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. 

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!

 

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

How Chiropractic Care Eases the Three Most Common Types of Back Pain

Do you suffer with back pain? Well, you’re not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work, and the second most common reason for visiting a doctor (only behind upper respiratory infections).

Why is back pain so common? There is more than one answer to that question. A large number of back pain patients suffer because of the following three reasons:

They have suffered a back injury

Individuals can hurt their backs by lifting heavy objects, overexerting themselves, or moving the wrong way. The muscles and ligaments in the back can be twisted and damaged.

Back pain that is the result of a recent injury is called acute pain, meaning it comes on suddenly. Acute pain is usually temporary, so when the injury heals, the pain lessens or disappears completely. Over the counter medications such as analgesics, topical creams, and anti-inflammatory drugs help manage back pain caused from an injury but don’t necessary fix the problem.

Chiropractic care is another way to lessen acute pain and feel more comfortable. By adjusting the spine, chiropractors can relax the muscles, and relieve acute pain faster than simply “suffering through” the injury.

They battle a medical condition or illness

Unfortunately, there are several illnesses that can cause back pain. Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, inflammatory diseases of the joints, and scoliosis are some of the common conditions that cause back pain. Because the conditions create pain that lasts longer periods of time, this type of pain is considered to be chronic pain.

Chronic pain is an entirely different animal than acute pain, and patients who suffer with it often look for options outside of traditional medication. Chiropractic care is an excellent choice in dealing with chronic back pain.

Adjustments to the spine can promote healing in all areas of a person’s body, as well as provide relief from the pain. Chiropractic care for medical conditions sometimes takes a bit longer to show results, so the patient must be committed to the treatment plan the chiropractor suggests in order to enjoy the maximum benefits of chiropractic.

They have made poor lifestyle choices

Decisions we make can affect our health, either negatively or positively. Being overweight, avoiding an exercise routine, and smoking can result in health issues that cause back pain.

  • Additional weight puts extra stress on an individual’s back that can eventually cause pain.
  • Smoking is a habit that has many negative consequences, including increasing the chances for back pain. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), smoking can cause a lack of nutrients which affects the back’s discs. In addition, people who smoke tend to heal slower, so smoking can actually increase the length of time a person must endure back pain.
  • Exercise increases a person’s strength in muscles and tendons, and a sedentary lifestyle weakens a person’s body, often bringing on back pain, as well as other health issues.

Chiropractic care can assist in lessening a patients back pain, which then hopefully leads to better lifestyle choices.

Feeling better often prompts patients to embark on a fitness routine, eat healthier, and quit smoking. Exercise regimens that include strength training can positively impact a person’s health in a number of ways, including back pain reduction.

Millions of people struggle with back pain on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to treat both the symptoms and the underlying causes. Chiropractic care either by itself or in a combination with other treatments is one of the best choices available today.

Ouch! What is Facet Syndrome?

Facet joint syndrome is the most common of all the recurrent, low back and neck problems, which can cause serious and disabling pain for many people. At the most basic level, facet joint syndrome is a pain in the joint between two vertebra, and it can occur anywhere in the spine.

The spinal facet joints are in constant motion; providing the spine with stability and flexibility needed for walking, running, bending, sitting, and twisting. When a facet joint is damaged, from deterioration, injury or repetitive trauma, it can become swollen, painful, and stiff.

What are the symptoms of facet syndrome?

Lower back pain, numbness in the legs and arms, headaches, migraines, neck pain, pain that fluctuates with the weather, tenderness in the spine and pain when twisting or bending the spine. When the acute lumbar or cervical facet joint inflammation is at its peak, the symptoms may closely imitate those of a herniated disc, a deep infection, a fracture, or a torn muscle of the spine.  Facet joint problem symptoms typically include unpredictable pain throughout the month/year and more discomfort while leaning backward then while leaning forward. Low back pain from the facet joints often radiates into the buttocks and down the back of the upper leg. The pain is rarely present in the front of the leg, and rarely radiates below the knee or into the foot, as pain from a disc herniation often does; similarly, cervical facet joint problems may radiate pain locally or into the shoulders or upper back, and rarely radiate in the front or down an arm or into the fingers as a herniated disc might. Lastly, most people will have tenderness over the inflamed facet joints along with some degree of loss in the spinal muscle flexibility (referred to as guarding).

