What Causes Neck Pain and How to Prevent It?

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Experiencing neck pain once in a while is common. In most cases, neck pain or stiff neck occurs due to poor posture, improper sleeping position, overuse, or normal wear and tear. Sometimes, it may also be due to injuries, accidents, and falls involving the neck.

Typically, neck pain is a minor condition which many people do not worry about as it can be treated with simple remedies and, before you know it, it has already disappeared. However, be careful, too, as some cases of neck pain indicate that there might be a more serious underlying condition. If this is the case, it is important to seek medical care and attention right away.

Common Causes of Neck Pain

There are three main causes of neck pain. Find out if any of the following is causing you pain in the neck.

One of the major reasons why an individual acquires neck pain is muscle tension and strain. This usually develops when you sit all day without changing positions such as at work, sleep with your neck in an uncomfortable position, twitch your neck during exercise, or have a poor posture. To avoid straining your muscles in the neck, make sure to change your daily routines such that your neck won’t be too stressed.

Another common cause of neck pain is experiencing injuries or accidents, such as falls, vehicular accidents, or sports-related injuries where the neck gets affected and the ligaments and muscles got dislocated from their normal positions. During more serious injuries when the neck gets fractured or dislocated, the spinal cord can be affected, too. Neck pain due to vehicular accidents is called whiplash. (Read: Everything You Need to Know about Whiplash)

There are health disorders and conditions that cause neck pain, including arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, meningitis, slipped disc, and even heart attack. Thus, if suddenly your neck feels some unexplainable pain, make sure to have your overall health checked up to identify what other disorder you may have.

Quick and Easy Neck Pain Relief Tips

If you are suffering from minor neck pain, you may want to try the following measures in order to reduce the ache.

  1. At the onset of the pain, apply ice on your neck. After a couple of days, apply heat on the neck using hot compress or heating pad, or simply take hot showers.
  1. Over-the-counter pain relief medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen should help get rid of the pain temporarily.
  1. While the pain is still present, avoid sports and other activities such as heavy lifting that may aggravate your condition. Resume normal routine once the neck pain has subsided.
  1. Regularly work out your neck by doing simple stretches and turns.
  1. Maintain a good posture.
  1. Move and change positions often. Avoid standing up or sitting down for long periods of time.
  1. Get a neck massage. The soothing pressure applied to your neck will minimize the pain and tension in the muscles.
  1. Get a chiropractic adjustment to restore strength and mobility of the affected muscles in the neck.

Any pain you feel in your body – no matter how minor – should not be neglected. Make sure that you take necessary measures to know what you are feeling how serious it is, and how to treat and prevent it recurrence.

Everything You Need to Know About Whiplash

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Whiplash refers to a neck injury often resulting from a motor or car accident. A rear impact in car accidents usually causes whiplash, where the passenger who gets hit from behind has the highest risk of suffering from injury.

How Does Whiplash Occur?

Accident causing whiplash injuries happen when one vehicle (car A) hits another vehicle (car B) from behind, applying an intense force that gets transmitted from car A to car B. Unfortunately, these forces get transmitted to the passengers of car B, making them susceptible to body injuries, including whiplash.

Such vehicular accident happens due to many reasons, including drunk driving, speeding, brake and engine damage, distracted driving (i.e., using mobile phones), reckless driving, beating the red light, tailgating, and weather condition, such as rain and snow. Minor vehicular accidents, however, may not cause severe injuries to the passengers, only damage to the car.

Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash

When you have just experienced a car accident, and you feel sore in many places of your body, how would you know if you are suffering from whiplash? Here are some signs and symptoms that will tell you that you are:

  • Noticeable pain and stiffness of the neck
  • When you try to move your neck, the pain increases
  • Loss of mobility and range of motion in the neck
  • Tender pain in the shoulders, arms, or upper back
  • Headaches that usually begin at the bottom of the skull

When you experience all or most of these symptoms, you should have your neck checked up right away to get cure and treatment for whiplash.

Treatment for Whiplash

In some cases, the pain from whiplash eventually disappears, especially when applied with some treatment. But, when the more severe cases get ignored, they may case complicated symptoms that may last for a longer period of time. If the whiplash pain or injury extends up to six months, it will be considered chronic whiplash which is a more severe condition.

Below is a list of effective cure, treatment, and prevention of whiplash.

  1. Keep your neck moving by doing a neck exercises and stretching that you can bear. Even if it’s painful, moving your neck from time to time will help in its recovery, while keeping it in still position may prolong symptoms.
  1. The use of pain killers, such as analgesic, and anti-inflammatory medicines may help relieve whiplash pain. Paracetamol, on the other hand, can cure mild neck pain. However, make sure to consume it regularly and not only when you feel the pain to guarantee its effectiveness. For more serious pain, seek advice from your doctor so he or she may prescribe a stronger pain relief medication.
  1. For whiplash injuries that last for weeks, you may want to undergo physiotherapy and/or chiropractic care. These treatments are hands-on approaches done by a therapist or chiropractor to restore mobility of the neck by applying force to the damaged nerves and muscles.
  1. Additionally, you may want to do self-care measures to gradually improve the condition of your neck. These include maintaining a good posture, sleeping in the right position, and engaging in regular exercise and stretching. However, make sure not do heavy physical activities yet and wait until you get better before you go back to your normal routine.

When you or a family member suffers from whiplash injury, it may seem too scary. But with proper care and treatment, you will realize that everything will get better and you or your loved one can go back to your normal lives again. Now, the next time you’re on the road, be very careful!

