Posts for tag: Headaches
Neck pain can be acute (short term) or chronic (recurring or persisting for months and even years), but regardless, when you're in pain, relief is the first thing on your mind. Just as important as relief, of course, is finding the cause and ensuring you avoid the behavior / action that brought the pain on in the first place. Here are five common causes of neck pain – and why doctors of chiropractic are well-suited to relieve the pain and determine the underlying cause.
1. Poor Posture: Leaning over a desk all day or slouching in your office chair? You're bound to develop neck pain eventually, if you haven't already. Do this quick test: In an upright or seated position, round your shoulders and back (poor posture). Does it impact your neck as well? Exactly!
2. Monitor Madness: Staring at the computer screen for hours at a time? That's not good for your health (or sanity), but from a neck pain perspective, it's madness, particularly if the screen height forces you to crane your neck up (too high) or extend it down (too low).
3. Sleep Issues: Ideally, we spend a third of our day sleeping, so your sleep habits – for better or worse – can have a dramatic effect on your health. With regard to neck pain, anytime you sleep in an uncomfortable position, particularly one that stresses your neck musculature (think about side-sleeping while grabbing your pillow tightly, sleeping on your stomach with your arms out in front of you, or even sleeping on your back, but with a pillow that doesn't adequately support your neck), you risk neck pain.
4. Technology Overload: We may spend a third of our day sleeping, but we increasingly spend the other 16 hours typing, texting, tapping and otherwise interacting with our smartphones, tablets, etc. Bottom line: bad for your neck. One doctor has even coined the phrase, "text neck," to describe the neck pain that can result from this constant technology interaction.
5. The Wrong Movement: Twisting, turning, stretching and stressing your neck is an easy way to cause neck pain. While the muscles in the neck are strong, they can be strained, sprained and even torn, just like any other muscle.
It's important to note that beyond these common causes, various other health issues can also contribute to or directly cause neck pain, including fibromyalgia, cervical arthritis or spondylosis (essentially spinal arthritis), spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), infection of the spine, and even cancer. The good news is that a doctor of chiropractic can help identify which of these or the above causes is to blame.
When neck pain strikes, most people turn to a temporary solution first: pain-relieving medication. But that's not a permanent solution, of course, and it doesn't address the cause of the pain at all, which could be something relatively minor – or more serious. What's more, research suggests chiropractic spinal manipulation is actually more effective than over-the-counter and prescription medication for relieving both acute and subacute neck pain.
Suffering from neck pain? Then give your doctor of chiropractic a call. They'll help you relieve your pain and determine the cause so it doesn't return.
By Charles Masarsky, DC, FICC
If you've done any research on concussions, you have probably already familiarized yourself with the Zurich Statement1 and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's fact sheet,2 among other relevant literature. While public awareness of the problem is much greater today than it was 10-15 years ago, there is still much confusion among the general public. Here are some important points to be aware of and discuss with your doctor:
You Don't Have to Hit Your Head to Hurt Your Brain
Many people still think a blow to the head is required to get a concussion. There is now widespread scientific consensus that an injury to another part of the body can transmit enough force to the head to cause concussion. Therefore, all sorts of trauma, including sports injuries, assaults, slip-and-fall incidents and whiplash, can cause concussion.
A Concussion Doesn't Always Result in a Knockout
While a dazed feeling is common, loss of consciousness actually afflicts a minority of concussion victims. This fact still surprises many people.
The Concussion You Have Immediately Isn't Necessarily the Concussion You Have Eventually
The severity of the concussion may not be apparent until hours or days after the trauma. If this is not understood by those in close contact with the concussion victim, deterioration can be easily missed.
You Can't Just Snap a Picture of a Concussion
Ever suffered a blow to the head, but an MRI was done and found no concussion? The misconception that standard imaging will rule out concussion is still prevalent. A careful history and physical exam are essential in evaluating and following the concussion victim.
Concussions Don't Always Go Away by Themselves
Sadly, concussion victims are too often told to "walk it off," even today. While a majority of adults recover from signs and symptoms of concussion within 10 days (3-4 weeks for children and adolescents), a significant minority develop post-concussion chronicity.
