The Causes of Neck and Upper Back Pain
Most neck and upper back pain are caused by a combination of factors, including injury, poor posture, chiropractic subluxations, stress, and in some instances, disc problems.
By far, the most common injury to the neck is a whiplash injury. Whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head, either backward, forward, or sideways, that results in the damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back. Whether from a car accident, sports, or an accident at work, whiplash injuries need to be taken very seriously. Because symptoms of a whiplash injury can take weeks or months to manifest, it is easy to be fooled into thinking that you are not as injured as you really are.
One of the most common causes of neck pain, and sometimes headaches, is poor posture. It’s easy to get into bad posture habits without even realizing it – even an activity as “innocent” as reading in bed can ultimately lead to pain, headaches, and more serious problems. The basic rule is simple: keep your neck in a “neutral” position whenever possible. Don’t bend or hunch your neck forward for long periods. Also, try not to sit in one position for a long time
Subluxations in the neck and upper back area are extremely common due to the high degree of stress associated with holding up your head, coupled with the high degree of instability in the cervical spine. Most subluxations tend to be centered around four areas: the top of the cervical spine where it meets the skull; in the middle of the cervical spine where the mechanical stress from the head is the greatest; in the transition where the cervical and thoracic areas of the spine meet; and in the middle of the thoracic spine where the mechanical stress from the weight of the upper body is greatest. Signs of subluxation include looking in the mirror and seeing your head tilted or one shoulder higher than the other.
When most people become stressed, they unconsciously contract their muscles. In particular, the muscles in their back. This ‘muscle guarding’ is a survival response designed to guard against injury. In today’s world where we are not exposed to physical danger most of the time, muscle guarding still occurs whenever we become emotionally stressed. The areas most affected are the muscles of the neck, upper back, and low back.
The discs in your cervical spine can herniate or bulge and put pressure on the nerves that exit from the spine through that area. Although cervical discs do not herniate nearly as often as lumbar discs do, they occasionally can herniate, especially when the discs sustain damage from a whiplash injury.
How does a strain/sprain heal?
A strain/sprain is a tear of a muscle, tendon or ligament tissue. The healing process varies depending on the severity of the tear but all tears heal in a 3 step process.
Step 1: Inflammatory phase: This phase lasts about 3 days and involves swelling to the injured body part. The swelling increases circulation and brings much-needed healing products to the site of the injury.
Step 2: Regenerative phase: This phase can last up to 6 months! It involves the body laying down collagen tissue to repair the injured structures. The collagen tissue is weaker, stiffer and more sensitive than the original tissue.
Step 3: Remodeling phase. This phase can last more than a year! During the remodeling phase, the body attempts to restore the injured site to its original state. At times there will be fibrous tissue or scar tissue left in the injured area which can cause chronic pain and stiffness in the area.
If you suffer an injury, treatment is intended to speed up recovery and reduce improper healing so don’t delay the care your body needs. Contact us today and one of our professional chiropractors in Studio City will be able to help you.
Why sit-ups won’t strengthen your abs?
It has been always been known that a good way to strengthen your abs is to do sit-ups. It is also widely known that doing sit-ups incorrectly can hurt your back. So what is the secret formula? Where is the fine line between strengthening your abs or causing an injury? The solution is simple but you must understand why the solution works. The function of the abdominal rectus muscles is to curl the rib cage down towards the pelvis. There is only a limited range that this contraction happens. Outside of that range, the hip flexors (iliopsoas) muscles are the main contributors. Anytime our legs are bent or elevated off the floor the hip flexors pop into action since the abs do not control the legs.
The solution is simple, don’t let the hip flexors compensate! I suggest to perform sit-ups with half the reps with the right leg resting and extended and to switch legs with the remaining reps. This will guarantee that you are not strengthening your hip flexors instead of your abs.
To begin the process and schedule your initial evaluation, you can give us a call at (818) 985-2559. Alternately, you could set it up by going through our site.