Risk factors for facet syndrome include:

  • 50+ years of age
  • Excessive weight
  • Overuse due to sports or heavy labor
  • Whiplash injuries, or sleeping with a twisted neck
  • Loss of the normal spinal curve and abrupt jerk of the neck, twisting while lifting overhead, or trauma to the spine
  • Presence of disease such as gout, other types of arthritis or infections.
  • Sitting for prolonged period of time without getting up and moving / stretching

How do we treat facet syndrome?

Good posture is the key component of relieving facet joint syndrome symptoms. We examine how you carry yourself so that we can determine how you can improve the way you sit, stand, and move about. We also look for compensation patterns in other parts of your body, and aim to relieve the pressure on both your back and the surrounding muscles that are strained from working overtime.

Chronic musculoskeletal pain often arises from functional pathology (such as facet joint disorder) which then leads to structural inflammation and disease. Chiropractic spinal manipulation has been shown to be one of the most effective ways in treating people with facet joint pain which causes lower back pain.

By: Dr. Larissa Woolston DC, MA

 

Posture and Pain

“Posture doesn’t just reflect our emotional states; it can also cause them,” says Amy Cuddy in a recent New York Times article about the effect that using mobile devices has on our posture.  Cuddy is a professor at Harvard Business School and presenter of the popular TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.”

Pain is a subjective and distressing feeling that people perceive when they encounter an uncomfortable experience. Pain can be both a psychological and/or a physiological experience. While psychogenic pain is typically experienced as a result of fear, nervousness, anxiety, doubt, grief or negativity, physiological pain is now days very frequently associated with repetitive motion injuries. A repetitive motion injury occurs when the body’s tissues are repeatedly exposed to loads beyond their functional capacity, which consequently causes many repetitive mini traumas to the tissues.

Considering that the body is a dynamic and adaptable organism, it is very well equipped to compensate for these micro injuries. The main reason that most people don’t view micro traumas as being a severely debilitating factor to their health is because we learn to work around the injury. That is both a blessing and a curse because when an injury occurs in one area, the body will stabilize that body part and will recruit surrounding tissues to perform the intended movement or action. However, repeated musculoskeletal compensation leads to postural distortions; and poor posture, over time, leads to chronic pain patterns.

When in pain, people tend to become more sedentary in an attempt to avoid activities that trigger pain and discomfort, and yet decreased level of physical activity leads to stiff joints and weak muscles which further exacerbates the problem. Chronic pain has become such an epidemic that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that “pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.”

So what can be done? The first thing needed to create lasting change and success is awareness.  Allow yourself the space to see things as they are, without forming judgments, excuses or rationalizations. Only by acknowledging what is, do you put yourself in a position to do something about it. So perhaps next time you are brushing your teeth at the bathroom sink, you take a look at your posture; or the next time you are sitting at your computer, you notice any tensions in your neck, hands, and low back.  Or maybe when you are standing in the checkout line at the grocery store you move side to side a few times and unattachedly notice if one side feels stronger than the other, and if your feet are nice and relaxed or tight and tense. Whether you are looking to get out of pain or are simply interested in ensuring that you are functioning at a healthy level, raising the level of awareness as to what your body is doing helps you to then take the next step in creating the needed change.  

A recent study published in Journal of Health Psychology concluded that sitting with an upright posture can function as a coping mechanism against stress. From a physiologic standpoint, properly aligned posture significantly decreases the stress on supportive ligaments, tendons and muscles.  And so although you may not be able to make something better immediately, you can take the first steps in honoring your body and wellbeing by acknowledging how well your body moves in space, and then simply noticing what areas need your further attention.   

 

By Dr. Larissa Woolston DC, MA