An Injury That Hurts Your Brain Hurts Your Spine
The misconception that doctors of chiropractic have no legitimate role to play in managing the concussion victim is unfortunately widespread within the health professional community, as well as the lay public. It surely boggles your imagination that someone could emerge from a concussive injury and not have new subluxations or exacerbation of existing ones.3 Recent clinical findings indicate failure to correct these subluxations can be a factor in chronicity of concussion symptoms.4
- McCrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Aubry M, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport. The 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport Held in Zurich, November 2012. Br J Sports Med, 2013;47:250-258.
- "Facts for Physicians About Mild Traumatic Brain Injury." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services.
- Masarsky C. "The Concussion-Subluxation Complex." Dynamic Chiropractic, Nov. 15, 2015.
- Masarsky C. "Post-Concussion Patient Care: Relevance of the Chiropractic Adjustment." Dynamic Chiropractic, Aug. 1, 2014.
More Americans complain about headaches than any other health condition, including back pain; in fact, approximately 45 million Americans say they suffer headaches each year. That's one in every six people or more than 16 percent of the population. More than 8 million Americans visit their doctor seeking relief for symptoms of headaches each year. Unfortunately, the most popular treatment is over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medication.
There is some good news when it comes to headaches. There are safe and effective natural solutions available to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of various headache types. For example, chiropractic treatment is a highly sought-after alternative treatment for the debilitating effects associated with headaches. Let's learn about that headache you may be suffering from and how chiropractic can help you get rid of it.
Tension headaches: The most common type of headache is the tension headache. It is estimated that 80-90 percent of the U.S. population suffers from tension headaches at some point in their lives. There are two primary types of tension headaches:
- Episodic: Headaches appear occasionally, usually less than 15 times per month.
- Chronic: Headaches occur more than 15 times per month or on a consistent basis.
Tension headaches are intimately connected to abnormal posture, muscular tightness, joint stiffness, and restricted range of motion in the body. To obtain optimum health and function, it is important to remember that everything is connected and everything matters. Dysfunctional patterns of movement and posture affect how much tension and stress your body holds. The body must compensate for these dysfunctional patterns by any means necessary, and it accomplishes this by altering tension points.
Muscles attach to anchor points on bone and act as primary movers and stabilizers for your body. Mover muscles are used get you from point A to point B, such as a getting up out of a chair. Stabilizer muscles control that movement so you don't fall down while standing up. Abnormal posture and altered tension points on bone anchors puts too much wear and tear on muscles and joints. Your brain and nervous system must compensate for this dysfunction by altering blood flow, muscle movement patterns and breathing. These alterations often lead to tension headaches.
Migraines: The second most common type of headache is the migraine headache. Approximately 16-17 percent of the population complains of migraines. These headaches are far more debilitating than the tension-type headaches. More women than men suffer from migraine headaches, leading researchers to believe there may be a hormonal component to migraines. The majority of migraine sufferers report some sort of trigger that kicks of their headaches (food, drink, smell, etc).
How Chiropractic Can Help
Chiropractic care can help alleviate the symptoms of tension and migraine headaches by improving and restoring normal postural patterns. Chiropractic treatment is aimed at normalizing muscle tension, restoring joint range of motion, and stabilizing the body to reduce abnormal stressors. Optimizing postural control of the head and neck reduces the workload your muscles must apply just to keep your head up during the day. Proper spinal alignment and muscle control helps give the body a fighting chance of avoiding a tension headache.
Proper breathing is essential to relaxation, blood flow, and oxygen supply to the brain and body. Abnormal posture, which can include such dysfunctions as rounded shoulders, neck forward over the shoulders, slouched positions and tightness in the hips from sitting all day, decrease lung capacity. This decreased capacity alters how much you breathe, how often, and from where.
Headache sufferers tend to breathe more from their chest and shoulders as opposed to their diaphragm. This leads to repeated elevation of the shoulders and upper back muscles hundreds of times a day, leading to increased tension in the head and neck. Chiropractic restores function to the spine, ribs, and hips to maximize breathing and good postural control. Better breathing equals better health.
