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Overcome the Fear of Movement After Auto Injury!

Overcome the Fear of Movement After Auto Injury!

Imagine what happens when you injure your neck in an auto injury…

Your muscles contract, there’s a burst of pain, and a soreness that makes you want to avoid moving your neck too much or turning too far. You may worry about re-injuring yourself or you may think, “I could do more harm than good by moving my neck.” Unfortunately, not moving your neck after an auto injury can actually be worse for your recovery, especially for people after a car accident.

A new study examined the effects of fear of movement on neck disability and range of motion in 98 patients after a car crash!

While the patients’ injuries ranged in severity, all of the patients had pain for under a month and all were injured in an auto collision. Researchers measured patients’ levels of fear using two different scales. They also examined neck range of motion and degree of neck disability. Patients were evaluated after one, three, and six months after the injury.

Patients who were more afraid to move their neck had more severe neck disability and reduced range of motion. Increased fear also prolonged the symptoms. In contrast, patients with lower levels of fear were more likely recover before the six month follow up.

Maintaining movement after an injury does more than just reduce anxiety. It also ensures that tissues don’t become more tense, restricted or damaged. Chiropractic can help you with recovery, because chiropractic works by restoring the normal movement and function of your neck and back.

Conclusion

If you’ve been in a car crash, don’t wait to get treatment. It’s important to get your spine moving again as soon as possible! Chiropractic can help you on the path to recovery!

Article shared from the following website: https://www.chironexus.net/2017/10/fear-movement-after-auto-injury/

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

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You have no doubt overheard someone at work or at a party telling his friends that he never wears a seat belt—and that he has some really good reasons.  The story usually goes something like this:  He heard from a buddy he knows that a friend of a friend who was not wearing a seat belt had a bad car accident and walked away from it because he was thrown clear of the car.  This is one of the most pervasive car safety myths out there. And if you believe this myth, you could be setting yourself up for serious injury or death.

Although there are a small handful of cases in which someone has survived a car accident after being thrown from the car, this is a very rare occurrence.  In fact, you actually have a 25 percent greater chance of being killed if thrown from the car.  Just consider the physics of the situation.  The force applied to your body when a collision occurs can be strong enough to propel you 150 feet, which is equivalent to about 15 car lengths.  And you would not just be flying gracefully through the air either.  First, your body may go crashing through the windshield, it may scrape along the rough asphalt for yards, and then you could end up getting crushed by your own car or someone else’s.  This is not to mention the other objects you may be hurled into when flung from the car.  Statistics from a study performed by researchers at James Madison University show that the proper use of a seat belt reduces serious injuries from traffic accidents by 50 percent and fatalities by 60 to 70 percent.  It’s a simple thing that can protect your health and save your life—wear seat belts.

Another common myth is that bracing for impact causes more damage to your body, and that it’s best to remain relaxed.  Of course, actually having the ability to choose one way or another about bracing has a lot to do with how much time you have before impact.   Many accidents occur in the blink of an eye, so suggesting that someone should “stay relaxed” has really limited practical value.  However, the most current science indicates that if you have time, bracing for impact will likely reduce the amount of injury, particularly to tendons and ligaments.

One of the most common types of injury from an auto accident is whiplash, which occurs in about a third of all collisions.  If you see a car approaching in your rear view mirror that you believe is going to collide with yours, the best thing to do is to press your body against the seatback, with your head pressed firmly against the head rest. This way you are less likely to suffer injuries to the ligaments in your neck, as your head will not be slammed back against the head rest, then flung forward.

Auto accidents are never pleasant, but by knowing the facts about auto safety you can help reduce your chances of sustaining a serious injury.  If you do end up in an accident, it’s always a good idea to get a medical evaluation promptly, even if you think you haven’t suffered any significant injuries.  Many auto injuries take time for their symptoms to become apparent or significant enough for victims to recognize how badly they may have been hurt.  By the time the symptoms are obvious, the victim and his or her doctor may have lost a valuable opportunity to treat the underlying injuries.  Please call or visit the office if you or someone in your family has recently been involved in an auto accident.

Spinal Health at the Gym—Form Matters!

Spinal Health at the Gym—Form Matters!

Whether you are an athlete training for competition or someone who visits the gym regularly just to keep fit, protecting your back and spine from injuries during workouts is important. A large-scale University of Arkansas study found that after injuries to the hand, injuries to areas ranging from the neck to the lower back were the most common type of gym-related injuries.

