Healthy Neck

Pain in the neck is more than a pain in the neck. It will damage your health. Here we explain what is healthy, what goes wrong, and how to fix it.

Anatomy of the neck

Your neck is a MARVEL of ENGINEERING. It has seven bones or vertebrae. The top two bones, called the ATLAS and AXIS, have a special relationship and sit in a critical location. The base of your brain, your BRAINSTEM, actually extends down into the top of your neck. The rest of the vertebrae have a soft disc between each one. The purpose of the discs is to leave space for the NERVES which exit at each level. Your neck is a remarkable structure, this is what you ask of it….

  • Hold the weight of my head; around 4-5kg!
  • Support the weight of my shoulders and arms. When I lift a weight, so does my neck.
  • Contain and protect the supply of blood, and CSF (the “irrigation”) to my brain.
  • Pass all of the important NERVES and their SIGNALS from my BRAIN to my BODY.
  • And still be able to move freely and look over both shoulders…!
  • It is no wonder that injuries to this area can affect ANY part of your health, and ruin your enjoyment of life.

Two Keys to a Healthy Neck

There are TWO KEYS to having a healthy neck, everything else follows:

Healthy Alignment

This is the most important, yet overlooked part of neck health. The alignment of your neck affects the probability of having pain and degeneration, and can affect much of your long-term health. Your neck should NOT BE STRAIGHT. It should have a deep, relaxed curve. This allows space for the spinal cord to relax without pressure, and for the fluid which irrigates your brain (CSF) to flow freely. Your head should also sit directly ABOVE your shoulders… tipping it forward just a little hugely increases the pressure on your neck and nerves, causing loss of curve, and long term problems.

Healthy Mobility

Your neck should turn all the way over both shoulders, tip to the sides, and look up at the ceiling WITHOUT PAIN OR RESTRICTION. The mobility needs to come from ALL levels of your neck. We often see patients who have certain areas which are heavily SUBLUXED. They don’t move well, they may be degenerated, and the nerves are under stress. But they have other areas which are HYPERmobile. They think their neck is fine, as they can look over both shoulders. But the SUBLUXATIONS cause major nerve stress, poorer health, and eventually spinal damage.

“Think about all that time staring down towards a mobile phone, and imagine how those thousands of hours will affect your neck curve, and ultimately your health.”

Glenn DuffyDoctor of Chiropractic

Two Types of Neck Damage

We mostly think of damage in terms of accidents- like car accidents or falls, and these are certainly important. However we all suffer far more trauma for something far less accidental…

Chronic Postural Trauma

For every 3cm your head moves forward, the pressure on your neck increases by over 5kg! So bent over your mobile phone, your neck now supports up to a 30kg weight! Now multiply this by the total hours you spend looking at screens per week, and you start to realise why we are seeing an epidemic of Deep neck problems.

The damage from this becomes permanent when your neck becomes subluxed, and although you return our head to an upright position, your neck stays subluxed. Over time the nervous stress robs you of your health. Eventually causing pain. It is no surprise that 1 in 3 office workers get neck and shoulder pain.


Even the smallest “whiplash” is a BIG DEAL! At only 8kph (fast walking speed), the forces on your neck can cause permanent damage. Think of falls playing sports, from the trampoline, or on the stairs through your life. The LONGER AGO it was, the BIGGER THE PROBLEM!

If you had a whiplash yesterday, your neck has not had time to scar or get into the bad habit of SUBLUXATION. It is relatively easy to stay well with the correct treatment. If it was 5, 10, 20 years ago, then that is a lot of scar tissue and HABIT to undo. It doesnt matter if it has been causing pain or not. In fact, some of the worst degeneration we see is when people have not had enough pain to act sooner!

More time = More scar = Bigger Problem = Slower to Heal Fully

Symptoms of an unhealthy neck

It would be easy to assume that neck problems cause… neck pain. But the problem is FAR bigger than that. The truth is that an unhealthy neck can cause such a wide range of symptoms and bad health. In many of these, it is not obvious that the neck is the CAUSE… Here are some of the problems caused by an unhealthy neck;