3 Desk Exercises To Help Prevent Neck Pain

Can you believe we’re almost to the end of August and September is less than 2 weeks away? Time really is flying by this year. We’re almost ready to enter the busiest time of the year. With the way this year is going, it will be 2018 before you know it.

Positive habits and healthy practices are common come January. Did you make any healthy resolutions at the start of 2017? Are you sticking with them? If so great, if not, remember it’s never too late to start a new habit or add new practices to support existing self-care rituals to your current routine. It’s important to consciously create positive habits so you live your life to the fullest and stay healthy and pain-free.

Life gets hectic. We get distracted. Sometimes we have difficulty carving out time for our own personal well-being. Here are 3 exercises you can do easily and quickly at your desk to prevent neck pain and stay in alignment longer in between visits:

 

IMG_6197Neck Rotations
Keeping your eyes parallel with the horizon, rotate your head to the right and hold. Take a deep breath.
Keep your shoulders back and down in a relaxed fashion. As you rotate to the right you will be looking over your right shoulder.
Hold that position for 20 seconds then return back to center.
Rotate to the left and hold the position for 20 seconds.

 

IMG_6177Cervical Lateral Bend
Sit up straight and flex your neck to one side so that your ear approximates towards your shoulder.
Make sure your shoulders are pulled back and your ear is in alignment over your shoulder.
Hold the stretch for 20 seconds then repeat on the other side.
Resist the urge to ‘pop’ your neck in any direction.

 

IMG_6171Neck Retractions 
Sit tall in the chair with a backrest. Keep looking forward while bringing your head backward, making sure not to tilt your head down (it may help to put a finger on your chin to guide your head back).Tuck your chin as if you were making a double chin while maintaining a forward gaze. A great way to visualize this exercise is thinking about giving yourself an extra chin, as it has this effect when performed.
Retract the neck back and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 5 times. You should feel the muscles in the front of your neck engage.

Disclaimer: These exercises are suitable for most people. However, if you have recently sustained an injury or if you have a neck condition, or pain or other symptoms going down your arm, or you’re just unsure of what you should do – or how you should do it – please ask us. 

Neck pain relief do’s and don’ts

Some causes of neck pain are beyond our control, such as injuries suffered in car accidents or while playing sports. But most neck pain comes from preventable causes such as poor posture, stress and anxiety, and sitting in prolonged positions with the neck bent forwards for too long. As a result, many people tend to have imbalances in their neck muscles, and that causes the deeper muscles that attach one vertebra to another to become weak and overstretched, which over time negatively affects spinal alignment.

The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to help prevent chronic neck pain. Here are some dos and don’ts:

  • DO maintain good posture. Keep your neck in a neutral position, which means your head balances directly over your spine and is not leaning forward to one side.
  • DO Perform regular strengthening and stretching neck exercises daily. We would be happy to provide you with some beneficial ones.
  • DO Keep your shoulders down and back in a relaxed position and make sure to frequently check in with yourself. Some people find it helpful to set an alarm every 45 minutes to “fix your posture.” This works well if you have a desk or sedentary job.
  • DO set up your workstation so your computer screen is at eye level and your feet are supported on the floor.
  • DO keep stress levels low. Stress can increase the perception of pain, and it tends to promote poor positioning and tension in muscles such as the upper trapezius muscles, which attach to the base of the head and the shoulders. When these are tight they pull the head forward. Consider deep breathing or progressive relaxation exercises.
  • DO Choose a pillow that supports and maintains your neck’s natural curve. A pillow that is too soft doesn’t give your neck the support it needs, while a pillow that’s too hard can elevate your neck too much. Either can result in pain upon waking up in the morning. We would be happy to talk to you about your sleeping position.
  • DON’T “crack” your neck in an attempt to get relief. Instead, gently stretch your neck from side to side (slowly look left and hold for 10 seconds, then slowly look right and hold for 10 seconds) or up and down (slowly bend neck back and hold for 10 seconds, then slowly put your chin close to your chest and hold for 10 seconds).
  • DON’T hold your head in a bent position for more than 10 minutes, whether you’re reading, watching TV, or looking at a smartphone or computer. Change your position to keep your eyes looking straight ahead. Prop your arms up on pillows or the arms of the chair if you are reading.
  • DON’T talk on the phone while leaning your head to one side or the other. This puts an unnecessary strain on your neck muscles.
  • DON’T Burden your back and neck with a backpack, bag or briefcase that is too heavy. Lighten your load.