Back injuries at the gym are more common today due to the large amounts of time we spend sitting at a desk or hunched over a computer. According to personal trainer Justin Price, a specialist in functional fitness and corrective exercise, “If someone is rounded throughout the day in their upper back, and then they go to the gym and do an overhead shoulder lift standing, their upper back cannot extend properly. They straighten and arch upward from their lower back, which has a nervous breakdown because it’s getting all the stress.”

Price suggests that in order to avoid injury you consider getting a personal trainer who can show you the proper way of performing exercises and using equipment. The most important way to maintain good spinal health is to strengthen your core muscles. These are the muscles that lend strength and support to the spine, and which tend to become weakened with long periods of sitting. Following are a few tips on how to use proper form when exercising or lifting weights in the gym.

Tighten your gluteus muscles – When performing a squat, deadlift, or during pushups, be sure to squeeze your glutes. This ensures that the muscles connecting your lumbar and sacral areas are locked so your hips and lower back move as a single unit. Otherwise there is a tendency for the lower back to curve, with the vertebral discs being exposed to more stress than they are designed to handle.

Tighten your abs – So as to keep your spine from arching too much in either direction, tighten your abdominal muscles like you are preparing to be punched in the stomach. This will provide stability to the spine as you bend and lift.

Pull your shoulders down and back – A rounded upper back is one of the leading causes of back injury. It increases pressure on the front side of the vertebral disks, increasing the risk of disc herniation.

Keep hips and shoulders aligned – Back injuries happen more often when twisting and bending. Ensure that your hips and shoulders move as one unit. If you need to change direction, lead with the hips and the shoulders will follow. If you lead first with the shoulders, the hips tend to fall behind, too late to keep from overstraining the low back muscles.

 

Neck Pain Causes

Neck Pain Causes

Cervical spine disorders.
Most Common Neck Pain Causes: Strains and Sprains

The most common causes of neck pain—strains and sprains—heal within a few days or weeks. A strain is when a muscle or tendon has been irritated by overuse or overextension. Similarly, a sprain is when a ligament has been irritated by overuse or overextension.

Common causes of neck strains and sprains include:

    • Sleeping in wrong position. Often referred to as a “crick” in the neck, a person might wake up in the morning with neck pain due to sleeping in an awkward or atypical position that overextended the neck.
    • Sports injury. A person could move the neck suddenly and/or in an unusual way in a new sport, or a player could have a collision or fall. A common sports collision injury is a stinger, which happens when nerves in the neck/shoulder are impacted and pain, numbness, and weakness can radiate down the shoulder, arm, and hand.
    • Poor posture. Whether it’s at work, home, and/or commuting, poor posture can lead to neck problems. If a person’s head is often tilted forward for long periods of time, then the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments need to work harder. Poor posture can be problematic during any number of activities, including working at a computer, watching TV, riding the train, reading a book, gardening, and more. Text neck, for example, is an increasingly common problem that develops in anyone who spends hours looking down at the phone while texting.
    • Repetitive motions. Turning the head in a repetitive manner, such as side to side while dancing or swimming, may lead to overuse of the neck’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
    • Holding the head in unusual position. Anything that requires holding the head in an unusual way for long periods of time could cause neck strains and sprains. Some examples include having a long conversation while cradling a phone between the head and shoulder, or spending an afternoon looking up at an air show.
    • Whiplash. In a whiplash injury, the head and neck are forced suddenly backward and immediately forward with a great deal of force. The soft tissues along and near the cervical spine can be torn or ruptured as a result. This type of injury commonly occurs in an auto accident that involves a rear-end collision.

Causes of Chronic Neck Pain

Neck pain is considered chronic when it persists for more than 3 months. These conditions tend to stem from problems in the cervical spine either with a facet joint or disc. Common causes include:

