Your body tends to breakdown over time. Not taking care of yourself along with previous injuries, stress, and harmful daily activities will speed the breakdown process.
In the neck, the first stage of deterioration is a loss of the neck curve as well as other misalignments of the neck bones. This will cause some changes in the muscles and ligaments in this part of the body or vice versa. At this point the discs and bone are still normal.
As you progress in the breakdown process (stage 2) we then start to see joint and bone changes along with more severe muscle, ligament, and tendon changes. By the way, in stage I neck pain may be occasional, but then at this stage it will be happening more often and becoming chronic.
At stage 3 we now start to see major neck degeneration and loss of bone mass. You may even have the beginnings of neck fusion. Your health problems at this phase of degeneration will be severe and chronic.
The last stage of neck degeneration or arthritis is stage 4. Here we will have severe breakdown with actual fusion and collapsing of the neck vertebrae. Misalignments will now become permanent as well as the health problems.
At stage 1 and 2 we can still repair a lot of the problems or symptoms, but as we move into stage 3 or 4 they become very difficult, if not impossible, to change. That being said, do whatever you can do to keep your spine healthy or it can cause permanent health problems.
January 29, 2010
At the Neck Pain Support Blog, we talk a lot about pain and how to deal with it. Some people completely succumb to it and let it take over their lives. Some succumb to a lifetime of medications, Dr’s Visits, depression, and anxiety. Others take a different approach and don’t let themselves become a victim of pain. Today I want to share a great story that I read on Salisbury Post, written by author By Shavonne Potts.
Each day, rain or shine, snow or heat, Ellen Phillips walks. She begins at her front door and ends up on a trail at Dan Nicholas Park.
This may not seem like a great achievement, but for a woman who in 2005 was told she'd be in a wheelchair by 2010, it's pretty miraculous.
In 2005, Phillips began having back and neck pain. Where most people have a curve from their spine into their neck, her neck is straight. She suffered severe arthritis in her neck and spine.
"I was unable to walk. The pain was unreal at times," she said.
Several years before the pain started, Phillips was on her way to pick up her daughter, Hailey, from school. A woman talking on her cell phone crossed the center lane and hit Phillips' vehicle. The pain didn't begin right away but over time. The accident happened in the late 1990s.
"One doctor said for me to stay in bed," she said.
So that's what Phillips did. In 2007, she found herself bedridden with constant, severe pain. The pain was so severe she didn't want to live.
"I begged God to let me die," she said.
"I was angry at God. I felt like 'Why (is) this happening?'" she said.
Phillips and her husband divorced, and she walked away from the business they owned together.
"At first I was really angry," she said.
She went to church, attended Bible study and she witnessed to others about her faith.
But there were the negative feelings to deal with.
"I was an angry white woman," she joked.
She took some of her frustrations out on her driveway. Like Jackson Pollack, her favorite artist, she splattered bright yellow, pink and blue paint all over the driveway.
Phillips' neighbors may have thought she was a little nutty, but she felt much better afterward, she said.
One of her doctors told her to lose at least 50 pounds, which she eventually did through diet and exercise. She now eats lots of fruits and vegetables, but no sugar or caffeine.
One day she began to draw just to say she had done something that day.
"I've never been a person to sit and do nothing," she said.
So she picked up a pen and paper.
"It was like wow, I didn't know I could do that," Phillips said.
She took her drawing ability as a gift from God.
Her mother, Blanche Cutshaw, always drew when Phillips was a child. Cutshaw still draws for herself. Phillips slowly began drawing more things and eventually got out of bed. She started walking to the end of her driveway. She slowly took more steps.
"Walking ... helps me to heal," she said.
She now walks five miles every day, except Sunday. Phillips has added daily yoga and meditation sessions to her routine. She kayaks in the summer every other day.
Phillips also hikes at Dunn's Mountain Park and Morrow Mountain State Park in Albemarle. She'd like to hike Mount Everest.
