This is the first book review for “Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing.” My hope is to review current books, and perhaps a few older favorites, that focus on health and wellness. If there is a book you would like reviewed, please drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Neck Pain Handbook: Your Guide to Understanding and Treating Neck Pain.”
by Grant Cooper, MD, and Alex Visco, MD.
As we spend more of our time on the computer, cranking out e-mails, organizing our office tasks and shopping for the latest DVD, one of our vital body parts may be taking a severe beating. Neck pain is on the increase, and a chief reason is that we’re spending too much time sitting on our rear ends.
Two doctors have explored our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and have co-authored a splendid book titled, “The Neck Pain Handbook: Your Guide to Understanding and Treating Neck Pain.” The authors, Grant Cooper, MD, and Alex Visco, MD, point out that “A major contributor to neck pain– and the most important single reason for its steady increase–is the fact that our work situations are increasingly sedentary.” According to the authors, “Immobility for hours on end combined with poor positioning of the neck and shoulders ultimately leads to severe pain.”
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Dr. Visco says he and Cooper, while in training at New York Presbyterian, noticed an increase in patients complaining of neck pain. Visco noticed that “these were young, otherwise healthy people, who shouldn’t particularly have neck pain.” The two doctors picked up on this “phenomenon,” started asking questions of the patients, who were usually well-educated young professionals, and decided to write a book.
Man inherited active bodies, according to the doctors. Visco says “we were born to be active, we evolved over time to run, jump, throw, move and escape from danger. That’s the way our muscles are built….they are built for activity.” When you deactivate the muscles, adds Visco, mechanisms kick in, eventually producing pain. Muscles, tendons and ligaments tend to deteriorate.
The book describes the two aspects of the “Double Whammy,” immobility and poor positioning. Visco says the workplace plays a big role in poor posture. Technology “allows us to be immobile for so many hours of the day that these postural abnormalities sort of become habit forming over time, to the point where it becomes unconscious and you don’t even know you’re doing it.” Visco points out “you’re sitting there hunched over, your shoulders hunched forward, your neck flexed, it just becomes a way of life, the way you carry yourself.” To assist the reader, “The Neck Pain Handbook” features case studies as well as photographs that compare good and bad computer keyboard postures.
This informative paperback touches on how medication fits into the treatment program. Visco says “patients should probably avoid self treating themselves with over-the-counter medication.” According to Visco, you need to be cautious, especially if you are taking other medications or you have other medical problems, like diabetes, asthma, stomach problems or kidney disorders. Visco and Cooper focus on physical treatments first. “We try and use physical therapy, home exercise programs and stretching programs to help alleviate the underlying conditions.” Surgery is “always our last resort,” says Visco.
This compact 128-page book, written in easy-to-understand (no doctor talk) language, presents self-help options, such as “The 10-Minute Neck Exercise Program.” In a later chapter, Visco and Cooper describe more serious symptoms that require a doctor’s attention. If you want to explore other approaches to pain, there are chapters on acupuncture and meditation.
The authors wrap up their book with the message: “Respect your neck. Remember, it gives you everything it has to give. Its capabilities are astounding, but it also demands much of you.”
Review by Scott Keith
A Diamedica Guide To Optimum Wellness — DiaMedica Publishing