Understanding and Managing Neck Pain and Headaches Part 1

Neck Pain and Headaches are a very common in Winnipeg; understanding the causes and prevention of them can go a long way to leading a healthy and pain-free life. In this educational summary, we discuss some of the most common conditions we see in our office. Below we will review the following neck-related pain conditions.

1. Upper Crossed Syndrome

2. Headaches

3. Neck Sprain/Strain

Upper Crossed Syndrome

Upper Crossed Syndrome describes a type of common muscle imbalance. This occurs when the neck flexors and the middle back become weak while the chest muscles and the muscles at the base of the skull become tight.  This produces a familiar pain pattern at the base of the neck and the shoulders, as well as joint dysfunction at the base of the skull and shoulders.  Tech neck is a major contributor to an upper crossed posture.

The leading physical causes of this condition are:

- Desk job

- Too much sitting

- Driving long hours

- Poor posture

- Too much time on handheld devices.

However, with the proper education, you can protect yourself from many of these causes. The primary sufferers of this condition, especially chronic cases, often have poor posture while sitting at a desk for most of the day. A sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity also contributes to this. Poor sitting posture leads to a re-enforcement of the Upper Crossed Syndrome, and it is crucial that you arrange your workstation to facilitate a proper posture as best as possible.

The best way to combat this problem is, of course, to prevent it before it starts. If possible, minimize sitting for long periods of time and take frequent work breaks to take short walks around the office to reset your posture.

Click here for some simple exercises to help combat upper cross posture.

If the problem has already begun, our chiropractors can teach you proper form and posture to prevent this problem in the future so that you are more mindful of the positions that can promote this problem. We are also trained in soft tissue techniques that will be able to relax your tight muscles, restore motion and reduce pain levels. There are also methods of rehabilitative exercise that can be taught to you to reverse any damage already done and prevent a progression of this condition, as well as instill healthy habits for you to employ for the rest of your life.

Headaches

Headaches come in many varieties, and nearly everyone experiences this type of pain at some point in their lives. The typical symptom of all headaches is, of course characterized by pain. Different types of headaches cause pain in different regions of the head and have unique pain sensations. Some portion of people experiencing headaches can be characterized as migraines. Migraines often feature symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to lights.

The physical causes of this condition are numerous, but some of them are:

- Allergies

- Stress

- Poor posture

- Diet & exercise habits

- Hormonal imbalance

- Smoking

Since there are so many different types of headaches, as well as causes and symptoms, it is important to get a proper diagnosis so that you can better treat the cause. An assessment of your lifestyle habits is an effective way to diagnose common contributing factors that may be causing your headaches. For example, addressing your sleeping habits, making sure you get the proper amount of sleep and making sure you are getting restful sleep. A proper, healthy, balanced diet that is free of any substances that you may have a sensitivity to or may be, a trigger for headaches is important for managing this condition as well. Posture and body habitus can be huge contributing factors and may be some of the simplest to diagnose and manage. Treatment such as soft tissue modalities as well as chiropractic adjustments coupled with posture analysis and correction can be a simple and effective way of managing headaches of this type.

Click here to read more about headaches.

Neck (cervical) Strain/Sprains

Cervical strains and sprains are some of the most common injuries sustained to the cervical spine. A cervical strain is when an injury occurs to the muscles of the cervical spine. A sprain, on the other hand, is an injury to the ligaments or joints; both, however, have similar pain and symptom patterns. Patients suffering from this diagnosis often have pain when attempting to move the head and neck, especially at end ranges of motion. Another symptom that sufferers’ may experience is frequent headaches, which may not seem directly evident to the patient that the source of the headaches may be caused by their cervical strain or sprain.

Some common causes of this condition are:

- Automobile accidents

- Whiplash

- Contact sports injuries

- Repetitive overuse injury

- Prolonged poor posture

Obviously, some of the time these injuries are impossible to avoid, such as traumatic automobile accidents and whiplash injuries. At this point there are no steps for prevention and your next course of action is to seek treatment, usually with ice in the days immediately following the injury as well as treatments such as chiropractic, Active Release Technique, laser, acupuncture and massage.

In cases where the injury stems from a problem related to overuse, poor posture or improper exercise, there are steps that can be taken to help avoid these injuries from happening. Proper instruction in ergonomics in the workplace, fixing posture and instilling healthy habits, as well as receiving the proper knowledge in exercising can help build a better foundation for a healthy spine for life.

Check back for part 2 of this post.

Dr. Russell Baron

Chiropractor

Don't Waste Another Day Wishing You
Could Recover On Your Own

It's your time to take back your life and start a new chapter, pain-free.