People end up hunching over to see their screen, which leads to neck, shoulder and back problems.

This can be solved by buying a separate keyboard, and putting your laptop up higher (you can raise it up using household objects, like books, or buy a stand.) Laura

Get the screen at a comfortable level first, and use a small wireless keyboard instead of the one on the laptop. I have a large monitor and wireless keyboard & mouse at my desk. When I travel I take my keyboard and mouse with me, and I elevate the laptop on books or a box.  I like using a laptop because I can take everything with me when I'm away from my workplace, but the screen is useless, you're right.

Constant shoulder knots and pain at the computer

June 2011

This is getting ridiculous - I work at a computer all day and I know that isn't doing me any good but the AMOUNT of knots in my shoulders and the pain/tension headaches coming from it are getting to be unbearable. I have a reasonably ergonomic setup - I work from home so I can't have my employer hire an ergonomist (is that a word?) or anything but it's pretty well set up. I try to sit up straight. I do drive a lot so that's probably exacerbating it but I have one of those seat cushions in my car that supposed to help. No lumbar support though and i wonder if that would help.

What finally drove me over the edge is that I got a 90-minute really good massage yesterday and she barely made a dent. It was like the woman was trying to break up concrete with her hands - and she's strong! And I had had one two weeks before. Yoga doesn't help much - it helps my back but not my shoulders at all. I have a good mattress. Any ideas at all? in pain.

I get knots as well, and the only thing that really helps me is resting my arm (e.g., 2 weeks vacation w/o using a computer) and exercise! I also use a computer program called Stretch Break and set it to come on every 45 minutes. It prompts you to do 4 short rotating stretches, and this has made a difference for me. Here's a link for a free trial: Break/3000-2129_4-10339758.html Another knotty woman

I feel for you! I've had episodes of terrible shoulder pain (from work, driving, and nursing baby in bed) and it is no fun. You didn't mention chiropractics. Many are skeptical, but for me that's what has worked -- a relatively gentle few visits, not the bone-jarring adjustments and months of follow-up some describe. Of course the chiros have advised coming back weekly, but once I felt fine I just stopped. If you want recommendations of chiropractors you can email me. Another thing is a memory foam mattress -- that has helped me a lot. Good luck! Alexandra

My husband was having the same problems, plus a stiff neck in the morning. He went to a physical therapist, who told him he needed to strengthen his back and neck muscles. She gave him exercises, which has been doing every morning (10-15 minutes) for a couple of months. It has helped tremendously, now he is aware of his posture and notices he's not quite as hunched over his computer when he works. Any good physical therapist should be able to help - just make sure they give you exercises to do at home. Hope your shoulder pain goes away. Corina

I have had similar problems since spraining my neck at age 24 (I am now 45). I didn't get any physical therapy for the original incident and it became a chronic problem. I had marble-sized lumps in my shoulder muscles (where they connect with the base of the neck), daily pain and often head pain. Getting rear-ended at about age 30 made it even worse. I saw chiropractors but they just cracked things and I saw no particular improvement, until at age 39 I saw a chiro specializing in sports medicine. She was more of a physical therapist. She dug deep into the muscles and massaged and pressed and man it hurt. I couldn't believe how powerful her tiny hands were! I didn't walk out feeling better, but I could tell things were loosening. I spent 1-2 years going, first weekly and then less often. What a difference. I saw improvements in my pain level relatively soon, but it's really impressive long-term. I am so much better. I don't wake up with neckaches daily and only have a flare-up about 1-2 times/year, which goes away on its own after a few days. I moved out of the area a year ago so I don't even go back to her for maintenance. So I recommend either a physical therapist or a chiro with the style that mine had. full range of motion again

I have this issue too and have a few suggestions

1)Myofascial therapy. Related to massage but very much focused on specific trigger points in the muscles.

2)The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook ( has great information about how pain you feel in one spot can actually be referred from knots and dysfunction in other muscles--helps you focus on the source of the problem.

3)Self Massage. The above workbook has some advice for this but I don't follow it. I keep a lacrosse ball (you can get one at most major sporting goods stores--they are hard compared to tennis balls) next to my bed and when pain is keeping me up at night I use the ball to apply pressure to the problem points (not always where the pain is greatest). I usually apply pressure until it stops hurting, which it almost always eventually does.

