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Got Neck Pain? Upper Back Adjustments Can Help!

Got Neck Pain? Upper Back Adjustments Can Help!

Almost everyone experiences neck pain from time to time during their lives. Doctors estimate that on any given day, 10% of the adult population is suffering from a “stiff neck.” However, it’s a different story when that neck pain persists and becomes chronic. Chronic neck pain can result in both physical and emotional distress. Employment statistics suggest that neck pain is second only to back pain as a cause of missed work, affecting as much as 45% of the workforce.

If you have experienced chronic neck pain yourself, you may know that traditional medical doctors offer relatively few treatment options. You may also know that most of these options are intended only to manage the pain, not to address the underlying cause. However, recent research published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeuticsis hopeful, suggesting that chiropractic spinal manipulation significantly improves patients’ neck pain in a short amount of time.

In the study, 60 patients with chronic non-specific neck pain received spinal manipulation delivered by chiropractors in a double-blind, randomized trial. Two groups of 30 patients were created, and two different techniques of spinal manipulation were employed to adjust the thoracic vertebrae in the upper back. One technique had the patient lying prone (face down), and the other had the patient supine (face up). Measurements were taken before manipulation, immediately afterwards, and twenty minutes later. Little or no difference was found in the relative effectiveness of the two techniques, but both groups reported significantly reduced neck pain, while objective measurements showed significantly improved mobility (cervical range of motion) and a reduced sensitivity to pressure pain.

This study‘s findings correspond with an earlier study that compared the effectiveness of manual therapies provided by a chiropractor, a medical doctor, and a physical therapist to relieve neck pain. In that study, the success rate of the chiropractic groups at the seven-week mark was two times better (68.3%) than the other two groups. Patients in the study were able to use far less medication to treat their pain and reported far fewer work absences.

The recent findings also correspond to a survey of alternative health care treatments conducted by Consumer Reports, polling 45,601 of their subscribers. One in four respondents felt that they received better care from their chiropractors than from their medical doctors. More importantly, in this survey, chiropractic care outperformed all other treatments for both back pain (65% reporting that it “helped a lot”) and neck pain (64% similarly reporting that it “helped a lot”). In contrast, the respondents reported that prescription medications only helped 49% of the time.

It is gratifying to see that science is confirming what chiropractors and their patients have known for some time—that chiropractic spinal manipulation may be the most effective method for treating chronic neck pain. Whether your neck pain is acute or chronic, perhaps you should put your chiropractor at the top of the list of medical specialists to consult. Chiropractic care is safe, gentle, and—above all—it works.

If you are experiencing chronic neck pain, be sure to call Oblander Chiropractic and schedule an appointment with Dr. Greg Oblander! Our phone number is 406-652-3553.

Most Common Auto Injuries Explained

Most Common Auto Injuries Explained

Perhaps the most frequent injury involving automobiles comes from closing the door. Nearly 150,000 times a year, someone is injured in this fashion, and that’s with the car parked or stationary. This includes doors closing on fingers. Another 10,000 are injured by using a jack and 74,000 have been injured by a car or car part falling on them.

But cars also move. Roughly one third of auto-related injuries occur due to an automobile striking someone, particularly pedestrians and bicyclists. Injuries can include anything from simple scrapes to multiple broken bones, dislocated vertebrae and damaged internal organs.

A Forbes magazine article noted that researchers from the US Department of Transportation “estimated an annual total of 1,747 fatalities and 841,000 injuries due to non-traffic crashes and non-crash incidents.” These included back-overs and single-car collisions not on a highway.

During a collision, passengers can be thrown about within the car, or be ejected from the vehicle (particularly if not wearing a seatbelt), causing significant injuries. One of the most serious of these is called traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is when the brain becomes bruised or otherwise injured. This can happen when the head is forced into rapid acceleration and/or deceleration from impact with other objects, such as a windshield, the body of the car or objects outside of the car. Such brain injuries can result in brain function impairment or even death.

Neck injuries include whiplash and vertebrae disk damage. These can result in a range of effects from persistent, long-term discomfort to debilitating pain and even immobility. Whiplash is perhaps the most common malady, which happens when the neck snaps quickly backward (during acceleration), then forward (during deceleration), causing hyperflexion and hyperextension of the cervical vertebrae. After an accident, the victim may be unaware of any damage, but may experience headaches or neck stiffness hours or days later.