Hiking Everest is one of the many adventurous items on her "bucket list." Parachuting from a plane is another.
She buys a new pair of walking shoes every six months. She usually wears down the soles by that six month period.
"Usually I'm talking to God when I'm walking," she said.
Phillips said she's told God whatever it is he has going on in a given day, she wants the opportunity to be a part of it.
"It's been hard, but it's been the best thing," she said.
I loved reading Ellen’s Story.Personally, I come from a family who makes exercise a priority in life. Both my parents and my husbands parents like to walk- that is their main form of exercise. My mother not only walks and does breathing exercises, but she also does Yoga everyday- what a great way to stay healthy.
Remember you have to take the first step to becoming healthy. Ellen started by simply walking to the end of her driveway- So start with little tasks that you cannot fail. Then simply continue- I am convinced that simply walking everyday and enjoying sunshine (vitamin D) will add so much to your health and well being.
Another lesson to be learned from Ellen is to find a hobby- something that will keep you busy, relaxed and make you smile. Paint a watercolor, read the Harry Potter Series, walk to your local gas station to pick up the paper, learn how to type, learn how to speak Punjabi,write a personal blog - just do “some thing”. Lying in bed and feeling sorry for yourself will not make you healthier.
Wishing health and well being to all my readers
January 23, 2010
- Better Alignment of the head and neck
- Less chance of waking up with a stiff neck
- Less chance of snoring
- Better breathing and enhanced circulation
- Relief of neck pain and tingling in the arms and hands
- Overall better posture during the day
- Promotes deeper sleep
- Relief from chronic neck pain, especially neck pain from arthritis in the neck
- More comfort for sleeping on your back or on your side
January 17, 2010
In the January edition of Science news author Tina Hesman Saey presents a recent new study (published in Nature Neuroscience) that shows how certain brain fibers are affected by migraine sufferers. The study reveals that vision isn’t needed for light to spur migraine pain, but that light-sensing cells in the retina do play a role.
Continue to read the study here: Why Light Makes Migraines Work, by By Tina Hesman Saey Science News January 2010
January 16, 2010
In my home country of Canada, Ice Hockey is a very popular sport. A fast paced collision sport, there are bound to be injuries involved. So many possible ways to be injured: against another player, against the outside boards, against the goal posts just to name a few. And don’t forget that injuries can involve the skate blade, the hockey stick, the puck- what a risky, yet exciting sport.
Recently I read that Mike Smith who plays for the Tampa Bay Lightening team has been absent because from his goal tending duties because of a stiff neck.
"The main thing was I had stinging feeling in my neck, and it was obviously a concern especially after what happened last year," Smith said. "At least it wasn't my head, and I know the symptoms, I know what goes on and have a better understanding of why my vision was what it was. ... So right now it's just getting the neck feeling better and that will take care of all the rest of what's going on with my vision."
What Mike Smith is referring to is a concussion. Having suffered a concussion in the past, he knows the symptoms all too well. Last season he was not able to play in the final two months because he suffered a concussion. This time he was lucky- just a cervical strain after player Brooks Laich from Washington smashed into him on Tuesday.
What exactly is a concussion?
A concussion is an injury to the brain, that is caused by a sudden blow to the head or to the body. The power of the blow shakes the brain inside the skull, which temporarily prevents the brain from working normally.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
- Passing out
- Memory loss after the incident.
- Confusion- repeating the same question over and over
- Slurring words
- Not being able to concentrate
- Blurry vision,
- Ringing in the ears
- Seeing Stars
- Not being able to stand or walk
- having coordination and balance problems
- Nausea or Vomiting
What is important to consider is what happens after an injury such as this. Post Concussion symptoms can appear and be very serious. Even Mike Smith knew this. He took himself out of the game in fear of making the situation worse. He did not play in the second period just in case.
