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Digital Neck

Text Neck

In these days where everyone has a phone that they spend countless hours on, we need to start being concerned about the reversal of the neck curve. I see text neck syndrome a lot and the numbers of people with neck pain are increasing.

Cause of Text Neck

So, countless hours on a phone or device. The problem is not the device, it’s how you hold it. If you’re going to be on your phone for a long period, get the phone up at eye level. By simply sitting at your desk or table and putting your elbows on the table, you bring the phone up. When working on a computer, use a stand and separate keyboard to get the screen up even with your eyes. If you wear bifocals like I do, you can have the screen down a little. Don’t ever prop a pillow up and lean your head back so your neck is at 90 degrees while on your phone. This is a sure way to reverse that curve.

Solutions

First, get adjusted. One other way to help yourself at home is to lay on the bed and hang your head over the edge. Let gravity do the work for you and just relax. Of course don’t do this if you have a heart condition or are susceptible to a stroke. The first time you do it, have someone who will check on you and help you if you can’t get up. Use common sense and know your health conditions before you try this. It can help to elongate the neck, stretch the muscles, open up the discs, and ease the tension on the joint capsules. It’s something I do when my neck starts to feel bound up.

Prop a neck roll behind your neck while laying down and bring the phone into your field of vision. There should be really good support for your neck and almost feel like you have it tipped backwards.

This problem will only get worse as the computer age advances. One thing I can see in the future is the heads up display (HUD) glasses there your screen is built right into the glasses. This might wreck your eyes, but your neck should be great. We’ll see what technology does for us in the future.

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Being Good Humans in this Life

Being Human

Being good humans takes a lot of work and practice. The concept is a play on the words human beings and the twist of that one in humans being.

In these days when the world has been wonky for so long, with the world wide pandemic, tribalism, white supremacy and hate speech all over social media, we need a little humans being good. Taking an active role as a mediator, a de-escalator of conflict or an arbitrator is all of our responsibility. We should strive for excellence in our relationships by caring for and honoring the people around us. Taking a little bit of time to understand and empathize with people with different backgrounds will go a long ways in healing the divide. If you’ve never been the victim of abuse or bullying, finding compassion for those who have been abused is outside of your experience. If you’ve ever encountered hard times in any form, your mind should be capable of walking in the shoes of another who is in the hard times.

Love one another. That’s the great commission. Respect the feelings of those around you. Soothe situations and don’t inflame the hatred. Compromise, now there’s a word we have lost touch with. It’s not a zero sum game, lift up other people and you will find yourself lifted up too. If it’s lonely at the top it’s because you stepped on other people getting there. A great climb requires teamwork and a willingness to share the load equally. Climb to the top, yes, but reach back and pull the rest up with you. Then give them a big hug and enjoy the view.

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Relief for sciatic nerve pain

Getting relief from Sciatic Nerve Pain becomes super important when you have this type of pain. The pain is generally one of the worst conditions of the lower back and the pain is very intense. The pain is described as a burning hot poker going down the back of the leg. I have seen the pain shoot a short distance into the upper thigh area or all the way to the foot. The sciatic nerve originates from the lumbar spine at levels L2 down to L5 and S1 or S2 segments. This nerve is about the size of your little finger, and carries impulses to the lower leg and foot. With sciatic pain, you can have numbness, weakness, or pain in the lower leg and foot. That pain could feel disconnected from the pain in the lower back.

In order to understand how to relieve sciatic pain, you need to know where the pain is actually coming from. There are several sources of impingement that can cause the sciatic type of pain. The first and most hazardous is a space occupying lesion in the low back.  A space occupying lesion in the lumbar neural canal can be a secondary cancerous tumor. Or it can be a disc bulge. Both of these possibilities need to be considered when dealing with sciatic pain. Another possibility is what has been called pseudo sciatica. This condition stems from the hip rotator muscle like the piriformis muscle. The sciatic nerve sometimes goes through the muscle belly of the piriformis can pinch the sciatic nerve. An easier condition to work with, but is no less painful for the patient.

Relieving Sciatica

Relieving the pain should begin with an examination by a physician trained in neuromuscular pain. A neurologist or orthopedist can easily order the tests (MRI) to diagnose the presence of a space occupying lesion (disc bulge or tumor). The chiropractic physician is also highly adept at identification of these types of lesions also. Chiropractors work with the spinal joints to relieve the pressure on a disc, or relieve the trigger points in the hip rotator muscles.