Remember, for every 10 degrees forward the head is from a neutral position, the weight of the head on the neck increases about 10 pounds. This can place a great deal of strain on the muscles, ligaments, joints, and intervertebral discs in the neck. Getting your spine checked and adjusted as needed is an effective way of improving function and eliminating neck pain.

 

Can Chiropractic Help My TMJ Pain?

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a common condition that affects the jaw. It can be extremely painful and many people are turning to methods other than medication or surgery to relieve that pain. While lifestyle changes such as diet may help, chiropractic care has been cited as a viable treatment for TMJ pain.

At first, this may seem counter-intuitive simply because it is widely believed that chiropractors only treat the spine and neck. This commonly held belief is not entirely accurate. Chiropractors treat all joints, including the spine and neck. A chiropractor may treat ankles, wrists, knees, and, yes, even the jaw. Sometimes the neck and spine can be contributing factors and they can be treated with chiropractic care as well.

What is TMJ?
The joint that connects your jaw to your skull and allows you to open and close your mouth is the temporomandibular joint. When you have problems with the muscles or joint in that area it is called TMJ, or more accurately temporomandibular disorders, or TMD.

This disorder is characterized by pain and stiffness on one or both sides of the jaw. The jaw may also lock or get stuck in either a closed or open position. Patients may also notice a popping, clicking, or grating sound in the jaw when chewing, yawning, or when closing or opening their mouth. They may also have trouble chewing and even experience swelling.

Doctors don’t know what causes TMJ. It seems to be linked to trauma to the neck, such as with whiplash, but it also can be caused by:

Arthritis in the jaw
Grinding the teeth
Stress that causes clenching of the jaw
Movement of the disc, or soft cushion, that lies between the socket and ball of the jaw

Diagnosis and Treatment for TMJ
Many conditions can mimic the symptoms of TMD. After taking a medical history, we will check the joints in the jaw for popping, clicking, or grating sounds. We will also assess your pain or tenderness level and check for any stiffness. During the exam, we will assess the job and its ability to function properly. X-rays may also be a part of the examination.

If we can pinpoint the probable cause of the TMJ, we may prescribe certain treatments or make recommendations that will help. Medication is one option, mainly stress or anti-anxiety medication to help the patient relax. A night guard or splint is another option since it helps to put the teeth in the correct position. A splint is worn all the time and a night guard is worn only at night. Dental work is another option and in some more serious cases, surgery.

Chiropractic Care for TMJ
Chiropractic for TMJ is not only common, but very effective. When treating TMD, we will often perform computerized neck and/or spine adjustment as well as adjustments to the jaw. This means that the patient may experience pressure on their skull, jaw, upper spine, or neck as the we treat the condition. There are also soft tissue treatments that we may perform during the course of the treatment.
Bottom line, computerized chiropractic care is a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment for TMJ.

So if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with TMD and/or are experiencing TMJ pain, give us a call. We are here to help!

 

How Mobile Devices are Wrecking Our Spines

Nearly everyone has a smartphone or mobile device these days, and while there is some merit to this technology by keeping us more connected – at least virtually – it is wreaking havoc on our bodies. When you look at the posture that people assume when texting, reading email, or browsing social media while on their mobile device or smartphone, you will see their head bent forward and rounded shoulders. They typically hold the device either at chest level or waist level meaning that their hands are together, forming an almost crouch position.

This is very bad for the spine but it creates problems for other parts of the body even beyond the spine. Let’s take a look at some of the common issues that come with bad smartphone posture.

Text Neck

The more you tilt your head downward (just as you do when looking at a smartphone), the more pounds of pressure you put on your neck and back. Your spine supports the weight of your head. The more it is thrust forward, looking down, the heavier your head gets. Consequently, text neck can result in pain in the neck and upper shoulders, headaches, and a change in the curve of the neck. Like other overuse issues, such as tennis elbow or runner’s knee, it can also lead to problems that can get worse over time, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Herniated and bulging discs
  • Muscle strain
  • Pinched nerves
These problems are starting to show up more in younger and younger patients. and many Doctors are seeing many young people with this problem, some even as young as 8 years old.

Some patients report pain while others feel pressure, and others feel tightness. Sometimes the pain will spread throughout the body or from the neck to the arms and hands.