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

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Chiropractic is generally considered as alternative medicine or complementary medicine. It is an option of treatment and care that does not use drugs and surgery, which the conventional medicine rely almost completely upon. We know that in many cases, there are limits to what medications and surgery can do as treatment options.  Chiropractic, aside from offering an alternative to the treatment methods traditional medicine uses, is in alignment with the scientific principles that general medicine stands for. In some cases, chiropractic works in conjunction with the mainstream medicine practice in solving health disorders.

Chiropractic focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system. It holds the fundamental belief that a healthy nervous system is the key to general health and abnormality in the nerve functions results in disease and dysfunctions in the body. It emphasizes treatment that employs manipulative adjustments in the body structures, primarily on the spine.

Chiropractors: Principles and Goals

Chiropractors are professional practitioners who advocate health care through the application of the chiropractic principles. Their goal is to reduce the pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as promote health care through other related forms of therapies and care such as physical exercise, ergonomics and nutrition.

Chiropractors strongly adhere to the following principles and beliefs in their professional practice:

  • The nervous system is the communication center for all body functions.
  • There is an intimate relationship between the nervous system and the spine and physical abnormalities in the spine can negatively affect the nervous system.
  • Chiropractic treatment can improve the health of a person through the restoration and maintenance of the structural integrity of the spine.
  • Chiropractic treatment concept is aimed at re-establishing normal spinal mobility, alleviating irritation and pain to the spinal nerve, and correcting altered reflexes.

Conditions Chiropractors Treat

Chiropractors use different treatment techniques and methods without the use of drugs and surgery. Some of the most common conditions they treat are:

  • Spinal misalignment, slipped disk, and other disorders of the musculoskeletal system
  • Back pain and leg pain or sciatica
  • Neck pain
  • Other chronic muscle, joint and arthritic pains
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Injuries from motor vehicle accidents like whiplash
  • Sports injuries

Chiropractors can also treat a wide range of health disorders and symptoms associated with spinal nerve interference including conditions of the organs of the body such as the eyes, ears, skin, heart, liver, kidneys, respiratory and digestive organs.

Activities in Chiropractors’ Office

Typical activities inside the chiropractor’s office include the initial intake procedure, physical examination, treatment, and a follow-up plan.

In the intake procedure, the patient will be interviewed and asked questions regarding his or her condition, medical history and the specifics about the complaint.

A routine physical exam follows the initial intake. The chiropractor will most likely examine the patient’s spine. X-ray examination of the patient’s back is also likely done before the treatment. Depending on the complaint, other tests in the course of the physical exam are muscle strength comparison, range of motion test, palpation, reflex testing and neurological and orthopedic tests.

The chiropractor will prepare a treatment plan considering all the data gathered from the previous process and after getting an agreement with the patient on what the patient’s objective is in the chiropractic care.

Subsequent treatment visits may be necessary as required in the initial treatment plan.

For the millions of people who have received the benefits of chiropractic care, chiropractors who have given them relief from pain and discomfort and have restored their healthy and enjoyable lives have become their heroes.

Ergonomic Workstation to Prevent Back Pain

A person should work in harmony with the environment he works in to bring about his or her optimum productivity and promote his long-term well-being. This general principle is what drives ergonomics in advocating for a worker-friendly designed office or work environment. It is concerned with the fit or appropriateness between the user, equipment and their environments. User interaction with the equipment and workplace must be designed to fit the user.

 

Ergonomics prevents musculoskeletal injuries such as back pain through proper workstation setup that reduces physical and mental stress to the worker. Through optimizing the physical setup of your workstation and the equipment you use, you can reduce your chances of injuries or prevent them altogether.

 

How to Take Advantage of Ergonomics

 

An ergonomic workstation will help avoid many potentially harmful situations that lead to back injury. The following may be done towards this end:

 

  1. Arrange or lay your work out so you can sit or stand comfortably in a position that does not put stress on any specific area of your body like your back.
  2. Keep the workstation and the tools you use within your reach without having to frequently twist at the waist, bend, or lean.
  3. Choose workstation equipment or tools that fit your personal physical and comfort needs, such as:
    1. Desk:
      1. The top should be about elbow height. Too low desk surfaces can cause you to hunch your shoulder.
      2. Choose a desk with plenty of room for your legs and thighs to comfortably fit under the desk.
    2. Monitor:
      1. Position it about arm’s length. Too far away will let you lean forward.
      2. Position it directly in front of you so that your head, neck, and torso all face the same direction.
    3. Chair:
      1. Move or position the backrest to support your lower back.
      2. The backrest should be set so that the back of your knees do not touch the edge of the seat.
  • The height should be set so that the feet rest flat on the floor, your thighs parallel to the floor, with your knees bent at 90-degree angle.

 

Ergonomic Chair

 

The chair provides crucial support to your lower back and special attention must be given on the choice of the right chair. Some features that are necessary are:

 

  • Adjustability– The seat height must be adjustable.
  • Seat height range– The seat height must be adjustable for tall or short workers.
  • Backrest– The backrest must be adjustable vertically and in the frontward and backward directions. It must have a firm lumbar support.
  • Seat depth – Seats must suit the tallest and the shortest users.
  • Stability – The seat must be stable. A five-point base is best.

 

Having a properly designed chair is a good beginning but it may not bring the benefits expected if the user does not sit properly.

 

All the equipment and tools in the workstation must be ergonomic or “designed-in” to suit the users and minimize potential harm or injury to the worker, such as back pain. It is then up to the person to observe the safe practices and habits in using these tools in the workplace for him to fully benefit from them.