A chiropractor can recognize this kind of damage using a variety of diagnostic tests with and can treat it with multiple adjustments, massage therapy and repetitive exercises performed by the patient at home. The chiropractor may even recommend a traction weight bag to help the neck return to its natural curve. Sometimes the damage is permanent, but treatment can reduce the discomfort and decrease in range of motion that might otherwise plague the patient.

Damage anywhere along the spine can occur during a car accident. This type of injury can range from mild to life-threatening. Dislocated vertebrae can result in excruciating pain that can lead to tight back muscles which intensify the problem. Physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments can help return the patient to health. Rehabilitative therapy can also include hot packs, massage, cold packs, traction, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and other methods.

When the spine is injured, symptoms can include difficulty breathing, tingling, numbness, paralysis, arm weakness, leg weakness, and unusual bladder or bowel control. If you are experiencing these or other unusual symptoms, seek proper care from a chiropractor or other health professional immediately.

Spinal Anatomy 101

Spinal Anatomy 101

vertebrae-model-200-300 “Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where you backbone ought to be.”

-Clementine Paddleford, American Writer (1898 – 1967)

It’s no accident that so many philosophers and writers have used the backbone as a metaphor for discipline, force of will or character.  Your spine (or “backbone”) is the primary physical support for your body’s entire frame.  It’s a remarkable piece of natural engineering composed of 33 separate vertebrae that act as a single unit to provide stability as well as flexibility while you’re sitting, standing or in motion.  A healthy spine is both strong and resilient.  With proper nutrition, exercise, postural habits and chiropractic care, it can allow us to lead an active lifestyle well into old age.  However, poor biomechanics, injury and disease can cause problems with the spine that result in misalignment, inflammation, pain and restricted movement.

The spine develops from infancy into adulthood, gradually evolving from a C-shape, which is suitable for crawling, to its distinctive S-shape, which is the appropriate shape for two-legged walking.  The natural curves in the spine serve to cushion impact from movement, absorb shock, preserve balance, and allow range of motion.  The three main curves in the spine are known as the cervical curve (the neck region), the thoracic curve (the upper back) and the lumbar curve (the lower back).

There are 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral and 4 coccygeal vertebrae.  The sacral and coccygeal vertebrae are those located lowest in the spine, below the area of the lumbar curve.  Twenty-four of the vertebrae in your spine are moveable. They are cushioned by intervertebral discs which act like coiled springs. These discs are fluid filled and—as we age—become thinner and more brittle, often causing us to get shorter.  Over time (or as a result of excessive wear and tear or specific injury), they can degenerate, bulge or herniate, potentially causing significant pain and loss of mobility.

There are several other common spinal disorders.  Lordosis, also known as “sway back,” occurs when there is abnormal forward curvature of the lumbar spine.  Those who have abnormal curvature of the thoracic curve have kyphosis, or “hunchback.”  Scoliosis occurs when there is a side-to-side curvature in the spine. Slight curves of less than 20 degrees do not usually present health or problems and are seldom treated.  Moderate or severe curves usually require treatment because they can interfere with the functioning of internal organs and may significantly limit physical activity.

While the bones and connective tissues of the spine are very good at what they do, they cannot support the body’s weight and facilitate movement on their own.  They need the help of strong core muscles.  Good muscle tone is important to help maintain proper posture and spinal alignment.  This is why it’s so important for us to put effort into maintaining proper posture when we sit, stand, lie, walk and run.  Over time, poor posture can place unnatural stresses on the musculoskeletal system (especially the spine), limiting our range of motion and producing pain.

In addition to its role in supporting the body’s frame and facilitating movement, the spine has another important role as well.  The spine’s bony vertebrae also encase and protect the spinal cord, which is connected directly to the brainstem.  It’s hard to exaggerate how important this protection is.  Damage to the spinal cord can cause numbness and loss of motor function.  Injury to the cervical area can cause tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia), while injury to the thoracic or lumbar area may result in paraplegia, or loss of the use of the legs and trunk.

This article serves as a brief introduction to just one aspect of your anatomy.  If you are in the Billings area and need a Billings Chiropractor and you have any questions about your spinal health or your musculoskeletal health more generally, please don’t hesitate to call us at Oblander Chiropractic or visit our office (406-652-3553).  We’re here to help!

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