Forearm and Wrist Pain

Even the way you hold your phone in your hands can cause problems. Since you keep your hand in one position for long periods of time your muscles never have a chance to relax. You have several muscles engaged to do this: the forearms, the wrist, and the neck.

If you are experiencing pain, sometimes shooting, in your elbow or wrist your smartphone use may be the culprit. So put the phones away or leave them at home.

Sore Upper and Lower Back

As your neck struggles to support your head which is rolled forward, it stands to reason that you will experience back pain. In fact, both upper and lower back pain have been attributed to smartphone use.

Think about the muscles that run along your spine. They help stabilize it and help control and support your head. When you hunch over you strain those muscles in your upper back. What you may not realize is that similar strain is being put on the muscles in your lower back as well.

SMARTPHONE Thumb

The muscles in your hand are very small but they can cause you a great deal of pain if you frequently use a mobile device. As you type on the keyboard of your smart phone, it can cause problems with tendons and ligament as well as the muscles.

This repetitive stress of the body is caused daily by people who stay hunched over their small phone screen. The repetitive movement of your thumb as it manipulates the device can cause inflammation in the thumb and hand.

Headaches from Tension in Neck and Back

One of the most common ailments associated with mobile device usage is headaches. These headaches can come from tension in the neck, strained muscled in the back, or overworked muscles through the hand and arm into the shoulder. It can also come from eyestrain caused by staring at the screen for extended amounts of time, looking at tiny text.

There is no doubt that mobile device usage is becoming a serious problem in our society today. While there are the people who text while driving or while walking, posing a significant threat to their own and others’ safety, what they are doing to their own bodies is enough to cause alarm.

Chiropractic care can ease the pain and reverse a good portion of the damage that has been done, but if when people continue with the same bad habits the treatment is only temporary. There needs to be a focused effort made to pull people out of their mobile devices, at least a portion of the time, to minimize the structural spinal damage they are doing to themselves.

PAY ATTENTION FOR PREVENTION
The best way to prevent text neck and related problems is to limit the use of your phone. If you do check your device frequently, use your arms to hold your phone directly in front of your face rather than angling your neck to look at the screen.
You can also perform these exercises to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders:
  • Roll your head gently from side to side.
  • Press your head against your hands, first pressing forward, then pushing your hands to the back to press backwards.
  • Stand about 2 feet back from a corner. Place your left arm on the left-side wall and your right arm on the right-side wall, then lean in as far as possible without any pain. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to work your shoulder muscles.
If you have neck, shoulder or back pain that’s causing problems, the caring spine healthcare providers at Woolston Wellness Center can help. To learn more call 480-556-6797.

6 Tips To Observe If You Are A Victim Of A Car Crash

Few instances shatter our normal world into pieces more quickly than an automobile accident. Never expected, a wreck causes bodily injury, stress, and, in some cases, ongoing financial litigation issues.

Unfortunately, the vast number of vehicles on the road today, as well as drivers’ penchant for distracted driving, dramatically increases an individual’s chances of being involved in a crash. If you already suffer from an injury or medical condition, you must do your part to ensure it is not aggravated or exacerbated.

If a car crash happens to you, it’s essential to recognize and follow these six tips to keep you safe and your injuries to a minimum.

Immediately take stock of the situation

The way you react seconds after a crash impacts the situation tremendously. Determine what area you are injured, and if you are in imminent danger in the vehicle.

For example, if the automobile is on fire, or you are sinking into a lake, rescue yourself as quickly as possible. Otherwise, stay inside your vehicle.

Analyze your injured areas

How injured do you appear to be? Keep in mind you are not a doctor. So, even if you feel fine, your neck or back could still have been impacted. Identify which areas of your body hurts, and the intensity of the pain.

Wait for the authorities

Stay calm inside your vehicle and wait for the police and ambulance to arrive. This is imperative if your vehicle has flipped and you are hanging from your seatbelt.

Many head and neck injuries result from automobile occupants releasing their seat belts after a crash that has left them upside down.

Inform the emergency technicians

Once help arrives, it’s vital to explain to them, if you can, the areas of injury. If you have previously suffered from injury or medical condition to your neck, back, or spine, let them know that, too.

This information helps them formulate the form of extraction and emergency treatment that minimizes the chance of creating further harm. Be calm and specific when you relay the information, using simple language and the 1-10 pain scale to describe your level of discomfort.

