As health conditions go, neck pain is one of the most common complaints a person will experience at some point in their life. Our lifestyles play an increasingly important role in neck pain, with the rise in technology use, more time being spent behind a screen, and less time spent being active.
Neck pain can arise from several sources. The muscles of the neck can be strained from poor posture or injury, joints can wear down over time, discs can degenerate, and ligaments can become damaged. Neck pain and problems can also lead to headaches, pain in the shoulders, jaw, or ear, numbness and tingling down the arms and into the hands, and other associated symptoms. To prevent and care for neck pain, taking some simple steps can get you heading in the right direction.
Tips for Neck Pain Prevention
Overall, most neck pain is connected with wear and tear, poor posture, and age-related changes. Here are some tips you can focus on in your daily activities to keep you feeling good:
- If you must sit for extended periods of time, take regular breaks to stretch your neck and shoulders.
- Adjust your computer monitor so it sits at eye level. This might require you to put a box or stack of books underneath it to raise it up to the right height. Doing so will keep you from looking down and straining the muscles and joints in the back of your neck.
- Switch from a one-strap bag to a backpack. Carrying weight over one shoulder places uneven loads on the spine and can lead to pain and unequal muscle tension.
- Avoid stomach sleeping. Sleeping on your stomach forces your neck to be turned maximally to one side through the night. Transitioning to a back or side-sleeping position and selecting a pillow that keeps your neck in a neutral position can ease neck pain and stiffness.
- When talking on the phone, avoid cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder. At your workplace, try using a headset or speakerphone if possible.
- Hold mobile devices up in front of your face rather than in your lap. Staring down at a tablet or cell phone, often for extended periods of time, can easily lead to neck pain and degeneration.
- Reduce stress and tension as much as you can. Great stress-relieving activities might include taking a brisk walk over lunchtime, meditation, yoga, journaling, or reaching out to a friend to talk.
It isn’t necessary to implement all of these changes at once. Starting with one or two that appeal to you the most can give you a head start on getting some needed relief.
The Upper Cervical Chiropractic Advantage for Neck Pain Sufferers
Neck pain can be more complicated than it appears on the surface. The neck is a complicated arrangement of vertebrae, muscles, ligaments, and joints that all work together to provide support for the weight of the head and give your head the ability to turn freely in all directions. The upper cervical chiropractic approach is different from others in that we place our focus on the uppermost vertebra in the neck – the atlas. The atlas is unique for several reasons:
- It doesn’t have the support and cushion of discs above and below it, making it more vulnerable to injury and misalignment
- The atlas lacks the interlocking facet joints that the rest of the spine has. This is what allows it to move with such a wide range of motion, but it also leaves the atlas prone to misaligning due to accident, injury, or wear and tear.
- The atlas forms a critical junction between the skull and the neck. It surrounds and protects the brainstem as it exits the base of the skull and transitions into the spinal cord below.
When the atlas is misaligned, it starts a chain reaction of issues. First, the head is not able to be carried in a neutral position over the rest of the neck and spine. This causes abnormal, unequal muscle contractions in the neck as it compensates to bear the weight of the head and keep the eyes level. The shoulders and hips will also begin to compensate, which can lead to pain and discomfort in the mid- and low back. Abnormal atlas positioning can also begin to cause irritation to the central nervous system, leading to a lack of coordination of basic body functions like respiratory function, digestion, cardiovascular function, hormone balance, and more.
Experience the Customized Experience of Upper Cervical Care
When you visit Woolley Chiropractic Center, we take the time to get to know each of our patients and understand their health condition. An upper cervical chiropractic examination is comprehensive. Taking the necessary time to measure different factors and take precise x-rays lets us build the perfect correction for each patient. The advantages of an atlas adjustment that is tailored for you include:
- Precise adjustments do not require a lot of force. Atlas Orthogonal adjustments are specific and gentle, avoiding painful movements to an already stiff, locked-up neck.
- Since upper cervical specific adjustments are so precise, they tend to hold in place for longer periods of time. The length of time that your spine can remain in its normal alignment is what helps you to feel and function better – not the quantity of adjustments.
- Adjustments are given only when determined it is necessary. Our system of analysis lets us know when your atlas alignment is holding and when it isn’t, since one of the worst things we can do is disrupt your body’s natural healing process when things are well aligned.
Neck pain doesn’t have to be a part of your daily life. We help many neck pain sufferers find the root cause of their problem and gently correct it to get them back to living life on their own terms. To find out more about how we might be able to help you, give us a call to arrange a complimentary consultation.
To schedule a complimentary consultation call our Winona office at (507)452-4490.
if you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.