Repetitive Strain Injury/Shoulder, neck & arm pain


Hi. I've been in extreme pain for 6 days now. Whilst I'm using my arms I'm fine. But as soon as I relax or drive I have extreme pain from my neck shoulder and down my arm. Over the days it's getting worse and I can't move my neck now. I've had a massage and taken anti- inflammatory medication but nothing has worked.
I'd really appreciate any advise you can give me.
Fond regards


Hi Mark,

The fact that you're saying it happens when you relax (your shoulders are dropped) or driving (your shoulders are also dropped), makes me suspect that one or several of your neck muscles are in spasm.  When your arms are raised these muscles are contracted, especially levator scapulae and trapezius. Both of these muscles originate at the top of your neck and insert into your shoulder blade, or shoulders.  

If they are in spasm, when you have your shoulder all the way down, the both muscles are being lengthened to their longest normal length, but spasms would have caused knots that have shortened them so "normal" is now stretching the fibers.

If you go to you can read some interesting information under the sections titled "Muscles and Pain" and "What's Happening Exactly."  Most massage therapists don't press and hold on the spasms, but rather they slide across the top of the spasm, even if they are pressing deeply into the muscle.  The movement is much better when it's static, keeping sustained pressure on the spasm.

The problem with anti-inflammatory medications is while they will send medication to the inflammation, if the CAUSE of the inflammation (a tight muscle pulling on the insertion point) isn't released, it immediately returns.

It's possible for you to self-treat the spasms successfully, the website will explain how you can learn to do that quickly, or you can find a therapist who is skilled at doing trigger point therapy and who is willing to stay static on the spasm for 30-45 seconds, rather then just quickly press and pass on to the next spasm.

Wishing you well,
    Julie Donnelly

Repetitive Strain Injury

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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