"It's not anything like a concussion symptom, it's more like those black dots I had that are still kind of lingering around and when things get tightened up in the back of my neck those tend to get a little worse," he said. "I felt it was better to be safe than sorry (to come out). I didn't want to play with something for two months again with something and then have something go really wrong."
What are the symptoms of a post-concussive syndrome ?
- Changes in your ability to think, concentrate, or remember.
- Blurry Vision
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as not being able to sleep or sleeping constantly
- Changes in personality such as becoming angry or anxious for no reason
- Lack of interest in your usual activities
- Changes in your sex drive
- Balance difficulties
At the level that Mike Smith is playing injuries are quite common. Limiting injuries to the head are important for long term health. Players (especially in high contact sports like hockey) have to be careful with repeated concussions because it can lead to severe brain disease. Injury to the brain can cause long term damage. Studies have shown that players who had multiple concussions suffered emotional and behavioral problems after their playing days were over, often culminating in erratic behavior, drug abuse and suicide or overdose.
As of right now, Mike Smith is taking it easy. Even with a diagnosis of cervical strain, rest and treatment are important.
: The National Hockey League
January 11, 2010
Today’s blog post is by presented by Dr. Matthew Bellinger, A Chiropractor in Central Connecticut, owner of Ct Spine and Disc Center. He distributes a monthly newletter filled with valuable information, updates, and tips for his patients.
The term “whiplash” refers to an injury to the neck muscles, the muscle attachments (tendons), ligaments, and sometimes the disks that lie between the vertebral bodies of the spine. In a rear-end collision, the cause of whiplash occurs from a sudden, rapid acceleration of the body and neck as the car is pushed forwards. In these first 50-75 milliseconds following impact, the head remains in the same place while the body is propelled forward. This is followed by a “crack-the-whip” movement of the head and neck when the muscles in the front of the neck stretch like rubber bands and suddenly spring the head forwards, all occurring in less than 300 msec. The force on the head and neck is further intensified if the seat back is too springy, or angled back too far. Also, if the headrest is too low, the head may ride over the top and more injury can result.
The treatment of whiplash varies from “watchful waiting” to a multidisciplinary team approach that includes neurology, physical therapy, chiropractic, psychology, and possibly surgery (rare). In a recent article published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (2009, March Vol. 88, No. 3, pp 231-8), the relationship between clinical, psychological and functional health status factors was investigated in a group of patients with chronic whiplash-associated disorder (WAD). A total of 86 patients with chronic WAD participated in the study and outcomes were tracked using questionnaires that measure pain, disability and psychological issues including depression, anxiety and catastrophizing. Physical examination factors included measuring the cervical range of motion. An analysis of the degree of neck disability and the relative contribution of physical vs. psychological factors revealed catastrophizing and depression played greater roles than did cervical range of motion. This suggests psychological factors play an important role in the outcome of whiplash.
The importance of this is that more than just the physical factors like range of motion should be focused on when treating chronic whiplash patients. Answering the patient’s questions, explaining the mechanism of injury and how that relates to their specific condition, and addressing depression, anxiety, coping, and other psychological issues is very important. Discussing treatment goals with patients is also very important.
For example, making light of the injury by stating something like, “…you’ll be fine after the treatments,” may harm the patient as anything short of “fine” may be interpreted as failed treatment by the patient. It is also important not to paint too dismal of a picture as that can have negative psychological effects as well, as this may suggest that they will never improve. Explaining the difference between “hurt” and “harm” is of great value to the chronic whiplash patient as they are often told, “if it hurts, don’t do it.” This sends an unfortunate message to the patient that any activity where an increase in pain occurs is “bad” when in fact, that activity may help the patient get better in the long run. This can make or break an acceptable outcome as many may feel like they shouldn’t do anything and this can lead to unemployment, boredom, and the many psychological issues previously described. The best advice is to remain active and try to ignore discomfort by staying within “reasonable activity boundaries.” Reasonable activity tolerance is learned as time passes and trying different activities for different lengths of time. This type of coaching should be at the center of chronic whiplash management rather than over focusing on physical factors such as range of motion.