4) Exercise. Neck and should problems related to computer use are caused by an imbalance between the muscles that pull the head and shoulders forward and the ones that pull them back. Strengthening the back muscles can be helpful.

I've had a couple MRI's and have disc degeneration and some ''slight bulges'' both of which are getting worse.

I get acupuncture, massage and see a chiropractor. I take a lot of advil (and sometimes vicodin). I do exercise and have some success with that, and with yoga. There are some VERY SPECIFIC yoga postures that absolutely can and will help. I've done a lot of rehab, too. The main things you need to do are to OPEN the chest and strengthen the upper back.

If at all possible, I highly recommend taking Anne Saliou's upper back & neck care class at The Yoga Loft on Divisadero in the city. It's gentle and specifically designed to ease the discomfort you're talking about. She will help you with your problem.

Getting up periodically to do some of these stretches and strengthening exercises (my PT gave me some to do w/ a band; I recommend seeing a PT if you can) will really help. Sitting at my desk at work really makes my neck worse. I have to get up and do shoulder openers from time to time, and that helps some.

Feel free to email w/ any questions. When I meditate regularly I find the knots tend to dissipate somewhat, as well. (Oh, I also use heat on it, from a bucky pillow and the best topical analgesic I've found is Tiger Balm for Arthritis that comes in a bottle with a pump. It has lots of ingredients and really helps relieve some of the pain.) Feeling your pain, Laurian

Massage will help, but it needs to be regular (weekly?). I had chronic neck/shoulder tension that I thought would never go away. I have a long standing yoga practice. Massage was the only thing that helped. 60-90 minutes, once a week for 3 months. Now I just do once-a-month maintenance (although I wish I could do every week!) If you think how long it took to build up this tension, it's going to take some time to break it down. Don't give up! Also, deep relaxation before bed time to make sure you aren't holding on to tension while you sleep. Tension Tamer

You might need a different kind of massage and something regular as well as specific exercises to help your situation. You have patterns that have developed in your brain/muscles system that may need ''relearning''. I use a technique called Neurokinetic Therapy. This uses muscles testing(Kiniseology) to identify the overcompensating/inhibited muslces. This system of muscle testing/massaging helps the muscles release old patterns and develop new ways of ''behaving''...this is the quick explanation. It's not a one stop fix though. With specific exercises you can change the bodys muscle memory. I strongly believe in Pilates as a way to maintain, change, rehabilitate the body back to a healthful and strong state. Computers will be the death of us!!!

I completely transformed this problem myself with Iyengar yoga. It is a very precise and targeted type of yoga that is geared toward healing and improving all kinds of medical problems -- in my experience, less ''woo-woo'' / gentle and more rigorous and alignment-oriented. The teachers go through a very intense training and certification process. Good luck!

IT's time to see a chiropractor -- a chiropractor totally fixed my decade-long struggle with knots just like what you're describing. Mine eventually made my neck so stiff there were days when I couldn't get out of bed. Since seeing her for about 10 sessions 4 years ago, I only have to go back every 6 months or so for maintenance. healed from shoulder knots

Hi. I too have been a lifelong desk jockey, doing very fine mouse work for 8 hours a day. I too have a ''dried jerky'' knot in my shoulder that won't go away.

Here is what I have learned about the way you must hold your arm, or bad things will happen. I haven't found that any ''ergonomic'' desk set up helps at all.

Keyboard or mouse trays are crap; they actually make you hold your arm with more tension and that makes the pain worse. I use a desk and then use a second desk or table to make an L workstation (I am right handed so my right side pressed up against the extra table). This second table is lower by a couple to several inches, but ultimately what needs to happen is this:

Your hand should hold the mouse and rest on the heel of the hand on the mousepad. Your elbow should rest on something soft (another mousepad, I've used a yellow pages before, a gel pad thingy) on the second, lower table. The whole space of your arm from wrist to elbow should be almost suspended in air -- it should not be pressing down on your work surface. When you move the mouse, you really should only move your hand at the wrist, not the whole arm. Keeping your elbow firmly on the lower desk takes the tension strain off your shoulder and relieves tightness, cramping, and headaches.

