Debunking Neck Pain and Finding Relief

Posted on: December 10th, 2018

Your neck doesn’t only hold up your head. It also plays an important part in holding and protecting blood vessels and nerves that run from the brain to the rest of the body. With such an important job, it’s important that the neck stay healthy and in proper alignment, otherwise, pain can occur.

Neck pain is common among adults and can occur as sudden pain, or chronic pain, lasting over time.

Why could you be having neck pain?

  • Head leaning forward. So much of our lives are spent with our heads forward, in front of our shoulders. This happens when we’re texting, playing on our smartphones, using a computer, sitting at a desk, reading a book, etc.

This puts a lot of pressure on our shoulders, especially since the average human head weighs about 13-14 pounds. On top of this, for every inch that your head moves forward on your shoulders for an extended period of time, the tension across your shoulders increases by 10 pounds!

That’s a lot of weight being distributed across your shoulders! And this weight can cause:

  • Tension
  • Muscles to overwork and fatigue
  • Vertebrae misalignment
  • Nerves getting irritated and tender
  • Childhood injury. A lot of neck problems aren’t from something you’ve recently done, but from something you did as a kid. This could be a fall, bumping your chin after coming down a slide, roughhousing with your siblings, sports injuries, etc. It could be any injury that changes how your neck winds up working.

This injury usually goes untreated or unnoticed. Too many times we treat what we can see, such as a cut or a bruise, but what happens on the inside is never properly treated, and may lead to pain and problems later in life.

Progression of neck pain

As mentioned, neck pain is something that usually begins with an injury from youth, maybe even while you were born, and symptoms don’t typically tend to show up until later in life.

Tension from the problem usually begins to appear in your twenties. It usually goes untreated or undertreated because it just isn’t “bad enough” and it’s blown off. Sometimes we just mask the problem by taking an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol.

By the time you’re in your thirties, tension across your shoulders or lower back winds up becoming a regular thing. You may have this several times a week.  Many people this age will treat it with a massage or physical therapy, but it keeps coming back.

If the cause of the problem is not resolved by your forties, you may have neck and shoulder pain along with numbness and tingling all the way down to your hands or leg.  You may be told you have a disc injury or sciatica.

Many people look to surgery, injections, and medications to get rid of the pain, but do not correct the actual cause and usually leave the cause to persist.

By your fifties and sixties, this can turn into regular pain and stiffness in your neck. If this is the case, simple, everyday things such as looking in the rearview mirror may be difficult.  Keeping up with your kids or grandchildren can become difficult.  You may look to travel lighter because it is hard to carry larger bags.

At any point in this cycle (the earlier, the better), you should get checked by a chiropractor to find the cause of these problems and stop them.  The team at Align Wellness Center can help you with that.

Now that we’ve looked at why you may be experiencing neck pain, you may be wondering what you can do about it.

Here is how you can begin to treat your neck pain at home:

  1. Exercise your neck.

Here are some exercises you can do on your own. These are basic, common movements and are safe and effective for reducing chronic and acute neck pain.  I will also include a video of us doing them to see it easier.

Note: You should not feel any pain when performing these exercises so if you feel pain, stop immediately.

  • Side to side. Move your head side to side as far as you can, saying the word “no.” Do this 10 times on each side.
  • Up and Down. Look up as high as you can, and then look down as far as you can. Repeat this 10 times as well.
  • Ear to shoulder. Move your head so that your ear meets your shoulder. This does not mean shoulder to ear. Keep your shoulder down and move your head until it reaches your ear. Repeat this 10 times on each side.

If this is a new pain, we recommend you ice it for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, and 20 minutes on again to complement the stretches.  If the pain does not respond or persists give us a call to see if we can help.

  1. Sit properly in your car.

Like many of us, you may have a long commute to work and this means a lot of time spent in your car.  It’s important to get into your car properly and sit the right way.

