Rotated C1 and shoulder pain

(tl;dr - scroll to the last video at the bottom of the post)

Lately I started noticing more and more people suffering/complaining/reporting their rotated C1 vertebrae. I had it (can’t say if I have it now or not, as my last CT scan was about half a year ago) in the past, between 5 and 10 degrees.

Among the other reasons, I suspected it might be due to imbalance between the left and right shoulder muscles.

In the past, I was suffering from my shoulders moving differently, the left vs the right one. It felt that one of them was moving with more scapular involvement that it should. I am an avid anatomy learner, so eventually I created this theory, that C1 rotation might be caused by certain muscles being too weak on one side and too strong on the opposite. Neurologists and even most of the physiotherapists I used to see obviously laughed at me at that time and just said I need to focus on the functional aspect of my arm - as long as I can lift my arm up above my head, I’m totally fine. In fact I wasn’t. Far from feeling “fine”.

One of the muscles involved (my theory has much more components and muscles, including suboccipital muscles, long capitis muscles etc, but in this post I will focus on the shoulder and scapula) is the levator scapulae.

The origin involves the C1 vertebrae, thus if the left and right lev.scapula muscles are severely imbalanced, they may start affecting the C1’s position over the time.

So I basically over the time retrained my shoulder. They aren’t perfect (yet) but the difference is like day and night. I used to have severely winging R scapula which now mostly subsided. Now both shoulders, when I don’t forget it, move similar to each another.

It mostly became possible after I learned what the proper shoulder motion cycle should look like:

These videos were vital to understand what I should “feel” inside (i.e. which muscles to what extent should be activated during the motion) and how to rewire the brain-muscle connection.

But what really surprised me is that just a few days ago a video popped up into my queue describing exactly the problem I used to have, and the mechanism behind it, which many neurologists, physiotherapists, sport medicine doctors and physiatrists failed to explain.

Here it is (from 3:17). The key that I discovered independently was brain-muscle retraining that not only needs practice by doing the exercises regularly, but also theoretical understanding what muscles should be engaged at what time.


Thank you! Like others, my journey has been long and started with a whiplash accident when I was a young adult. As time has gone by I have used a huge number of interventions to keep me moving forward. Three years ago, I started noticing problems with my left first rib and began a process of understanding that and seeking treatment.

In December of last year, I decided to take a stab at going back after my left sided neck dysfunction for which my strategies seemed to becoming less effective. I went first to physical medicine and rehab to see what options there were. I specifically had identified the levator scapula as a muscle I needed to understand. I had left-sided weakness, a dropped shoulder, an a prior severe, winging scapula, possibly from my cervical fusion surgery (?) and it felt that things were deteriorating.

It was during that process that I met my styloid. I am confident that I will benefit from these exercises and know that I absolutely have a significant difference between my left and right side. One of the harder things in going through this process is knowing that I’ve not been able to do the things I know I need to do to get better. I.e. strengthening my body.

So, thank you very much for putting this together. It is late here and I will look at with fresh eyes tomorrow. )))


Thank you for sharing all these videos & the knowledge you’ve gained @vdm , you are such an asset to this site :+1: :hugs:


Great presentation, @vdm! It’ll definitely help me, too! We appreciate that you’re an avid anatomy learner with a willingness to share your knowledge!!