Good luck! Ikea has those great adjustable height tables for cheap... MothlingMama

I would suggest acupuncture which can loosen muscles that massage sometimes cannot. I have similar (maybe not as acute) problems and have been instructed to get up from the computer and stretch once an hour especially doing things that open the shoulders and back. Finally, I like using one of these self- massagers every day: I keep it by my desk and use it when i'm on the phone. The design is good and it does bring relief. Hope this helps! ReneeF

I was having a similar issue. I sprung the 300 bucks for my own occupational therapist. instead of sitting upright, she actually had me leaning back, and had me get a new chair with lots of shoulder and neck support. It helped. The idea was to use the chair to take pressure off my back; sitting upright was causing all the lines of pressure to travel through my body. I also varied my routine, moved to a standup desk on occasion, and took breaks every 20 minutes to move around.

That being said, i am not suggesting you follow what was proposed for me. but through my experience with an OT, I found a solution. It was well worth the money, although it was money I did not feel I had, I made it back (no pun) soon enough. mark

I am so sorry to hear you are in pain. I am a massage therapist and I get a lot of clients with issues like you are describing.

The first question that comes to mind is where and who did you get a massage from? Strong and deep aren't necessarily helpful if the therapist does not understand what body postures or which actual muscles are causing your pain. I almost always talk to my clients about any posture issues I see and give them information and exercises to do at home to help them. If you went to the same therapist twice and/or the therapist did not have any useful feedback to offer, I would advise calling around to find a therapist who specializes in working with people with shoulder pain, or who is specifically trained in Sports or Trigger Point work. A skilled Shiatsu, Thai, or Tui Na practitioner could also be very helpful.

Another thing to consider, is that if this has been a long term issue, it may take more than one massage to solve the problem, especially if you are going back home and continuing to do the behavior (or posture) that is causing you pain. Additionally, a massage as deep as the one you describe can leave you feeling sore in and of itself for even several days.

My major piece of advice would be to find a massage therapist, yoga instructor, or some other specialist that can help you figure out what about your posture, sleep position, or other factor is that is causing the problem, then help you with body awareness, stretches and/or exercises to help solve the problem. That way, you are both working on the problem itself and your massages and yoga practice will be far more effective to untie the knots. anon

I know of an amazing chiropractor...I know many people bristle at that word, but she is really amazing. She doesn't just adjust you, she couples it with massage and questions about your lifestyle. My entire family sees her. After a car accident a few years ago, I thought my shoulder was going to give me permanent pain. She has helped me get to a manageable place.

Also, do you have a memory foam neck contoured pillow? Mine saves me! Anthea

I too work from home and sit at a computer all day. I have found that no matter how ergonomically correct my workstation is, if I sit at the computer too long I have issues. I have had the same intense neck and shoulder pain that you describe off and on for years. The human body simply cannot take being sedentary that long.

What I have done that has really helped is to break up my day so that I do not sit for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. In between I do something physical to stretch my muscles and get my blood flowing. I will do a chore around the house, run an errand or workout. I try to workout at the gym or walk everyday which really helps. This means that I usually have to do a few hours of work in the evening after my kid is asleep several nights a week and a few hours on the weekends to get all my work done, but I think it is worth it. Once I shifted my mindset to accommodate this new style of working it was easy. I feel your pain, literally!

Sometimes we build up tension through our habitual way of living we sit, stand, walk, talk, do everything. We don't recognize what it is we're doing that's causing the pain, just that the pain is there. The Alexander Technique, which is what I recommend, teaches you how to recognize what it is you're doing that's causing your pain. Right now it's probably beneath your conscious awareness. If you can learn to identify this, you can learn to change it. David

I work at the computer all day too. Massage might help you feel better but it won't solve the problem.

I strongly recommend:

1) Invest in a really good chair. They are expensive $$$ but well worth the money considering how much time you spend in that chair. I have a Herman Miller Aeron and I have had no shoulder soreness since I started using it. It's practically indestructible so you'll go through many computers before you have to replace the chair. You want armrests that will adjust up and down so your shoulders aren't slumping when you type on the keyboard.

2) At night, use a pillow that supports your neck. I have a Japanese buckwheat neck roll and I love it.

You got lots of ideas I might use (like more regular massage). What helps me some (recommended by my PT)-

2. I use a keyboard that does not have a number pad. That way, the mouse isn't so far away. I found a wireless one that has a separate number pad, so when I have to do a lot of number entry, I just move the number pad close and the keyboard to the side. (I'm not so good at typing the numbers on the keyboard). I try to position the different components for a particular task so I don't have to reach out to the side.