If you're suffering from headaches and are tired of taking pain-relieving medication day after day, your doctor of chiropractic will work closely with you to determine likely triggers for your headaches and make subtle changes in your activities of daily living to empower you to take back control of your life.
Perry Nickelston, DC, is clinical director of the Pain Laser Center in Ramsey, N.J., where he focuses on performance enhancement, corrective exercise and metabolic fitness nutrition
In the U.S., there are a minimum of 300,000 sport-related concussions per year. If your child is in contact sports, there’s a risk of the contact ending up in a concussion. In fact, research suggests that the number of documented cases of concussions among children is on the rise, and is a source of growing concern among soccer and football players.
Chiropractors may not be the first medical professional you imagine when it comes to concussion management, but many chiropractors are trained to spot the signs of a mild traumatic brain injury and support the patient in a successful recovery. Two recent literature reviews outlined how chiropractors can effectively manage athletes with concussions.
Is Chiropractic Treatment Valid for Concussion?
Chiropractors are often the first healthcare provider to care for patients who are suffering from a head injury, such as those incurred in sports or car accidents. Chiropractors, especially ones who are certified additionally by the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians, regularly manage athletes who suffer from concussions.
Chiropractors use a specific assessment tool called the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2) to evaluate, assess, and manage concussions in athletes 10 years and older with the end goal of safely returning the athlete back to the sport. This assessment tool is used to evaluate symptoms, physical signs, Glasgow Coma Scale, sideline assessment using Maddocks score, cognitive assessment, balance, and coordination. Vomiting Blurred Vision Stumbling Increased Confusion Unconsciousness Dilated Pupils Weakness in on arm/leg Worsening Headaches
They understand that if certain symptoms are indicators that the neurological symptoms are worsening:
- Vomiting Blurred
- Vision Stumbling
- Increased Confusion
- Dilated Pupils
- Weakness in on arm/leg
- Worsening Headaches
Because a concussion is a brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head, neck or face, there’s a good chance that the blow has caused a misalignment of the cervical spine. This is similar to whiplash causing a misalignment of the cervical spine. A chiropractor can evaluate whether you demonstrate signs of neck injuries commonly associated with concussions, and provide you with relief from neck pain and cervicogenic headaches.
According to the literature reviews, one of the most important recommendations that a chiropractor will tell you what to do for concussion is this: If your child is in sports and suffers a blow to the head, and/or experiences signs of a concussion, do not let him continue playing the sport. He or she needs to rest until totally healed from the concussion. Only after symptoms subside is it time to get back into the game. Ease into the sports play again. Don’t expect to jump back in, full force. This will prevent the return of symptoms.
Additional guidelines your chiropractor will give you for concussion include no alcohol, aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, and sleep agents should be taken. Use Tylenol for pain if necessary. Do not drive until you can return to the sport.
In the meantime, your chiropractor will care for your child’s cervical spine and condition. If your child needs to be referred out to another health professional, your chiropractor will let you know.
Now let’s ask the question again. Chiropractic care for concussion? Absolutely?
Chiropractors can help with a range of other sports injuries, and one study even found that it was the most effective conservative method for reducing sports-related back pain.
Johnson, C.D., et al. Chiropractic and concussion in sport: a narrative review of the literature.Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2013 (12):216-229.
Shane, E.R., et al. Sports Chiropractic management of concussions using the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 2 symptom scoring, serial examinations, and graded return to play protocol: a retrospective case series. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2013 (12): 252-9.
What is neck pain?
Neck pain can be so mild that it is merely annoying and distracting. Or, it can be so severe that it is unbearable and incapacitating.