  • Cervical degenerative disc disease.
    Everyone experiences wear and tear on the cervical spine over time. It’s natural for the discs to gradually lose hydration and the ability to cushion the spine’s vertebrae. If a disc degenerates enough, it can lead to painful irritation of a cervical nerve in various ways, such as a herniated disc, pinched nerve, or changes in the facet joints that can cause arthritis.
  • Cervical herniated disc A cervical disc is herniated when its jelly-like inner layer, the nucleus pulposus, leaks out through a tear in the disc’s protective outer layer. This could result from an injury or aging. A herniated disc may press against or pinch a cervical nerve, or the inflammatory proteins of the nucleus pulposus may come close enough to a nerve to cause irritation.
  • Cervical osteoarthritis
    When the cartilage in a cervical facet joint wears down enough, it can lead to cervical osteoarthritis, also known as cervical spondylosis. Rather than having the facet joints move smoothly along cartilage as intended, they might grind bone on bone. The joint could become enlarged from inflammation and bone spur growth, causing a nearby nerve to become pinched or pressed
  • Cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy Spinal stenosis occurs when the spine’s degeneration leads to a narrowing of the spinal canal, such as from a herniated disc that pushes into the spinal canal or bone spurs that grow into the canal. When the spinal canal narrows enough to compress the spinal cord—a large bundle of nerves that runs inside the spinal canal—myelopathy can result. Myelopathy is when compression of the spinal cord starts causing symptoms, such as weakness or problems with coordination in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
  • Cervical foraminal stenosis This condition occurs when the foramina—the holes in the vertebral construct through which nerve roots that branch off from the spinal cord can exit the spinal canal—become narrowed. This narrowing of the hole can cause irritation for the nerve root that runs through it. Foraminal stenosis is associated with radiating pains in a pattern specific to the nerve that is pinched by the narrowing. In some situations, there is a combination of the cervical stenosis causing myelopathy, as well as the specific nerve pattern associated with a cervical foramen being narrowed.

Other Causes of Neck Pain

While not the most common causes of acute or chronic neck pain, other causes of neck pain could include:

    • Emotional stress. Sometimes muscles in the neck can tighten up and ache in response to stress, anxiety, or depression.
    • Infection. If part of the cervical spine becomes infected, then inflammation could cause neck pain. One example would be meningitis.
    • Myofascial pain. This chronic condition has trigger points, which result from achy muscles and surrounding connective tissues, typically in the upper back or neck. Trigger points can be chronically painful or only painful to the touch. The pain might stay in one spot or it can be referred pain that spreads to/from another area in the body.
    • Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is hard to diagnose, but it typically involves pain in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in several areas of the body, including in the neck.
    • Spinal tumor. A tumor, such as from cancer, could develop in the cervical spine and press against a nerve. These types of tumors more commonly occur as cancer that has started in another part of the body metastasizes.
    • Spondylolisthesis. This condition occurs when one vertebra slips over the one below it. It can be due to a tiny fracture in the vertebra, or possibly from advanced disc degeneration, or ligament laxity.
    • Ankylosing spondylitis. This progressive arthritis of the spine and pelvis can cause widespread inflammation, pain and stiffness throughout the spine, including the neck.

Risk Factors for Developing Neck Pain

Some research indicates that getting unhealthy amounts of sleep, being inactive, and smoking can all raise the risk of developing neck pain.2 In addition, working longer hours or being in a labor-intensive occupation, such as the military, health care support, or installation and maintenance, may increase the risk for neck pain.3

References

  1. Croft PR, Lewis M, Papageorgiou AC, et al. Risk factors for neck pain: a longitudinal study in the general population. Pain. 2001; 93(3):317-25.
  2. Yang, Haiou PhD; Haldeman, Scott DC, MD, PhD; Nakata, Akinori PhD; Choi, BongKyoo ScD, MPH; Delp, Linda PhD, MPH; Baker, Dean MD, MPH. Work-related risk factors for neck pain in the US working population. Spine. 2015. 40(3):184-192.
Neck Cracking and Grinding: What Does It Mean?

Neck Cracking and Grinding: What Does It Mean?

Most people at some point have heard cracking or grinding noises in their neck upon movement. These sounds, also called crepitus, are usually painless and typically do not represent anything serious.

However, if the neck cracking noise is accompanied by pain, swelling, or some other concerning symptoms, then it may represent a problem that should be checked by a qualified health professional.

Possible Causes of Neck Cracking

Crepitus, sometimes called crepitation or cavitation, refers to any type of noise or sensation such as a cracking, popping, snapping, or grinding sound that is heard during neck movement. For example, feeling a cracking sensation in the neck when turning the head to back up the car.

Crepitus can occur in any moveable joint in the body, and there are many moveable joints in the neck. The neck joints are bathed in an oily-like substance call synovial fluid, which allows motion to freely occur in between the bones.

The underlying cause of crepitus in the neck is still not yet fully understood.