3. When I drive, I rest my arm on a rolled-up towel (it's mostly my right shoulder that is painful). Depending on your particular car set-up, it might be something different.

4. Exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your arms, but meanwhile, in general, avoid having your arm(s) just hanging from your shoulder without support. fellow sufferer

I, too, have felt like a jackhammer was needed to address my shoulder tension and pain in my neck. I didn't want to have to keep going back for massage when it felt like it wasn't addressing the real problem. I have been greatly helped to ease that tension and get to the root cause of the pain using the Alexander Technique with Amira Alvarez. I've learned how to sit, drive, use the computer, etc. with less overall effort and I feel comfortable in my body again! Amira's style is gentle but the results are deep. She does individual sessions and group classes. Call her: 510.528.3109. Her website: it's got lots of information... Good luck and don't give up. There is hope! Katherine

Neck/shoulder pain, headaches from bra straps

March 2011

Since my second child was born almost 3 years ago, I've had a problem wearing anything around my neck -- necklaces, apron strings, halter tops, my sunglasses -- or any clothing with snug straps like bras or bathing suits b/c they cause neck and shoulder pain and tension headaches (incidentally the same thing happens if I wear wool near my neck). The biggest problem I'm having is with my bra straps b/c this is the one trigger that I can't eliminate! I am not busty and have tried wearing shelf bras from the Gap but I still get the aching tension and pain. On the weekends I avoid wearing a bra but I am not comfortable going to the office without one. Does anyone else have this problem or advice on what to do? I am taking ibuprofen everyday to deal with the discomfort and am afraid I'll wind up with an ulcer. I tried acupuncture and talking to my doctor with no results. Thanks for your help!!

Wish I Could be Bra-less

So I use to get ''mysterious'' neck,shoulder pain and headaches. It matters how you sleep at night, sometimes when i sleep i sleep on my arm and the next morning my shoulders are in pain. your neck might hurt because you are not sitting or walking straight do stretches when you wake up. So I use to get ''mysterious'' neck,shoulder pain and headaches. It matters how you sleep at night, sometimes when i sleep i sleep on my arm and the next morning my shoulders are in pain. your neck might hurt because you are not sitting or walking straight do stretches when you wake up.

The headaches could mean you are moving your body too fast, example, when i lay down and get up really fast my head starts to hurt and won't go away for a while, take it slow and you'll see the changes. Enandi

Sounds like you could use some massage. You might have a trigger point in your neck or shoulder area. It also sounds like you could use some gentle body work to help the areas of your neck and shoulders unwind energetically. I am a massage therapist and I would be really interested in working with you for this. marion

Hi there - so glad to see I am not the only one out there with this strange problem. I have lived with it for most of my adult life, and I am 42. Even in my teens I found wearing bras to be exhausting because by the end of the day, the tension and pain would interfere with my concentration. I think the problem is related at least partly to the constriction of blood flow around the shoulder, chest and neck area. This may be constitutional - an innate sensitivity. If you have an additional stressor on top of that, like misaligned muscles or vertebrae, injured or torn or simply strained upper back muscles, as easily happens when caring for infants and toddlers, the problem becomes greatly amplified. I have found that I cannot even carry purses for any extended time.

As you point out, everything else can be adjusted, but the bra thing is really problematic. I gave up trying to wear one (I am not busty myself) by covering over the breast area with vests or blouses with ample pockets on both sides. Unfortunately my strategy requires darker clothing in general, as darker shades conceal better.

Don't have much else to offer, except my sympathy and understanding. Curious to see what others say. Anon

I sympathize with your pain! While I didn't have persistent neck and shoulder pain, I had persistent lower back pain for at least 9 months and was taking ibuprofen at least 3 times a week, though the pain was there daily. Upon a recommendation on BPN, I made an appointment with Rosie Liebe at the Body Praxis in Berkeley/Oakland. She does massage and body work and knows her stuff. Honestly I went in a bit skeptical not really believing it would help much. But my massage was at the end of February and I have not taken ibuprofen since!! I still get little spasms and aches now and then but nothing like it was before. I would highly recommend you give her a try and her rates are extremely reasonable. Almost Pain-free

Chronic Neck and Shoulder Pain

Feb 2010

For over a month now I've had chronic neck and shoulder pain. For the first few days I just felt as if I had slept on them wrong, but after about a week I realized it was something more. It just feels very sore and achy and blocked ... and then heads up my upper back and shoulders into my head, which feels kind of heavy and congested. Any thoughts? I feel OK other than that. Achy