January 06, 2010
The most common headache is a tension or stress headache. This type of headache tends to be cervicogenic in nature, meaning it originates from the neck. Tension to the neck muscles often develops from mental stress and/or poor posture which pulls on the spine creating misalignments and nerve pressure.
If you think about when you are angry, for example, what happens to your posture? Your muscles tighten, your head goes down and forward, and your shoulders go up. Try it. Get mad, or pretend to; what happens to your muscles? On the same token, if you smile and are happy you tend to sit up straight and muscles relax, and you feel a little better. This, by the way, is a great trick when stressed or depressed- put a big smile on your face and see how you feel.
The next type of headache is a migraine. Migraines tend to be a little more disruptive, causing severe pain and sometimes even dizziness, visual disturbances, or nausea. Migraines can also originate from the neck, but I find they often originate or are caused by the diet. Some kind of allergy or chemical factor that is disrupting the nervous system.
The third headache is a sinus headache. It tends to occur around the eyes and nose, where the sinuses are. They often are caused by allergies, infection, or cold. How do we get rid of or prevent each of these?
Solutions for Pain Relief From Headaches
The first headache I described – tension or stress headaches- the best thing to do is be aware of your posture. Try to stay relaxed, use a couple tricks I mentioned earlier. Next, take regular breaks when doing a lot of head-down work or computer work. Neck stretches and postural exercises will help also.
With migraines I also recommend the things I’ve mentioned, but you may often have to . I’ve ran into too many migraine sufferers that have eliminated their headaches by simply changing their diet to discount it. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy; process of elimination to find out what may be a trigger. I can tell you that a lot of people have allergies to dairy or gluten, and sometimes caffeine or alcohol can be a trigger.
For a sinus headache it’s very important to keep your sinuses clear. Use my salt water trick or a Neti pot to help this. A humidifier can help if it is very dry in your house this time of year.
Something I saved for last because it works well in preventing all headaches is a good neck pillow. Do you have a friend or relative who has improved their headaches by going to a chiropractor? Why does this treatment work so well- because it aligns the spine, eliminating nerve pressure. A good neck pillow does this too. If you have a major misalignment or have had a major trauma to the neck, you will probably need to see the chiropractor, but a neck pillow will help most cases.
January 02, 2010
In the neck we should be built with a “C” curvature. Looking at our spine from the side, if we had x-ray vision, you should see smooth slowing curves. A curvature in the neck and low back that opens to the posterior or back and a mid-body curvature that opens to the front or anterior.
Looking at our spine from the front or back with x-ray vision, you should see a spine that’s fairly straight up and down or vertical. This is a subject for another article, today we want to talk about the cervical curvature.
Any loss of the normal curvature will actually tension our cord and nerves. Imagine a rubber band that is relaxed with no tension, but then you pull and stretch it. When the C-spine is in its normal position- a smooth “C” curve of 30+ degrees, the spinal cord and nerves are relaxed. When you take that curvature and bend it the other way, the spinal cord and nerves become severely tensioned and stressed.
One common way that our normal curve in the neck is lost is due to a car accident, or whiplash-type injuries. The muscles and ligaments holding the spine in place get severely compromised or injured forcing the spine out of alignment. This is why someone suffering from whiplash injury can have a significant amount of neck pain. As we all can imagine, major whiplash injuries may cause a slew of other problems as well. Pain radiating into the hands, headaches, even more serious neurological problems.
January 01, 2010
Happy New Year to all of my Readers of the Neck Pain Support Blog ! May 2010 be a year of good health, and laughter for you and your families. This year my health goals include: drinking more water each day, exercising more, stretching more, and taking care of myself to be the best that I can be. What are your health goals for this coming year? What will you accomplish this year? Here we start a new year, a new decade--- make it a good one!
Author of Neck Pain Support Blog: NavJ
Your Stop for Neck Pain Relief
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