Fortunately, most minor, posture-induced neck pain episodes clear up on their own after rest and efforts not to repeat the offending stresses on the neck.Most instances of neck pain and stiffness are minor, and commonly caused by something you did. That is, if you keep your head in an awkward position for too long, the joints in your neck can "lock" and the neck muscles can become painfully fatigued. The price you pay for carelessness in how you position your head and neck (for instance, while working, watching TV, using a computer, reading a book, or talking on the phone with the receiver held against your shoulder and under your chin), is a pain in the neck. You may be one of the many unfortunates who, after a long and tiring day, has "harmlessly" fallen asleep in a chair or in bed with your head propped up, only to awake with a stiff and painful neck.
But neck pain that just won't go away after a day or so is a more serious matter. Neck pain that lasts for many days or keeps coming back is a signal that something isn't right.
Disease, an injury (such as whiplash in an auto accident), a congenital malformation, or progressive degeneration that can come with age may be responsible for the more significant pain you experience. An expert must determine the underlying causes of such neck pain. Examination, diagnosis and treatment by a doctor of chiropractic can relieve your mind and may quickly relieve your pain.
Who suffers from neck pain?
Almost everyone experiences some sort of neck pain or stiffness at one time or another. Because you are human and walk upright, your head is "balanced" atop your spinal column. If the muscles that support your head are not kept strong and in good condition, then the upper part of your spinal column is vulnerable to strains and injuries.
Older people, whose joints have been worn by much use over time, are subject to osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, or DJD. When this form of arthritis hits your back and neck, you feel it as neck pain that gets worse over time. The pain may radiate into your shoulders and arms, and you may feel numbness or tingling in your hands and fingers. Arthritis can also involve symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and even a grating/grinding feeling when you move your head. It is very important for your chiropractor to examine you to rule out osteoarthritis or identify it and see that it is properly treated.
What can chiropractic do?
Doctors of chiropractic have the training and skills to relieve your neck pain, overcome stiffness, and restore the mobility and range of motion of any frozen neck vertebrae. They are devoted to helping you get back to your normal pursuits and start feeling like yourself again.
Perhaps their most important contribution is their ability to bring their specialized diagnostic skills, techniques, and equipment to bear in assessing what is causing your neck problems. Your chiropractor can determine if you have a relatively minor and treatable condition or a more serious underlying condition (from disease, degeneration, or trauma) that may require more intensive, extended treatment or referral to a specialist.
Your chiropractor will ask you for detailed information on your behavior, posture, physical condition, and work and home environment. He or she will obtain x-rays and other diagnostic images to pinpoint which of many possible causes is a responsible for your discomfort. Only then will the appropriate treatment be recommended.
Once your normal feeling and function is restored, your chiropractor will be available to keep the muscles and joints of your neck and back in optimum condition in order to prevent recurrent neck pain and related life-restricting symptoms.
- Cassidy JD, Lopes AA, Yong-Hing K. The immediate effect of manipulation on pain and range of motion in the cervical spine: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 1992; vol. 25, pp570-75.
- Coulter ID, Hurwitz EL, Adams AH, et al. The Appropriateness of Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine. Santa Monica, CA: Rand, supported by the Consortium for Chiropractic Research, 1996.
- Hurwitz EL, Aker PD, Adams AH, et al. Manipulation and mobilization of the cervical spine: A systematic review of the literature. Spine, 1996; vol. 21, no. 15, pp1746-60.
- Jackson R. The Cervical Syndrome, 4th ed. Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, IL: 1978.
- Koes BW, Bouter LM, van Mameren H, et al. A randomized clinical trial of manual therapy and physiotherapy for persistent back and neck complaints: Subgroup analysis and relationship between outcome measures. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 1993; vol. 16, pp211-19.
- Koes BW, Bouter LM, van Mameren H, Essers AHM. The effectiveness of manual therapy, physiotherapy, and treatment by the general practitioner for nonspecific back and neck complaints: A randomized clinical trial. Spine, 1992;17, pp28-35.
- Koes BW, Bouter LM, van Mameren H, et al. Randomized clinical trial of manual therapy and physiotherapy for persistent back and neck complaints: Results of one year follow up. British Medical Journal, 1992;304, pp601-5.
- Zvulun I. Mobilizing the nervous system in cervical cord compression. Manual Therapy, Feb, 1998; vol. 3, no. 1, pp42-7.