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Victoria, Chiropractor
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 590
Experience:  25 years overall experience in health care from hospital-based intensive care to private practice
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I have a snapping noise in my neck when I turn my head to the

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I have a snapping noise in my neck when I turn my head to the left and then again when I turn it back to the middle. I can not remember any way I could have injured my neck. This has been going on now for over 2 months. I saw a chiropractor who didn't xray but did adjust and had one massage with no success. He called a friend of his who is an orthopedic who said as long as there is no pain nothing they can do. The muscle in that area is starting to burn a little. Any suggestions?

Is your range of motion limited when you turn to the left vs when you turn to the right?

Does the "snapping" occur only sometimes or without fail every time you turn to the left and back to center?

At what point in the turn does this occur - for example half way or just before you reach the end of rotation, etc.??

Do you know why the massage was so painful - was it painful during, within hours afterwards, a day later, etc.?

Thanks for the additional information.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
  1. My range of motion is not limited.
  2. It occurs every time.
  3. It pops about half way when turning to the left and again when I'm looking straight ahead.
  4. The Chiropractor said I shouldn't have let them massage so deep, that when it hurt I should have asked them to stop but I didn't know that so I just let them do their job. It was painful at the time, within hours afterwards and probably for a week afterwards. It was so painful that night I would ask my husband to rub it and I could barely stand for him to just lay his fingers on my skin.

Sorry about the massage experience!

Painless "snapping" that is so consistent sounds like a tendon "catching" on a bony prominence that may be a little larger or "mishapened' on one side of the neck vs the other, so most likely it is in one of the deeper neck muscle groups. Unfortunately without being able to palpate your neck as you turn it, I am hard pressed to figure out whether it is happening between two tendons or the tendon and the bone.

Did the chiro give you any feedback that you could pass on to me that you think may be helpful?

If you were my patient, I would look for friction between moving parts which involves going along the myofascial plains between muscles, artificially limiting movement of one structure while the other moves over it, etc. - basically not something I can really tell you how to do. But I do think the key lays with massage techniques, but it need not hurt so much, in conjunction with some passive assisted joint mobilization techniques. Obviously something is not moving smoothly over something else. One would start by focusing on the muscles that rotate the neck to the left (that is assuming you feeling the "snapping" on the left) and since 50 % of neck rotation takes place in the upper cervical complex, I would start with the transverse process attachments in that area and work my way down. Also have the chiro check out your jaw.

On your own you can try heating up the neck with moist heat preferably and stretch it a various oblique angles and sideways angles. While in stretch position, have your husband press his fingers along the length of the tightened muscles, then sort of shake the muscle by grabbing it sideways. YOu can also do some light resistance exercises, pushing against the resistance of your hand into and out of rotation and side bending (do everything to both sides).

Since the snapping is painless, it really is nothing to worry about. Sorry I cannot be more useful, but give another massage therapist a try - look for one who has PT experience and work with the chiro a few more visits.

Warmest regards,

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