Some likely causes of the neck cracking sound include:

Synovial joint fluid pressure changes
Various studies have been performed purposely cracking the synovial joints of the fingers, but the conclusions in medical literature as to what is actually making the noise have been mixed. In particular, a study published in 1971 indicated that the cracking sound of a joint was caused by the bursting of a gaseous bubble in the joint’s synovial fluid.1 However, a study published in 2015 reported that the cracking sound was actually from the bubble being created.2

Ligament or tendon moving around bone
Another possible factor in neck cracking could be the snapping sound of ligaments and/or tendons as they move over bones or other muscles or tendons located in the neck region.

Bone on bone grinding
While an uncommon cause of neck cracking, it’s possible for bone to grind against bone if the cartilage has worn down. This condition is called osteoarthritis. It occurs gradually with the normal aging process, or it can be accelerated if there has been a traumatic injury such as whiplash or a sports-related injury

This type of crepitation is typically accompanied by pain, limited neck motion, and the cracking sound is usually repeated over and over with each movement. This experience is in contrast to the typical gas bubble formation crack, where it typically takes about 20 minutes before cavitation, or the cracking, can again occur.

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

Auto Accident Folklore—Being Thrown Clear and Bracing for Impact

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You have no doubt overheard someone at work or at a party telling his friends that he never wears a seat belt—and that he has some really good reasons.  The story usually goes something like this:  He heard from a buddy he knows that a friend of a friend who was not wearing a seat belt had a bad car accident and walked away from it because he was thrown clear of the car.  This is one of the most pervasive car safety myths out there. And if you believe this myth, you could be setting yourself up for serious injury or death.

Although there are a small handful of cases in which someone has survived a car accident after being thrown from the car, this is a very rare occurrence.  In fact, you actually have a 25 percent greater chance of being killed if thrown from the car.  Just consider the physics of the situation.  The force applied to your body when a collision occurs can be strong enough to propel you 150 feet, which is equivalent to about 15 car lengths.  And you would not just be flying gracefully through the air either.  First, your body may go crashing through the windshield, it may scrape along the rough asphalt for yards, and then you could end up getting crushed by your own car or someone else’s.  This is not to mention the other objects you may be hurled into when flung from the car.  Statistics from a study performed by researchers at James Madison University show that the proper use of a seat belt reduces serious injuries from traffic accidents by 50 percent and fatalities by 60 to 70 percent.  It’s a simple thing that can protect your health and save your life—wear seat belts.

Another common myth is that bracing for impact causes more damage to your body, and that it’s best to remain relaxed.  Of course, actually having the ability to choose one way or another about bracing has a lot to do with how much time you have before impact.   Many accidents occur in the blink of an eye, so suggesting that someone should “stay relaxed” has really limited practical value.  However, the most current science indicates that if you have time, bracing for impact will likely reduce the amount of injury, particularly to tendons and ligaments.

One of the most common types of injury from an auto accident is whiplash, which occurs in about a third of all collisions.  If you see a car approaching in your rear view mirror that you believe is going to collide with yours, the best thing to do is to press your body against the seatback, with your head pressed firmly against the head rest. This way you are less likely to suffer injuries to the ligaments in your neck, as your head will not be slammed back against the head rest, then flung forward.

Auto accidents are never pleasant, but by knowing the facts about auto safety you can help reduce your chances of sustaining a serious injury.  If you do end up in an accident, it’s always a good idea to get a medical evaluation promptly, even if you think you haven’t suffered any significant injuries.  Many auto injuries take time for their symptoms to become apparent or significant enough for victims to recognize how badly they may have been hurt.  By the time the symptoms are obvious, the victim and his or her doctor may have lost a valuable opportunity to treat the underlying injuries.  Please call or visit the office if you or someone in your family has recently been involved in an auto accident.

Auto Accidents Can Spell Trouble at Any Speed

Auto Accidents Can Spell Trouble at Any Speed

speedometer-200-300When we hear the words “car accident,” many of us probably think about dramatic multi-vehicle, highway-speed collisions that involve lots of victims and first responders—firefighters, police officers, EMTs and perhaps even helicopter pilots.  These are the types of automobile-related accidents that can snarl traffic for miles and make the evening news.  However, these are NOT necessarily the types of accidents that cause the largest numbers of injuries.  To understand these, you’d have to look at the other end of the spectrum—high-frequency, low-intensity accidents.  Here’s what we’re talking about:

Stationary or Parked Car Accidents.  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 the car isn’t even moving.  This includes doors closing on fingers. Another 10,000 are injured while using a jack and 74,000 are injured by a car or car part falling on them.