Your medical doctor will prescribe muscle relaxers and pain medications that can help reduce the spasm in the muscles. Then the body can heal the condition on its own. Home remedies include ice for inflammation, heat on the side of the pain to relieve muscle spasm, massage lower back or buttocks, or specific stretching exercises.

Sciatic Nerve pain can be extremely debilitating. If you are trying to relieve the pain with home remedies, try it but if they don’t give you results within a day, consult a physician to make sure it’s not a more serious problem. It has been said that this condition will resolve on its own in four to six weeks, but can you wait that long to get relief? Most chiropractors and orthopedic surgeons will look for the underlying source of the problem and not simply allow an adaptation of the body to bypass the damage that is done. Pain is present for a reason; please consult someone who can help you resolve the cause.

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Herniated or bulging discs

Defining Herniated or Bulging discs

A herniated disc and a bulging disc are the same on some levels and completely different on other levels.

A bulging disc is an inflamed disc and has a broader based outward expansion from its normal state. As the swollen fibers push outward, contact with nerves, the spinal cord, or bony structures occurs. As the inflammation spreads, the pain begins to encompass more tissues and nerves, transmitting more pain signals to the brain.

A herniation is more of a rupture that goes through the outer disc material and allows the nucleus of the disc to extrude outside of the disc margins. We see similarities between the two types of pain, though the compressed tissue makes a difference. The degree of inflammation plays a role in pain also. Herniation is a worse scenario to treat due to the openness of the disc nucleus to the outside. 35% of men and 45% of women having this pain at some point in their lifetime.

Causes of Herniation

These disc events happen most often with repetitive flexion stresses to the lower back or lower neck. One study (Adams & Hutton et al, Spine 1982) suggests that 28,000 repetitions of flexion are required to herniate a disc. If there is compression on the disc with flexion, fewer cycles are required to herniate a disc. Bending forward at the waist over a life time can cause this bulging or herniation. Most recently, we have been seeing an increasing problem with neck discs bulging due to working on screens for a long time.

Types

There are different types of herniations. The worst being the sequestered disc herniation. In this case the nucleus material pushes out, breaks away from the disc, and becomes a free floating mass. This mass is near the spinal canal and the only solution is surgical removal of the disc fragment.

The most frequent type of herniation has the nucleus material remaining attached to the disc. If we can take the pressure off the disc, the nucleus will draw back into its normal position. During this process we have to keep the inflammation down so healing can take place.

Main symptoms

Disc pain is characterized as a pain that radiates from the lower back into the leg. Disc pain from the neck radiates into the arm, or can go down the spine. A disc can be painful in and of itself. It will feel like a deep localized sharp pain which is more intense in flexion and relieved by extension.

This is a simplified look at disc herniation. The only true way to determine disc herniation is via advanced imaging techniques like MRI. Your chiropractic doctor works with these conditions and will be able to help you determine the next course of action.

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Neck Conditions for Seniors

The main neck conditions that I see for older folks relate to arthritis and loss of range of motion. The most common sign is the inability to turn the neck far enough to back the car out of parking places. This becomes dangerous and problematic when in a highly traveled area like a grocery store parking lot. If you are noticing that it is harder to get backed out and is difficult to see because you can’t turn your neck, it’s time for an assessment.

Arthritis Causes

When looking at the cause of the arthritic neck, we look at past history. Some people spent their youth “cracking” their necks and now, the scar tissue has caught up with them. Other causes include past trauma, which can be from car accidents, sports injuries, or work related overuse injuries. Previous history of surgical intervention in the neck can cause additional scar tissue. If you have had a previous surgery involving a fusion, often times this will preclude you from getting a neck adjustment at all. When you come in, if you have had a fusion, please bring x-rays of the post surgery neck so I can see what I’m dealing with. With some fusion cases, it is possible to adjust with the light force instrument adjusting technique and get some relief.

Neck Adjusting

Often times the arthritic neck conditions can be adjusted in the same way as the non-degenerated neck. The forces necessary are very different in these circumstances. I have found, especially with arthritis, it is better to use less force and better technique. There is also potential for using lower force instrument adjusting to relieve the fixations and restore the motion desired. Most often, I combine very specific adjusting by hand with instrument adjusting to get a maximal outcome with each visit. Additionally, I usually will suggest a stretching regime to decrease the fascial restrictions between muscles, increase pliability of scar tissue, and increase muscle length.

