Baffled with neck ligament tightness

This has been a constant problem throughout this whole process. Chiros and PTs alike telling me my cervical spine is subluxed or in a state of protection. Most recently, my craniosacral treatments will relax those ligaments only to have them go right back into that protection mode.

I can feel this tightness in my neck along the path of the front deep neck flexors and wonder if it’s what’s cintributing to my GPN.

Pre-op, I’d do the exercises and everything would flare up as soon as I tried to progress the exercises from simple chin tucks. Now, I’ve been doing doing some advanced exercises with minimal issues (although today I feel a bit more cinched down, perhaps too much, too soon with advanced exercises).

I was hopeful my issues were ES related given all fingers point to it but it really feels that it’s something else- my gut feel is stomping at me.

I wonder if having that calcification could’ve hindered previous strengthening efforts and might be more successful now? With this issue, what else could I explore besides strengthening? I am unable to really find why I’m so locked up and frankly, don’t know who I could visit with outside of a PT.

Any advice or thoughts, please?

1 Like

I think the fact that you can do more exercises without a flare up now is really promising, there’s clearly some improvements there since surgery, take hope from that :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
If you think about how long you’ve had these issues, I would think that it’s quite soon for everything to suddenly go back to normal, it’s not surprising that your C-spine, muscles etc are still in protection mode. I’m really sorry, I have a jelly brain & can’t remember if your styloids were both elongated & if you’ve just had the one side done? If so, this can flare up after surgery, so it could be contributing to the neck issues…
It’s also worth checking your posture too with the chiro or PT, as that can contribute a huge amount to muscle tension & putting everything out of balance. I do still have some nerve pain with the Trigeminal nerve, it gets worse with muscle tension, I still have spells where the neck muscles, shoulders & jaw all get tensed up & it sets it off, I know posture does contribute to mine…
@vdm has done alot of work himself with exercises etc around all the muscles so hopefully he can give you some advice.


@Jules, thank you for the reply. I’m trying so hard to understand this so I can do my best to treat it.

1 Like

I’m seeing a Certified Yoga Therapist for my PT needs. She is very, very good. One thing she has mentioned to me in the past is that our bodies develop coping strategies, and it can take a long time to teach them how to change.

I’ve had some trauma in my life, so I’m particularly prone to “protective “ muscle patterns.

She has also told me that I must strengthen as well as stretch, which took me a while to understand. Every time I “release “ a muscle she has trained me to strengthen it as well.
(I’ve been seeing her for years for back pain before she helped identify Eagle’s)


So very valuable to the answers I’m seeking and to understand! Thank you token :blush::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


@Tjmhawk01 not much to add from my side, only that I started learning anatomy (but I forget things so quickly now :frowning: ) and based on that, I compare my movement patterns to the supposedly “correct” patterns on various YouTube channels, esp. Lyon university ones

And then slow self-observation and retraining.
I literally re-learned how to walk, sit, and use my right arm at the shoulder. Still, old bad habits are very difficult to eliminate, so I slip time to time. But in general the results speak of themselves.


Thank you, @vdm :blush:. I appreciate your contributions very much!


Ask your PT about dry needling if you haven’t already! I’m in a similar spot to you, with my neck muscles being tight almost all the time. It’s like if I could just get my neck ligaments to “let go” all the pain would be gone.

Essentially it’s acupuncture needles that they put into the pain area and run current through them, making your muscles involuntarily contract and also relax- from what I understand. I had this done a few times (hoping to get back at it after I heal from surgery) and the results lasted a few days, which is more than I’ve ever had. It’s not super fun, but I’ve heard it’s helpful for a lot of people.

I’ve also had some success with a cervical pillow at night. It didn’t help long term, but I had a good couple months of waking up without any neck pain.

Hoping you see some healing results very soon!


Thank you Emma- boy, can I relate to just getting things to “let go”!! I feel exactly the same!

I’ve had lots of dry needling over the years and I may very well explore it again.

The hard part is that it’s very deep…my PT specifically referenced the cervical ligaments (I’ll need to inquire more on this to be sure) so I’m unsure if dry needling can be done in these areas especially in the front of the neck. There’s so much unknown!

But as Jules stated, it’s a win that I can do more advanced strengthening exercises without any major issues so I’ll keep at that for sure.

I also have a TENS unit at home that I’ve been using for the last several days. I’m using it mostly in a feeble attempt to calm things in my neck. It may be all in my head but I think it’s helping to wake up those nerves along my jaw from surgery —I’m gaining more feeling in that area! That’s a bonus :blush:

Thanks again for bringing up dry needling…I’ll certainly ask my PT more related questions about that- maybe there’s a way around to help with the deeper tissue. And glad I’m not alone in this crazy post op zone and unwinding all the damage!


