Feeling that nagging neck pain or discomfort? Has it become a total pain in the neck? Gone are the days you could sleep it off, now it seems to be the never-ending story, some days are better than others. Have you noticed headaches are now accompanying your neck pain? or perhaps arm pain or numbness has started to develop most noticeable in the early hours of the morning?
Have you connected the link between these symptoms or are you thinking they are independent of each other? This is no coincidence, as often neck tension is the primary source of tension headaches…. Medically referred to as “cervicogenic headaches”, a fancy term that simply means headaches born of the neck. Arm numbness or pain is often the result of pinched nerves in the neck.
Are you starting to secretly fret there might be something more sinister at play, too scared to find out? Don’t worry you are not alone with these apprehensions and you will be relieved know it’s not as bad as you think!
Most people who have suffered from chronic neck problems eventually roll into the next phase where it is accompanied by headaches or/and arm symptoms, usually worse in the mornings. The good news is, it’s one of the simplest things to treat with great success providing you are diagnosed correctly and the appropriate treatment plan is formulated.
Most people cannot explain how they acquired their neck pain other than those who have been involved in a traumatic incident such as motor vehicle accident (whiplash) or a sporting incident. In truth, the majority of cases just start small and over time the frequency and intensity just gets progressively worse until it compels people to do something about it.
It may surprise you to know the unsuspecting culprit responsible for this chronic neck misery is poor posture…. am I hearing a stifled yawn because you’ve heard this before? Let me explain in such a way, it will have greater meaning to you. In the age of “iPhone neck”, “PSP gaming neck”, or prolonged desk sitting and TV addiction, our necks simply don’t get the chance to rest and recover especially when compounded with poorly fitted pillows and little to no regular exercise.
Studies by Kapandji have shown that for every 2-3 cm our necks moves forward, the load of the head on the neck and shoulders doubles, increasing by 100%. The average head weighs 5 kg so should it move forward by 2 cm it would increase the load to 10 kg and 4cm to 20kg. So understanding these figures, it’s really no surprise the effects of FHP (Forward Head Position) leads to long-term muscle strains and possibly pinched nerves. If you’re feeling pain or numbness in your arm, you could be suffering from pinched nerves originating from your neck. The rule of thumb is, the further the symptoms travel down the arm, the greater the nerve compression.
So where does your head sit in relation to the rest of your body? How does your posture stack up?
Here’s a simple challenge… ask a friend to take a photo of you using your phone standing side on looking straight ahead (not at your feet or at your friend) with both hands by your side in a relaxed, natural position. If you have long hair that covers your ears, tie it back. Next email the photo to yourself then print it (or print directly from your phone if you’re tech-savvy). On the print out place a dot in the middle of your shoulder and a dot in the centre of your ear canal and draw a line connecting the 2 dots. A straight verticle line is a perfect score….. so how do you measure up? How did your loved one or kids score?
Don’t be surprised if you or your family members score less than perfect. Living in tech-addicted times has created an epidemic of FHP.
So if you are relating strongly to what I am saying, what is the solution to banishing neck pain? The obvious answer for long-term sustainable results is to correct the alignment of your spine and the health professions that excel in this department are Chiropractors & Osteopaths using SMT (Spinal Manipulative Therapy).
At our clinic, our Chiropractors & Osteopath use a computer program that takes photos and performs a full postural analysis as poor posture starts from the ground up. Often our patients are surprised to see how poorly aligned they are and how the world really sees them. Let’s face it, nobody finds a hunched back flattering, right?
It’s not uncommon for us to see patients with heads jutting 5 to 8 cm forward of the true center of gravity adding a tremendous load to their neck and shoulders and consequently to their low back. Using SMT combined with rehabilitation exercises can help restore normal spinal alignment, reduce the load and stress to muscles and joints, reduce pain while also increasing the range of motion of the neck and back.
It’s not unusual to find the entire spine misaligned globally due to poor posture.
One of our most favourite appointments at our clinic is our “progress report” appointment. This is when we re-examine posture after a course of treatment over a period of a few weeks. It’s a really exciting time because both Chiro and patient get to see the fruition of their work. The “before” & “after” postural photo shoot so to speak.
There is nothing more rewarding than to see our patients in perfect alignment, pain-free and full of vitality banishing chronic headaches or arm numbness or pain. An added bonus of perfect posture is experiencing improved energy levels because standing poorly costs not only in pain and appearance but also in energy. Loading an extra 20 kg requires more physical effort than 5 kg, right? Try holding a 5kg weight in your hand, now stretch out your hand away from your body as far as possible, notice the difference in the level of exertion? I bet this 5kg now feels like 20kg! Now you can start to appreciate what our poor necks have been tolerating with FHP.
So what are you waiting for? Need more convincing? Call us and ask to chat with one of our Chiropractors or Osteopath to see if they can help.
RED FLAG: Please note, in the rare circumstances where you are experiencing a combination of 2 or more symptoms that consist of high fever, headaches, dislike of bright lights, neck stiffness, confusion, nausea, vomiting (especially projectile vomiting), loss of appetite, spots or rashes, drowsiness, or night pain contact your GP or Hospital emergency department immediately to rule out infections such as meningitis and other more serious conditions.
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