  • To get in your car, first sit down, put one leg in, then the other. Scoot your bottom all the way back.
  • Sit so that your head is touching the headrest, which is actually designed to touch your head while driving. If you were to be in a motor vehicle crash, you would wind up developing less velocity of your head and neck, reducing the extent of injury from the crash.
  • Make sure you have proper support for your elbows. Your elbows should be well supported and not dangling down. Proper hand position is now “4 & 8,” not “10 & 2,” so this makes it easier to keep your elbows down and on the armrests.
  • Make sure your head is not hitting the ceiling and that you can see out of your rearview and side mirrors while facing forward.
  • Check out this video to see what we are talking about as well.
  1. Pay attention to how you sit at your desk.

Since many people are at their desk anywhere from 4-10 hours a day, it’s important to pay attention to how your desk is set up and how you’re sitting at it.

  • While sitting at your desk, make sure your ears are over your shoulders. As mentioned earlier, one of the main causes of neck pain is your head moving forward and causing extra tension on your shoulders.
  • Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle and have armrests.
  • Slide your chair under your desk close enough so your wrists are able to rest on the desk.
  • It’s a good idea to keep your mouse on the right and phone on the left.
  • Make sure your computer monitor is the correct height. You should have an angle of about 5 degrees, looking down from where your eyes are to the top of the screen.
  • Check out this video and you can see the suggestion in action.

So, you have neck pain, you’ve tried the tips we’ve mentioned, and still can feel the pain and symptoms. What can you do?

At Align Wellness Center, we have unique techniques for new symptoms or long-term pain.   The first step is for Dr. Gregg to examine your spine and identify what is going on and if you are a candidate for care in our office.  Our exam is unique and will help to identify if Chiropractic care is the right option to take care of your problems.

 If you are a candidate for care in our office you may be given spinal remodeling exercises, chiropractic adjustments, and Mirror Image Traction specific to your unique issues.

Spinal Remodeling Exercises

We use specific spinal remodeling exercises that are unique to you. Each exercise is based on your unique spinal curvature or deviation and will work toward correcting your problem.

Your spine will work better. The architecture of your spine will improve. You’ll absorb shock better. You will feel better.

The exercise I’m about to mention is done with a tool called the pro-lordotic stretcher. It’s a band that will be placed behind the neck. If may be right for you.

  • While placing this band behind your neck, you will stand against a wall with your head, shoulders, hips, and feet up against the wall.
  • You will bring your arms forward and around
  • Hold and count for 10 seconds.
  • Check out this video about how we may use these.

This exercise activates the muscles that help keep the cervical curve in an arch. The spine has three main arches to it and is designed to support integrity, structure, and function. When we lose these arches, spinal cords are pulled tight and irritated. If these problems are not treated it can eventually cause pain and disease.

Chiropractic Adjustment

Along with exercises to reshape your spine, we also offer adjustments to relieve tension, help muscles and nerves to work better, and create more mobility in your spine.

Adjustments are done by applying a gentle force to your spine to take pressure off your nerves.

First, Dr. Gregg will examine you to see if you are a candidate for Chiropractic Adjustments and where you need an adjustment.

There are two tools he typically uses to make adjustments: his hands and a tool called the ArthroStim. This instrument helps vertebrae (the bones in your spine) go back into place by applying rapidly beating, gentle impulses.

Mirror Image Traction

One of the reasons neck pain can reoccurring is that the actual cause of the pain is never corrected. Studies show if you have a proper curve in your neck, you’re less likely to have neck pain.

Some causes for a changed curve in your neck are:

  • Trauma, accident, injury
  • Desk position
  • Lifestyle

One of the most effective and natural ways to correct the spine’s curve without using surgery is Mirror Image Traction.

Mirror Image Traction is a sustained force over time and can be used to correct the curve in your neck.

A denneroll can be used to help restore your neck’s curve. A denneroll is only applied and prescribed for appropriate cases.

There have been about five controlled clinical trials on the impact the denneroll has versus physical therapy, and these were not just short-term trials. They included two-year follow-up studies.

If you’re having neck pain, the first treatment you should seek should be chiropractic care. It’s natural, non-invasive, and doesn’t have side effects or repercussions like other treatments such as injections, medications, or surgery.

At Align Wellness Center, we focus on the spinal remodeling process. We don’t just treat the pain. We correct the problem causing the pain. You won’t just feel better you’ll also work better.

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Align Wellness Center
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900 Skokie Blvd Suite 113
Northbrook, IL 60062