Ah darn! I should have figured you’d tried it before haha. Totally makes sense that you can’t do it on the deep areas- and good to know. Would love to hear if you find anything that does end up working well in “releasing” your muscles!

Glad to hear that you’re moving in a positive direction- It gives me hope I’ll start feeling that too one of these days.

Very interesting to hear that then TENS unit is giving your some relief. How long/frequently do you use it?


I’m trying to get and keep positive momentum! Sometimes I just want to reset the clock, go back and start over with having my CT reviewed by one of the out of state doctors who are far more superior with ES as a whole.

Knowing I’m a person who wants connected answers that make sense, even if it’s hard to predict the outcome, makes this process so much harder.

I’m tempted to reach out to another more broadly ES experienced doctor on our list here and ask them to review my symptoms, most recent CT and surgical notes to assure that things were reviewed thoroughly to begin with and try to get a better understanding that’s specific to my case.

As for the TENS, mine goes in 15 minute cycles. I’ll use it very low for about 30 mins once or twice a day. I haven’t gotten too much relieve on the neck tension but I really think it’s helping the jaw numbness. This might sound dumb but while driving I’ll even use something laying around in my truck (gum wrapper, water bottle cap, key, or whatever) to just swipe across the numb areas to try and stimulate some feeling. Why not? I have nothing else to do while driving :wink:

It looks like you and I had surgery on the same day? May 4th? I hope we both start seeing notable improvements and can find a connection to why these soft tissue areas are so locked up! Feel free to DM me any time to vent, chat or whatever! This is a tough process and still pretty full of unknowns!


I just found this brief post from our member @ann from a few weeks ago. It might be helpful for you gals who are dealing w/ soft tissue neck & shoulder tightness:



After surgery I needed to work on my tight muscles in my face neck and shoulders. I used a release technique called Myokinesthetics by Dr Mike which you can google. It took about 6 months of therapy


HI Tjm,
Sorry to hear you are struggling with this. My deep neck muscles are the bain of my existence and I understand how dry needling or any type of injection in those front neck muscles are a bit off limits. I have struggled for decades with these muscles.Back and forth from relaxed to tight again. Seems like any type of body work is only temporary. I recently started PT again primarily for possible TOS and had to stop after 2 visits because of what I think is nerve compression in my neck. I have gone back and forth on those gentle neck strengthening exercises and its a fine line from helping to pushing you over the edge into a flair.
I had acupuncturist use the tens on my neck after 2nd ES surgery and it did help turn on the nerves. I was pretty surprised. Acupuncture before ES Surgery #2 (without tens) just caused my neck to flair so go figure?
I seem to recall having the dry needling lower in the neck on the sides and back to muscles that go up into the neck. Never in the front of the neck like you are referring to. All my botox is done with this approach too…never in front of the neck…at bottom on sides where the muscles feed into the neck, jaw and occipital area.
I found that once in my life, when I had weekly bodywork done PT /OT, massage and cranial sacral for 6 months several times a week, I reached a good level. A few months after I stopped, I noticed how irritable I was…that bodywork did wonders for my mood. I have had several osteopaths suggest working on pilates (machines only, not mat work) to strengthen my core which would help posture and help stabilize the neck muscles better. I know I have lifelong patterns of holding my body in defensive positions. I just havent been a position especially since COVID to find a place to do pilates machine or is there a decent Cranial Sacral person in my area. The OT I found was highly competent and trained under Upledger Institute with lots of hours under her belt. She was very good at structural integration work.

I recently was watching some good tube video of a Dr. Henderson (east coast) who specializes in Chiari and CCI. It was very enlightening. He mentioned how crucial it was to have near perfect posture and to find a therapist who was familiar with neck instability (seen in EDS patients) to retrain your body to be held differently. Something about gentle isometric neck exercises 6 times a day.

I would tend to think at about 12 weeks out, you could start gentle exercising. I personally know that if I strengthen my core (as well as lose 30 lbs I gained the past year), it will put my neck in a better position to start to strengthen. Unfortunately, I think I may need some more decompression surgery in my neck before I turn to the neck strengthening. I dont know if that helps.

1 Like

Oh wow, yes we did have surgery on the same day! Interesting case study to see how healing goes for both of us haha. Thank you for all the support, and same goes here. If you ever need someone to chat with or vent to I’m always here. This is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, and knowing I’m not alone is such a relief. Us ES folks all have to stick together!

Definitely keep me updated on how your healing goes!