Visit your chiropractor

If your injuries are deemed minimal and you are released, be happy and grateful that you were not hurt worse! Then, make an appointment so we can asses the extent of any damage after listening to the nature of your wreck and performing a comprehensive examination.

Certain injuries take a few days to show up, and the crash could have impacted bones, joints, and ligaments that went undiscovered during the initial after-crash exam. Whiplash injuries not only increase the incidence of chronic neck and shoulder pain, they also significantly increase the incidence of other systemic ill health effects and chronic problems down the road if left untreated.

Minimize the chances of another automobile accident

While you cannot control being in a wreck, you can take measures to guard against the occurrence, and give yourself a greater chance to avoid injury. Always wear your seatbelt, avoid distracted driving (this means your cell phone), maintain your vehicle’s brakes and tires, and understand the current traffic laws. Commit to driving at a safe speed depending on the weather conditions, and never, ever drive after imbibing alcohol.

Being in an automobile accident is scary business, and we hope it never happens to you. There is increased risk to individuals who already deal with medical conditions or bodily injuries from sports, work, or falls.

However, by maintaining a clear head and following these six tips, you can minimize the chance of being seriously injured in many car wreck situations and return to your normal life quickly, putting this awful incident behind you.

Do You Know How Chiropractic Helps Relieve Sacroiliac Joint Pain?

How can a body part you have probably never heard of hurt so bad? This is a common question we hear from individuals suffering from sacroiliac joint pain.

The joint is formed by the sacrum and the ilium where they meet on either side of the lower back, with the purpose of connecting the spine to the pelvis. This small joint is one of the most durable parts of the human body, and it is responsible for a big job.

The unassuming little sacroiliac joint withstands the pressure of the upper body’s weight pushing down on it, as well as pressure from the pelvis. It’s basically the cushion between the torso and the legs. As such, it handles force from pretty much every angle.

While immensely strong and durable, this joint is not indestructible. Sacroiliac joint pain usually crops up as lower back pain, or pain in the legs or buttocks.

Weakness in these areas may also be present. The typical culprits in causing the sacroiliac joint to exhibit pain are traumatic injuries to the lower back, but more frequently develops over a longer period of time.

Sacroiliac joint pain is often misdiagnosed as soft tissue issues instead of the joint itself. Doctors may rule out other medical conditions before settling on a diagnosis that includes a sacroiliac joint problem.

If you have suffered an injury, a degenerative disease, or otherwise damaged the sacroiliac joint, there are treatments available to help manage pain, promote healing, and lessen the chances of recurrence. Here are a four helpful guidelines to assist in effectively handling sacroiliac joint pain.

First, rest and ice the area. Avoid exaggerated movements of your lower back in order to relieve some of the body’s pressure on the sacroiliac joint. Also apply ice wrapped in a towel periodically to soothe the area and minimize the pain.

A second way to handle sacroiliac pain is with therapeutic massage. Tightness around the joint is a common cause of discomfort and pain. Professional massage serves to loosen and relax the lower back, buttocks, and leg areas, offering relief from pain.

Third, consider chiropractic and seeing a chiropractor. Chiropractic treatment, known as adjustments, not only provides great options for pain relief but also helps promote the healing process of this joint.

A chiropractor is specifically trained to guide you through several phases of care. Although pain relief is the goal, we don’t focus just on pain relief but are primarily interested in helping you fix the problem.

We are also well trained in rehabilitation of the spine. This approach will help loosen the muscles surrounding the joint as well as strengthen them. This will decrease the risk of pain returning down the road.

Finally, in very rare cases, doctors will choose to apply an injection to the area to alleviate pain and inflamed tissue. Obviously, the injection won’t fix the problem but may give the patient relief temporarily. Surgery is rarely a viable option, and should be considered only after all else has failed.

If you show symptoms of sacroiliac pain, it’s important to see a Doctor of Chiropractic so he or she can perform tests to correctly diagnose your condition. It could very well be another type of lower back problem. So quit suffering and give us a call!

Yours in good health,
Drs. Jeff and Larissa Woolston

Sciatica Sufferers Listen Up: Chiropractic Care Reduces Pain, Promotes Healing

Are you experiencing pain along one side of your body from your lower back down through your hip and the back of your leg? If so, you could be suffering from a condition called sciatica.

According to the Mayo Clinic, sciatica can best be described as “most commonly occurring when a herniated disk or a bone spur on the spine compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.”