From experience I'll say neck and shoulder pain can be tricky to diagnose and treat. If you don't feel 'electric' shooting pains, that's good, it sounds like no nerve-pinch. Ask yourself what (besides poorly-supportive mattress/pillow) could be responsible: poor ergonomics at desk or computer? Carrying a child who's getting heavier? Slender build with not much shoulder-strength (which can cause pinched tendon, when joint is not held right)? The stuffy head could be a ''referred'' discomfort up from shoulder to neck to head, as you try to compensate for discomfort with postural changes or rigidity. OR there could be some nasty sinus something that's causing pain below; that's just a possibility.

Please see a physician and get a referral. My shoulder problems originated in a bad workstation, and have largely cleared up because a physical therapist prescribed exercises that strengthened the muscles that keep my shoulder blades from poking out. This took me 20 years to get right! Be persistent and questioning; if surgery is recommended, do research to verify it's truly appropriate. Nils

Have you started new exercise routine lately? If so pay attention to your posture to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly. If not... It sounds like you need a chiropractor to start. You will probably need three to four sessions about two to three weeks apart for your body to be adjusted. After that you should see them every other month or so. First check with your insurance provider, some of them cover part of the cost and they will refer to which one to go. Another thing that does help a lot after you go for your first visit is to keep a close eye on your posture and make sure to keep your back straight for everything you do. Cecilia

MASSAGE MASSAGE MASSAGE....That would at least be the first step to take. There are many many fabulous massage therapists in the area and I'm sure you'll get plenty of recs.

I've recommended Em Squires a couple of times recently on the BPN ... and I'm doing it again for you! She's a PT who does manual therapy out of The Working Body in Oakland (LAke Merrit). My wife has had 3 spine surgeries, etc.,has had serious nerve pain, shoulder pain, etc. and Em's appointments and her suggested exercises have made a significant difference in her pain levels. Em will also recommend chiropractic adjustments or orthopedic appt. if something is not in her PT scope. Rachel

For over 30 years I had lower back, shoulder, and neck pain, and I was helped by excellent massage therapists and chiropractors, but other than paying them my role in my healing process was relatively passive. I also had physical therapy several times and benefited from it as well, but I'm not disciplined enough to change my routines and exercise for the rest of my life. After years of periodic flare ups and these sort of interventions I woke up one day with acute back pain and could barely walk. In the course of dealing with this, which included getting drugs and seeing a physical therapist, I went to see an Alexander Technique teacher in Richmond named Cindy Buff. At the end of her initial assessment, which included treatment, she said two things that made a huge impression on me (1) you were an accident waiting to happen and (2) I can fix you. In the 30 years that I had sought explanations, everyone else had surmised what was the likely cause of my back pain whereas Cindy knew. Granted, what she knew was not in a language I could understand because she was articulating what she felt in her hands and she used Alexander terminology, but I already felt a lot better from whatever she'd done. I saw her for the next 5 years. I have not be laid up with pain since that day. The Alexander Technique is a muscle re-education system that is transforming.

I left out one detail, 20 years ago I saw a different Alexander Technique for a year and the work wasn't transforming. Just like masseuses, chiropractors, and PT's, not all Alexander Teachers are created equal. Cindy is exceptional. She understands what underlies pain, she knows how to address acute problems, and she knows how to train your body to become pain free. She works out of her home in Richmond and can be reached at (510) 235-3393.

Calcific tendonitis (excruciating shoulder pain)

Feb 2007

Do you know anyone who has had calcific tendonitis? I'd be very interested in their experience, recovery and what helped in the process. Calcific tendonitis:
  • excruciating pain in the shoulder which starts suddenly (after a long, un-noticed build-up), and is unremitting
  • due to a build-up of calcium at the rotator cuff
  • pain seems to come as the calcium, which coats rotator cuff tendons, begins to resorb


I sympathise deeply, this is really very painful. I had only one episode of this calcific tendonitis, about 6 years ago. My doctor sent me to a physical therapist, which didn't help in the first place, though I think that in the long term the strenghening exercises have prevented recurrence. What helped me most at the time of the onset was accupuncture and some strong anti-inflammatory as well. I never got an explaination of why I had developped these deposits, the trigger was probably a yoga session where my shoulder was over stimulated. Good luck to you. anon