For years, Noel Prevost, a physician assistant in the Department of Dermatology at UPMC had experienced neck pain. She had tried everything from acupuncture to physical therapy and while the treatment options were helpful, the results served only as temporary relief for her neck pain.

“I was having neck problems for years and I always thought it was my cervical spine,” remembers Noel. “I had previously been in a fender bender and I went to a couple of physicians until I finally saw Betty Liu, MD, who thought it was related to my posture at work.”
Noel Prevost

Learn more about the conditions treated at UPMC Sports Medicine. 

Dr. Liu diagnosed Noel with scapular dyskinesis, abnormal movement of the shoulder blade. While this condition is considered a shoulder injury, it can also cause neck pain. With the help from Dr. Liu, Noel was referred to Ron DeAngelo, M.Ed., CSCS, Director of Sports Performance at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

When Noel first met with Ron, she discussed her health history and struggles with neck pain. He worked with Noel and introduced exercises in combination with stretching and strengthening to help improve her posture and relieve her neck pain. One exercise in particular had Noel puzzled when Ron introduced her to a balloon breathing exercise that would improve her diaphragm and overall posture.

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Go to for privacy and terms.

How does blowing into a balloon help? When a diaphragm does not move as it should, it causes bad posture which triggers the pain. By blowing into the balloon, it serves as a guide in moving the diaphragm, causing a forced exhalation which reduces the use of breathing muscles in the neck. This activity makes the oblique muscles work and places the hip flexors in a good position.

By practicing the exercises that Ron recommended, Noel no longer experiences the neck pain that once bothered her.

“Ron is absolutely amazing. He works wonders,” says Noel. “It’s fascinating how after an initial evaluation he knows exactly what is going on and how to remedy it.”  Once he treats you, you feel like a whole new person.”

Our patient stories profile a number of patients who have had treatment at UPMC. Although everyone’s care experience is unique, we hope that sharing these stories will help other prospective patients and their families better understand these procedures and their potential benefits.

*Noel’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.

About Sports Medicine

Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.