Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Neck Pain

Resolving Neck Pain with Cox Flexion-Distraction Treatment


Portrait of business woman with neck acheNeck pain can be amongst the most frustrating and debilitating conditions.  A painful neck can interfere with work, recreation, and your quality of life.  In many cases neck pain can also lead to headaches, adding further frustration.  To make matters worse, neck pain can often be difficult to treat with traditional therapies such as medication and stretching or strengthening exercises.

Now for the good news…

Cox Flexion-Distraction therapy has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched treatments for spinal conditions, including neck pain. In fact, Cox Technique can often provide dramatic relief when there are few other effective treatment options available. In this article we will briefly review the causes of neck pain, then discuss why Cox Flexion-Distraction is so effective in treating neck pain.


Cox Flexion-Distraction Technique has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched therapies for treating Neck Pain, and can often provide dramatic relief when there are few other effective treatment options available.


Understanding Neck Pain

While some neck problems can caused by conditions such as arthritis, cervical spine stenosis, or disc problems, by far, the most common type of neck pain is classified as “mechanical neck pain”. Unlike traumatic neck pain which is associated with a specific event or accident, mechanical neck pain develops slowly over time, and results from abnormal motion of the joints in the the neck. This is often confusing to patients as it is difficult to link their symptoms back to a specific cause or event.

Here’s how this work….

The neck, or cervical spine, consists of a series of 7 block-shaped bones stacked together to form a moveable column. As the neck flexes, bends, or twists each of these bones (anatomically referred to as vertebrae) will move such that each each vertebrae will contribute to the overall movement of the neck. This pattern of ‘shared mobility’ allows the the joint stress and muscular demand associated with these movements to be evenly distributed across a larger area, thereby helping to prevent overload at individual spinal joints and minimize the risk of injury.

However, proper health and mobility of the neck as a whole requires each individual vertebrae to be able to adequately flex, bend, and twist. But if any of the cervical joints become restricted it will force the other joints in the neck to move more than they are normally designed to in an effort to compensate for the restricted area. This altered movement within the neck will create stiffness and tension around the joint that is stuck, as well as excessive stress and strain to the joint that is moving more than normal.  The muscles surrounding the neck will also become tight and irritated as they are working harder against the abnormal joint motions.

As this process continues over time it will lead to joint and soft tissue injury, inflammation, and pain. In addition to the neck itself, it is also common for symptoms such as pain and muscle tension to be referred to the shoulders and head, depending on which joints are involved (see figure below). (In some circumstance mechanical neck pain can also refer pain down the arm, but arm pain is more commonly related to a cervical disc herniation or cervical stenosis – these tend to be much more serious conditions).



Treatments for Neck Pain

Traditional Treatments for Neck Pain

In an attempt to treat neck pain, a variety of treatment methods are commonly used, including medications, stretching or strengthening exercises, or traditional chiropractic/joint manipulation techniques. While in many cases these approaches can be helpful in managing neck pain and stiffness, many of these therapies are often limited in their effectiveness and/or provide only temporary relief.

Medications generally address the neck pain symptoms but do not address the actual health, stiffness, or abnormal motion of the spinal joints. Stretching exercises can be helpful, and are usually an important part of home based supportive care and management of neck pain. However, the effectiveness of stretching is limited as it is impossible to focus the stretch at the specific joints of the spinal column which are causing the problem. In fact, many traditional neck stretches often force the healthy joints to move more than normal to in an attempt to compensate for the tight joints that are the problem. This can actually cause stress and damage at the healthy joints.  Of course, basic home based stretching and strengthening exercises are an important part of neck pain treatment and rehabilitation, but must be done properly, with the right form, and at the right time. Neck exercises to improve strength will help protect and stabilize loose joints, but will have no effect on joint restrictions.

Traditional chiropractic adjustments/joint manipulation procedures to loosen tight and restricted joints can also be helpful in some cases of neck pain, but can often be uncomfortable, or patients may be nervous to receive such treatment. Furthermore, research has shown that it is difficult to affect specific joints with this type of treatment, which leads to the same problems associated with stretching (1,2).


Resolving Neck Pain with Cox Flexion-Distraction

[responsive][/responsive]Cox Flexion-Distraction therapy is a comfortable, hands-on, non-surgical treatment for spinal pain and dysfunction. In recent decades Cox Therapy has emerged as one of the most effective, safest, and well researched treatments for spinal conditions, including neck pain.

Cox Treatment is performed using a specially engineered treatment table that gently pulls and stretches the neck. With the patient lying face down on the table, the headpiece of the table can be slowly pulled down and away. Side-to-side motions can also be performed. These motions stretch the cervical portion of the spine, which pulls the vertebrae away from each other and acts to “decompress” and stretch/release the restricted joint. Each decompression stretch is applied in a rhythmical push-pull action five or six times for a total of about 20 seconds. This process is usually repeated three to four times.

As the spine stretches the doctor is able to focus the stretch at the specific level of restriction by applying a focal pressure to the damaged area with a specialized hand contact. The ability to direct the distraction effect to the exact level of joint restriction makes Cox Flexion-Distraction treatment more effective than traditional stretching,exercises and other distraction therapies or cervical traction devices which apply only a general stretch or traction.



How Long Will It Take To Feel Better?

One of the best things about Cox Flexion Distraction is how fast it can get results. Each treatment takes about 10 minutes, and although each case is unique and there are several factors that will determine the length of time it will require to fully resolve each condition, we usually find a significant improvement with neck pain can be gained in just 4-5 treatments.  Even in cases of long-standing neck pain that has not responded to other treatment approaches, or in cases involving degenerative and arthritic changes in the joints we have regularly found that Cox technique can often help provide relief from neck pain.


Get Relief with Cox Technique

To book an appointment to see if Cox Flexion-Distraction will be able to help with your arm or neck problem simply call our office, or you can book an initial appointment through our online scheduling system.


1) Ross JK, Bereznick DE, McGill SM. Determining cavitation location during lumbar and thoracic spinal manipulation: is spinal manipulation accurate and specific? Spine 2004; 29:1452-1457.

2) Perle SM, Kawchuck GN, Parrault T, Adams W. Radiographically determined anatomical location of point of peak pressure during pisiform and hypothenar contact manipulation procedures. Proceedings of the International Conference on Spinal Manipulation Oct 5-6. Toronto: Foundation for chiropractic Education and Research; 2002. p20.

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Posted on

May 26, 2014