What are reasons for neck and back pain?

Everything is going along fine in life, then one day you start having pain for no reason. You can’t recall a certain event that reminds you why this could be happening. This has never happened to you before. So what is going on? This is a very common conversion that is had with many of my first time patients. At this point during the conversion I try to ask many questions and find out why this could have happened, so we can modify that activity so it no longer causes pain. These questions do yield answers, but not always on the first day, but something usual comes to light during the course of care. Once the person becomes more aware of the pain and their activities, the light comes on as to the cause, which they are eager to share at their next appointment. Below is a list that may help you realize why you are that nagging neck or back pain.

 

  1. Posture

This is the most common reason that I find for spinal pain. Bad posture is something that settles in over time. It is usually related to the position or positions that the patient is in for prolonged periods of time. Work seems to be the most common cause of poor posture. In an office setting I find neck pain to be the most common pain. This is related to the position of the computer screen, keyboard, and phone usage. While typing your shoulders are hunched forward and you neck is jutted out looking at the screen while you type. The head weighs about 13 lbs. and jutting it forward causes more strain on muscles in the back of your neck to support that forward head tilt. Over time those muscles become fatigued and pain sets in, the muscles are telling you its time for a break. This pain commonly goes from the base of the neck into the shoulder blades. The pain is usually described as dull or burning. The phone can cause a problem to. By cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder. This causes the trap muscles to be overworked. This position will lead to dull or burning pain with sore tight muscles.

  1. Poor Shoes

Shoes with improper support will also cause pain all the way into the lower back. Without the proper support on the inner foot, the foot will roll inward. As the foot rolls will causes a weight shift in the ankle, knee, hip and lumbar spine to counter balance the action of the rolled foot. When the foot rolls in the ankle has more weight on the outside of the ankle joint. While having a shift in weight at the ankle, the knee has a change weight dispersion, to the inside part of the joint. This re-balancing action continues all the way up the spine. As one segment goes one-way, the segment above goes the other way. Over time this balancing act will cause stabilizing muscles to become over worked and lead to pain. Pain can also come from different joints in the spine supporting extra weight, which can lead to an irritation called facet syndrome.

  1. A bad bed or pillows

A bad bed and poor supporting pillows will put your neck and back in a poor position. Over time this will irritate the body leading to pain. Stomach sleepers seem to have more lower back and neck pain from being in a unsupported position during sleep. Side sleepers have more lower back symptoms due to the twisting in the lower spine, which causes torque on the disks. A new bed is not the first fix. I’ll have the patient change pillows first and then educate them how changing their positioning during sleep can be beneficial to them in decreasing pain, while getting a better nights sleep.

 

  1. Activities with Lifting and Twisting.

This action of lifting and twisting causes most lower back conditions. This action can lead to pulled muscles, spasms, and disc injury. The lower back is not designed to do this action. Bending over already causes muscles in the lower back to work harder to support this position. When adding the extra weight of lifting an object you are adding even more work to those muscles. This is when spasms and pulls are going to happen. The muscles have reached their max capacity and shut down. The added action of lifting while bent over and twisted causes even more damage the spine and the supporting muscles. The twisting action torques the lumbar disc, which creates a shearing motion on the disc. This causes a disc to become herniated. The herniation will weaken the disc going forward in all positions, as well as cause irritation to spinal nerve roots. This will be a very severe sharp pain that can radiate into the legs. If untreated and not managed properly this will lead to degenerative disc disease or even surgery to correct the disc.

 

The Fix

So how does a chiropractor fix these issues? You need to work, walk, sleep and lift objects. Well the fix is treatment and activity modifications. Treatment will address any joint that needed to be realigned. The ankles. knees, hips and spine can all be adjusted by a chiropractor. The adjustment will balance the joint again and take the stress off over worked muscles. A chiropractor will also give you tips on how to set up your desk to put you in a better posture while at work. One simple fix is to raise the screen up the eye level; this stops the forward jutted head position. If your shoes are a problem a chiropractor can fit you for orthotics, which will add the missing arch support you don’t have in your shoes. A firmer pillow can support the neck during sleep, while a pillow between your legs helps reduce twisting in the lower back of side sleepers. Teaching proper lifting motions and supplying exercises for home use can make lifting less dangerous to your spine. A chiropractor will help get you out of your current pain and give you a plan on how to keep the pain away. Most of this pain is due to poor posture and once the offending action is identified it can be modified to help you in the future. Finding the problem by communicating with you chiropractor is key. Your doctor is there to help you, talk to them and let them find the reason behind the pain.

-Dr. Travis Early, DC

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