Doctors have to sound smart. We cant walk around calling things what they are, such as the infamous “crick in the neck.” We use code. Here’s the translation. Because these hurt and nearly everyone will have this at some point in their lives. These hurt! As far as what we call it – a CT complex is just the terms we use.
C – Cervical (neck)
T- Thoracic (upper back)
Thus, a “CT complex” and a “crick in the neck are basically identical. The difference is that “CT complex” is typically located just a little lower than the cervical spine. This issue is usually right where the upper back and neck meet.
These issues nearly always present with severe muscle spasm keeping you from looking one way or the other.
These can came on after twisting wrong or after a sneeze or cough.
Most often, you’ll just simply wake up with it. (medical speak: NO Etiology)
These hurt. The focus treatment with these issues is to resolve the pain as fast as possible. This takes a little explanation.
The capsules along the rib heads and upper spine are extremely sensitive due to the large amount of nerve endings. They are EXTREMELY RESPONSIVE TO INFLAMMATION. The protection mechanism along the spine is to put the muscles on “lockdown” mode when the ribs are deemed, “On Threat.” This is why you can’t move your head well, but understand-
The muscle lockdown is the body’s way of protection, it’s not the problem.
That makes a difference in how we treat this injury and how you should be treating the injury at home.
Despite the palpable and definite muscle spasm, the issue is happening at the capsule.
Treat the injury, not the spasm.
Use Ice, not heat. Stop the hot showers, massages, stretches, metal tools, desk corners, door knobs and kids walking on your back.
in my clinic, we treat these fairly simplistically:
1) Stop the inflammation (ICE yes / Heat No)
2) Get some generalized movement back. (Chiropractic treatment)
3) Get you the correct advice! (this article)
The injury is a small thing. The severity of pain is HUGE. Typically, 2 to 3 visits is all you’ll need for full recovery.