Posts for tag: cervical
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.
You may have heard the saying, "the eyes are the window to the soul." There is another saying in the world of chiropractic, "your spine is the window to your health." How can the condition of your spine divulge so much information about overall health? Your spine is the central support column of your body and its primary role is to protect your spinal cord. Think of it like the foundational frame of a house holding everything together. If the frame becomes dysfunctional many problems will begin to manifest themselves. The house begins to develop cracks, shifts, and structural problems. When your spinal foundation becomes dysfunctional you develop aches, pains, injuries, and other health related issues. The good news is you can do a simple spinal health checklist to determine if you may benefit from the expert intervention of a chiropractor or other healthcare professional. Becoming familiar with simple spinal anatomy, structure and function will help empower you to take control of your health.
Your spine is composed of 24 bones (vertebrae); 7 in the neck (cervical spine), 12 in the middle back (thoracic spine), 5 in the lower back (lumbar spine) and the base tailbone (sacrum). Your soft spinal cord is encased inside these 24 moveable hard vertebrae to protect it from injury. Your spinal column has three natural curvatures making it much stronger and more resilient than a straight design. There are cervical, thoracic, and lumbar curves designed with precise angles for optimum function. However, these curves are different than the abnormal curves associated with scoliosis and postural distortions. You may remember getting screened in school or your doctor for scoliosis when they had you bend over and touch your toes. This was an early checklist for spinal abnormalities. Through life's stresses, genetics, trauma, injuries, and neglect the spine can develop dysfunctions in these curvatures and the body must compensate by changing posture as a protective mechanism.
What are some of the compensations your body develops and what can they tell you about spinal health?
Rounded Shoulders: This is a very common postural distortion resulting from more sedentary lifestyles. Hunching over in front of a computer screen hours on end simply feeds this dysfunction. This poor posturepattern adds increased stress to the upper back and neck because the head is improperly positioned relative to the shoulders. Common effects are headaches, shoulder, pain, neck pain and even tingling and numbness in the arms because of nerve compression by tight muscles.
Uneven shoulders: One shoulder higher than the other is indicative of a muscular imbalance or spinal curvature. You probably see this one on most people where one shoulder is migrating up towards the ear. Stand in front of a mirror and you can easily see if this asymmetry is present. You may also notice that one sleeve is longer than the other when you wear a shirt. This asymmetry is a common precursor for shoulder injuries, headaches, neck pain, elbow injuries and even carpal tunnel syndrome (tingling in the hands).
Uneven hips: Hips that are not level are like the foundation of a house that is not level. You begin to develop compensations further up the body so you remain balanced when walking. You develop altered spinal curvatures, shoulder positions, and head tilts. Your body has one primary purpose of maintaining symmetry and balance and it will do it whatever way is necessary. Signs of unbalanced hips may manifest in abnormal shoe wear typically on the outside edges and pants will fit unevenly in the leg length.
When you visit a chiropractor for a spinal evaluation some of the things they will search for during your evaluation are underlying signs of spinal damage that you can't see. Spinal x-rays are a safe and effective way to get look at your spine for damage or potential problems. Just like a dentist takes an x-ray of your teeth to see if you have cavities or problems with the bones below gum line. If problems are detected, corrective or preventive measures can be implemented to help your body function at optimum.
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD): This is not a real disease in the terms of how we think of them. DDD is term used to describe degeneration and excessive wear on the soft tissue disc structures between the spinal bones. It may come with age or from biomechanical asymmetries in movement causing excessive wear from overuse. Sort of like uneven treads on a car with imbalanced tires, one may be worse than the other. Although the degeneration cannot be reversed, once discovered there are strategies your chiropractor can implement rebalancing exercises and therapies to help prevent further damage.
Osteoarthritis: The breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that protects and cushions joints. Arthritis often leads to painful swelling and inflammation from joints rubbing together. The increase in friction causes a protective pain response and excessive swellingwhere the body attempt to add artificial cushioning via swelling.
Herniated disc: A herniated disc is an abnormal bulge or breaking open of a protective spinal disc or cushioning between spinal bones. Patient's may or may not experience symptoms with a herniated disc. Disc diagnosis is conformed via a special imaging study called an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) which observes soft and hard tissue structures. You cannot see or confirm a suspected disc herniation via normal spinal x-rays.
Spinal stenosis: The narrowing of the spinal canal the open space in the spine that holds the spinal cord. Stenosis is a more severe form of arthritis that typically causes radiating (referred pain down the arms or legs) from an irritated or compressed spinal nerve.
If you experience spinal pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, muscles spasms or swelling near your spine or arms and legs consult a healthcare professional. These are all warning signal signs from your body that something is wrong and needs your attention. Pain is how your body communicates its function with you. A car has dashboard warning lights that tell you when the car has a problem. If you chose to ignore the signals bad things are going to happen. Your body has its own warning light system. Start checking for the warning lights. Ignore them at your own risk.
Degenerative disc disease is misnomer, because it’s not really a disease. It is a term that refers to the normal changes in the spine as we age. In particular, it refers to the deterioration of our spinal discs, which are the soft, cushiony discs between our bony vertebrae.
Spinal discs are like shock absorbers, in that they separate the bones and allow the spine to bend, twist, and flex. Degenerative disc disease usually occurs in the lumbar region of the spine (lower back) and the cervical region (neck). It results in
- The breakdown of cartilage, also known as osteoarthritis
- The bulging of discs, also known as disc herniation, and
- The narrowing of the spinal canal, also known as spinal stenosis.
These conditions can lead to pain and nerve problems, due to pressure on the nerves and spinal cord.
The cause of degenerative disc disease is aging. Aging leads to a loss of fluid in the discs, making them more brittle and less flexible. They also become thinner, which brings the vertebrae closer together. In addition, small cracks or tears in the discs may cause leakage of the jellylike material inside. This causes bulging, breaking, or fragmenting of the discs.
Degenerative disc disease does not affect everyone the same way and at the same rate. It is usually worse among smokers and those who do heavy physical labor that taxes the spine. People who are overweight and obese tend to have worse symptoms as well. A sudden injury can also initiate the process of deterioration.
When the discs between the vertebrae get thinner, there is less cushion for the spine and it loses stability. In response, the body generates bone spurs, also known as osteophytes, which can cause pain due to pressure on the spinal nerves. The pain may be felt in the back or the neck, depending on the person and the location of the degeneration. Discs that are affected in the neck region can lead to pain in the arms or neck, while affected discs in the lumbar or lower region can lead to leg, back, or buttock pain.
Your doctor or chiropractor can diagnose degenerative disc disease through the use of a physical examination and a medical history. He or she will look for areas of tenderness, range of motion, pain, numbness, reflexes, and any additional conditions such as fractures or infections. Imaging tests are not particularly useful for degenerative disc disease. Treatment usually includes ice or heat, anti-inflammatory medications, and rest. Stretches and physical therapy are often recommended. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to remove the damaged disc(s).