How A.T. Helped a Surgeon

Kieran Tobin


At around the age of 40 years, I began to have problems with neck pain and restricted neck mobility to the extent that it was interfering with my work as an ENT surgeon. As the years went by the problem was sometimes quite bad and I had to manage it with the use of painkillers and other treatments from time to time, but these only gave me short-term relief. An MRI merely showed the expected wear and tear changes.

On retirement, I had anticipated relief, but this was not the case. Instead, the pain became quite an intrusion on my life and the limited mobility meant that I couldn’t turn my head, but had to turn from the waist instead.

A friend suggested that I tried the Alexander technique, and at first, I was somewhat sceptical that anything was going to work, but I can only describe the relief gained, and maintained, as quite incredible. With the help of Richard Brennan within a very short time, I was back to being quite mobile and virtually free from pain.

Since then I have attended Alexander technique sessions on a two-monthly basis for several years and I have been comfortable most the time. Unfortunately, a few years ago I developed an abscess on the intervertebral disc between C6 and C7 which was due to a dental source and required surgery and stabilisation. Despite this setback continuing with Alexander lessons kept me quite well.

However, due to the Covid 19 restrictions, I did not have any Alexander Technique sessions for almost four months and eventually I began to experience serious neck pain again on a constant basis. I have had a mild stoop for years and after my Alexander sessions, I always felt taller and lighter. Without my regular sessions, however, this stoop became very pronounced and any attempt to lift my head caused me serious pain in the back of the neck.

After consulting my Alexander teacher again we decided that a concentrated period of sessions over several consecutive days would probably be beneficial. I had four daily sessions initially and after a break of five days was followed by a further three daily sessions. But at the end of the time my posture had improved tremendously to the point that the stoop was gone completely. I still have occasional discomfort in my neck, but 90% of the time I am entirely pain-free.