Book Review: The Neck Pain Handbook, Grant Cooper & Alex Visco (2009)

July 7th, 2009 11:59 pm by Kelly Garbato

Neck Pain 101

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

I received an advance review copy of THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. At thirty years of age, I’ve suffered from mild to moderate neck and back pain for about ten years. I attribute the pain to a number of causes, including PMS, long hours spent working in front of the computer, poor posture, stress, and less-than-optimal sleeping conditions. (I’m a guardian to five dogs, three of which like to hem me in under the covers at night. Consequently, my back pain is usually at its worst during the first hour of my day.) Exercise, especially yoga, has helped some, but neck, shoulder and back pain is still an occasional inconvenience. Thus, I was hoping that MDs Grant Cooper and Alex Visco might be able to offer some additional advice for alleviating my neck pain symptoms.

THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK is a nice introduction to the topic of neck pain. Cooper and Visco begin the discussion by outlining the structure and function of the human neck, so that the reader might gain an appreciation of her neck’s complex makeup. They then shift focus to the many causes of neck pain, some of which are preventable. They discuss proper posture, and offer ten at-home exercises the reader can employ in order to prevent and/or alleviate neck pain. The authors also discuss more radical treatments for neck pain, including cervical collars (of which they are not big fans), advanced imaging studies, trigger point injections, Botox, topical pain relievers, analgesics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, x-ray guided injections and surgery. They also briefly touch upon “alternative” treatments, such as glucosamine/chondroitin supplements (which I give to my two oldest furkids in order to ward off joint paint – a precaution actually recommended by my conservative, small town veterinarian), SAM-E, acupuncture and meditation. While this last batch of remedies might seem like quackery, the doctors are quick to caution that such treatments are experimental, unproven, a last resort and should not be employed unless under the supervision of a trained medical professional.

While THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK is a quick, easy and informative read, I was hoping for more do-it-yourself advice. For example, the authors describe the ten exercises presented in THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK as “an excellent starting point” – which makes me believe there are additional exercises they could have included, but chose not to. Which is annoying, as they also say that about 80% of neck pain can be attributed to poor posture and weak neck musculature. While the exercises presented are straightforward and relatively easy to understand, not all of them are new to me; indeed, I’ve already been performing a few for back strength and flexibility. Also, in addition to mentioning meditation for neck pain, the authors might have included a brief section on yoga, which has proven immensely helpful to me.

Other than these two small drawbacks, THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK is a nice overview of neck pain, particularly for those who are just beginning to research the topic.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

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