Neck pain is a very common reason for people to come in to see us. It is also the very thing that, when given the right support, can be prevented. But how does one know what the "right support" is when there can be a multitude of reasons for the pain to begin with?
Here are some not so common causes that could explain that stiff or achy neck.
1. ALLERGIES – It sounds weird but the root of allergies that affect the neck have to do with inflammation in the body which causes swelling. It’s not necessarily something we connect to neck pain, but the toxins that build up (and can't get out) begin to wreak havoc in the tissues, muscles, ligaments, nerves, bones, soft tissue, joints and organs around your neck area. The result? Pain, tenderness, and even stiffening and locking of your neck.
2. SLEEPING POSITIONS – Believe it or not there is a proper way to sleep so that your physical body can maximize healing during your sleep hours. Bad sleeping positions can:
- Cause degeneration of your spine;
- Cut off oxygen to your brain and vital organs;
- Create a distortion to your rib cage which then puts stress on your heart and lungs;
- Cause muscle shrinkage or atrophy.
3. CHEWING – Eating is an everyday event, but when do we ever see chewing as an everyday exercise? Many times patients with dental problems experience stress on the cervical spine caused by:
- Chewing only on one side;
- Chewing predominantly on one side;
- Asymmetrical chewing as a result of missing teeth or bite problems;
- Habit-chewing. (Chewing on straws, fingernails, or other objects)
4. LACK OF APPROPRIATE MOVEMENT OF THE HEAD AND NECK – Most people go to work, stare at a screen all day, then go home, and stare at another screen for a better part of the evening before going to bed. No one really thinks about exercising or stretching their head and neck with purpose!
5. MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL STRESS – One of the leading causes of any dis-ease in your body is mental and/or emotional stress. Think about the times when you are stressed out about something. Does your body tighten up? Do you clench your teeth? Does your breathing stop or go shallow? Do your shoulders curl up towards your ears? Does your body slouch more? You may not notice, but all the tightness is usually around the upper part of your body and especially around your jaw, neck, shoulders, upper back, and around your eyes and face. This can cause blurry vision, headaches, fatigue, and even go so far as to slow your reactions, cause brain fog, and compromise your decision making,
HOW REGULAR CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS CAN HELP:
NO INTERFERENCE - The whole point of a chiropractic adjustment is to align the spine so that the nervous system can operate properly with no interference. It sounds simplistic but the nervous system is one of the most complex systems in your body and without its proper function, well, it’s kind of like your computer’s hard drive crashing. Yikes.
YOUR BRAIN AND BODY WANT TO TALK – Interference comes when the nerves running through your spine get pinched, blocked, or impinged when your vertebrae get hurt or twisted and can’t get straight again. Think of this like a water hose. If you bend it, the water will not flow through. If that hose was carrying an important message from your body to your brain or vice versa, the message would get stuck, distorted, or never reach its destination. A chiropractor is trained to pinpoint the exact area of blockages in your nervous system and corrects it so the flow can get back to normal and the messages can get through again.
SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE – Once the human body can sit up on its own and hold its head up on its own, this is when the lumbar spine and cervical spine could use your help. In addition to regular chiropractic adjustments throughout ones life, it is important to alternate sleeping on each side and to use a good pillow to support your neck. Consulting your chiropractor about the many factors that contribute to a good night's rest is vital to your health.
CHEW YOUR FOOD (PROPERLY) – The realignment of your jaw through a chiropractic adjustment can help you to chew your food easier and more properly. It is also a good idea to be mindful of how you are chewing and to make sure you alternate evenly. Dental health and hygiene are also important so remember to brush and floss those pearly whites!
SIT UP STRAIGHT – Sitting and standing properly enables your muscles to get activated more naturally. When you sit and stand, think of moving from your hips and legs rather than from your back. Proper alignment will give all of the postural muscles throughout your body the right amounts of electrical charges so that it can keep up its tone, strength, and flexibility.
BODY ALIGNED = HAPPY MIND – When things are in alignment, you and your body are able to process information easier and quicker because your brain is getting the messages needed to function. It is also vital to the intricate internal system that we often take for granted. We don't ever have to get up in the morning and ask our heart to beat for us or remind our eyes to see. Our bodies just does what it was designed to do and we benefit from it all day long. Taking care of the miracle that is your body is simple, and at the same time, it requires a mindful commitment. (That's the hard part!) This is where your chiropractor can help! Remember that health questions are always welcome so please don't hesitate to ask Dr. Michael at your next appointment!
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael Pim, DC