Many arthritis types can be dealt with and respond nicely to chiropractic care.

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Childhood Neck Conditions

I see a variety of childhood neck conditions and some of the main ones include torticollis, sports injuries, and ear aches. Kids are rough and tumble so there are lots of chances for minor injuries. Most childhood spinal injuries go undetected until later in life.

Kids Spines

Let’s talk about kid’s that are older than 2 years and younger than 12 years of age. During these years the bones of the spines experience rapid growth and the ossification centers begin to deposit more calcium. The necks of children in this age group are more pliable than their teen counterparts but more stable than in infancy. I am aware of some of the medical criticism of chiropractors for adjusting necks in childhood. In my experience, if the adjustment is done using lighter forces they are perfectly safe.

Talk to your children about the adjustment. Kids at this age are pretty scared of doctors and need some reassurance. Let them know that a chiropractor is a different kind of doctor. I try to explain what I will be doing, show them the tools, and be really honest about when it might hurt. If I can treat a relaxed child, the adjustment is that much less ouchy.

Conditions

Torticollis

Torticollis is a condition where the vertebra in the neck slip out of place, causing muscle spasm. The sternocleidomastoid muscle that runs from behind the ear to the collar bone and the sternum is the culprit in this case. Children with torticollis wake up in the morning in pain. They are unable to move their neck and will have their neck in a flexed and rotated position.

Ice is the first line of defense followed by an adjustment of the vertebrae when things relax a little. This adjustment is not very pleasant if done too early in the healing. With movement of the neck, the nerve is allowed to heal and the cycle is stopped. This is an acute condition that will get better with time, a bit of ice, and some age appropriate anti-inflammatories. Keep your child calm, limit activity and move the head around in the pain free ranges of motion. If we can get some movement going, the adjustment gets easier.

Ear Infections

Ear infections is another common condition that I treat in children. The eustachian tubes for younger kids are more parallel to the horizon and really don’t drain well. When the top bone of the spine (atlas) is rotated, this can put pressure on the upper neck and throat area, blocking the eustachian tubes. There is a buildup of fluid and bacterial infection behind the ear drum. With an adjustment of the atlas the pressure is relieved and the ears drain. The bacterial infection most often will clear up on its own and the ears should do better. Keep in mind that once a vertebra has gone out of place, it will go there again.

Sports Injuries

Sports Injuries are the last category I want to cover for this age group of children. Kids this age, are not known for generating great speeds or forces in their athletic activities, but accidents do happen. Falls from bikes, play structures, or swings have potential to cause significant injury. Kids at the upper ends of this age group are participating in organized sports that can have potential for injury. Obvious injuries like fractures and head traumas should be seen at urgent care. Later in the treatment process, it’s wise to have them checked for subluxation. This is the age group where some of these lifelong injuries happen that with a simple adjustment, we can restore them to full function without the long term effects.

Minor bumps and falls should also be checked by a chiropractor to restore any fixed vertebra that may go undetected. For optimal health, children should be checked once per month to once per quarter as a preventative to keep their spines in the best possible shape for growth and maturation.

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Painful baby necks illicit tears

Infants Necks

The birth process is pretty traumatic for baby necks. The first body part to present is the baby’s head. The doctor will use the head to start the rest of the body through the birth canal. We see infants that cry unceasingly, have colic, and will only turn their head in one direction. These symptoms suggest neck trauma that should be checked out by a qualified chiropractor. Nothing against Obstetricians, they are doing what they need to do. There are follow-ups that need to be done by a chiropractor and most people don’t consider that.

Adjusting

Adjusting baby necks is one of the least invasive procedures that I do. The forces needed to make a change in the spine of an infant are extremely small. Parents are usually unaware of then the adjustment actually happened. The change for the baby can be night and day.

I had one patient that brought her infant son in to me because she was at her wits end. She told me, “fix this,” as she handed me her baby. I adjusted him with a very light force neck adjustment and sent them home. She told me three days later it was like having a new baby. Her baby slept through the night, was happy, and seldom cried.

It’s not always that profound of a difference. Most of the time, a neck trauma like this takes more than one adjustment. Over the course of a few weeks, the infant can have a life changing experience with chiropractic adjustments. Parents can also have a life changing experience in how they relate to their baby.

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