Are you one of those people who just cannot seem to hold an adjustment? Believe me; you’re not alone.  My first ten years of practice, I was routinely frustrated why some patients would hold adjustment so well; and others, with seemingly identical symptoms and x-rays, would not hold an adjustment more than a few days; sometimes a few hours.  15 years ago, I discovered a big piece of the puzzle —-  FASCIAL ADHESIONS & MICROSCOPIC SCAR TISSUE of the muscles surrounding the spine.

All muscles have sheaths around them called Fascia; the translucent, white / yellow, cellophane-like membranous connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves.  Not only is fascia arguably the single most pain sensitive tissue in your entire body; it cannot be seen with even the most advanced diagnostic imaging techniques, including MRI. This is one heck of a nasty combination — an incredibly pain sensitive tissue that cannot be seen with standard tests (HERE).

As long as the individual collagen fibers that make up the fascia are aligned parallel to each other, the tissue is stretchy and elastic.   Think of healthy Fascia in terms of long hair that has been combed out. If you run a comb or brush thru it, it glides smoothly and unrestricted.   But what happens when Fascia around the spine or neck is injured?  It ends up more like a hairball!

When the fascia along the spine is stretched beyond its normal load-bearing capacity, it begins to tear. Bear in mind that these tears are so microscopic that few doctors even realize what’s going on.  And those that do often hesitate to call this microscopic “Scar Tissue” by its official medical name — Fibrosis (HERE).

Fascial scarring can be caused by sports injuries, repetitive trauma, repetitive jobs, car wrecks, postural distortions, falls, child bearing, abuse, etc, etc, etc.  As strange as it may sound, the majority of the time, patients have absolutely no idea how they ended up with Fascial Adhesions.  Bottom line: If something causes fascia to stretch beyond its normal tensile capacity, it will cause a physical disruption of the tissue, leading to microscopic “scarring” and adhesion.  It’s a recipe for restriction and pain.

Those of you struggling to cope with Chronic Pain know exactly what all of this means.  When you go to various doctors (orthopedists, pain specialists, neurologists, etc), they will look at you as though you are crazy.  Or like you’re just another drug seeker.  Or trying to get on SSI Disability.  Or maybe they’ll just chalk it all up to birthdays. “After all Mrs. Smith, you aren’t as young as you used to be.

Whatever the case, their answer is almost always the same. A blank stare, a roll of the eyes, ridiculous explanations, and  always the recommendation for more pills.  Or injections.  The latest thing is prescribing SSRI’s anti-depressants and telling folks that their chronic back or neck pain is the result of Depression —– when just the opposite is closer to the truth (HERE).   For your benefit, I have included a blog post on SOLVING YOUR CHRONIC BACK PAIN YOURSELF, as well as several posts pertaining to CHRONIC NECK PAIN.


8 responses to “CHRONIC NECK or BACK PAIN


    Dr Russ,
    I am sorry to keep asking questions , is the fascia in the back the thoracic region joined to the galea in the head,,

  2. jay c.

    I have been having neck and back pain for quite a while (for years).. I have recently noticed that chunks of tissue on my back are just coming apart.. For the last week i have been going thru this .. Yesterday i noticed that my body was covered from head to toes all the material, like stringy type material, it felt very uncomfortable and made my body feel heavy.. about a few hrs later i noticed it became mushy and sticky and then bonded to different parts of me turned very stretchy and now overnight.. i realized that it might have been some kind of fascial rupture from my back somewhere, not sure.. but now the fascia feels extermely hard almost like plastic, it all over .. i feel like i have an amor of plastic surrounding my body inside.. i realize this cant be normal.. ive never heard of this, which of course is why i am researching it this morning.. our bodies healing mechanisms are truly amazing, but this is something i never knew to be possible.. plz respond…


    Please can you help me can fascia tear so badly in the back that it damages the subcutaneous tissues underneath , I had a very very heavy handed acupressure treatment , and my back feels like something is tearing ,
    I am coughing up what looks like fat ,. its a soft substance and its pale yellow, is fat around fascia

  4. Kristy

    Thank you so much for this site! I had a bad fall down a flight of stairs at work a year and ahalf ago. Been to all the doctors and had all the crazy looks. Workers comp won’t pay for anything since there is no official diagnosis. They just want to send me for pain management with no answers. I may finally have an answer and some relief if I can find a doctor to listen to me.

    Thank you!!

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