Vehicle-on-Pedestrian or Vehicle-on-Bicyclist Accidents.  Roughly one-third of auto-related injuries occur due to an automobile striking someone, particularly pedestrians and bicyclists. The damage can include anything from simple scrapes and bruises to multiple broken bones or internal injuries.

Non-Traffic Crashes and Non-Crash Incidents.  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 that don’t happen on a highway.

Perhaps one of the most important things to understand about auto accidents is that you don’t need to be traveling fast to be hurt.  In fact, even low-speed accidents can cause musculoskeletal injuries.  This is especially true in cases where the vehicle’s body doesn’t flex or crumple to absorb the energy of the impact and that energy is instead transmitted to the occupants inside.  And—while modern safety equipment certainly helps prevent many serious or fatal injuries—minor to moderate injuries are still very, very common.

It’s all about physics.  During a collision, the driver and passengers can be thrown about within the vehicle, potentially causing significant injuries from rapid acceleration and deceleration as well as impacts.  Head, neck and back injuries are among the most common.  However, low-speed accidents can be particularly problematic because victims often don’t immediately recognize that they’ve been hurt.  After these sorts of collisions, many simply walk away from the event without going to a qualified healthcare provider for a prompt medical evaluation.  And since it is very common for symptoms to appear days, weeks or even months afterward, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries can be significantly delayed, potentially complicating—and lengthening—the recovery process.

Have you or someone you care about been involved in an auto accident?  If so, your chiropractic physician is specially trained to recognize the kinds of spinal and soft tissue injuries associated with automobile accidents of all types.  Based on a careful assessment, he or she can design a treatment plan to help you recover as quickly and completely as possible.  As experts in diagnosing and treating injuries that affect the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, chiropractors can offer a broad range of treatment options to relieve pain and restore function.  These include chiropractic manipulation and mobilization, traction, massage, low-level laser and hot and cold pack therapies as well as structured exercise and stretching programs.

Auto accidents can be challenging for victims in many different ways—physically, emotionally and financially.  The goal of our clinic is to accelerate the body’s healing process so that you can return to a productive, active lifestyle.  We’re here to help—call or visit our office to learn more.

What You Should Know About Recovering from Auto Injuries

What You Should Know About Recovering from Auto Injuries

ambulance-200-300America’s roads have become far safer across the past three decades.  By just about any measure, travelers are much less likely to be injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident than they were in the late 1980s and early 1990s. And this is true even though we’re driving more miles each year!

However, automobile accidents are still notoriously hard on the musculoskeletal system, and there is still a very real risk of back and neck injuries—even when drivers and passengers are protected by the latest safety equipment.  In fact, recent research suggests that some types of injuries—particularly to the thoracic and lumbar regions of the back—may actually be more likely when safety belts are used.  There is also some evidence that airbags may contribute to more severe neck injuries when they deploy.

At the same time, other developments are also changing the nature of auto injuries.  For instance:

  • Smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles are good for the environment, but they pose additional risks to their passengers when they collide with larger cars, SUVs and trucks.
  • Lifestyle and demographic trends are resulting in greater numbers of overweight and obese people on the roads as well as larger numbers of seniors, who tend to have frames that are smaller and more fragile.

So even though the overall fatality rate and the rate of serious injuries should continue to fall as safety systems continue to improve, minor to moderate injuries from auto accidents will continue to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.

What You Need to Know

Even in cases where drivers and passengers walk away from a wreck believing they’re “uninjured”, accidents can have profound, long-lasting health consequences for those involved.  It’s not uncommon for some types of symptoms to appear only gradually days or weeks after the event itself, delaying effective diagnosis and treatment.  Symptoms may also come and go intermittently, making it more difficult to associate them with the accident.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to safeguard your health and improve your chances of a more rapid, complete recovery following an auto accident.  Clinical studies have demonstrated that chiropractic care can shorten recovery time and decrease the amount of permanent physical damage sustained in a collision.

  • Take care of first things first. Always address any life-threatening injuries first.  If you experience (or have reason to suspect) significant bleeding or bruising, broken bones, internal pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or shock, you should seek immediate help from healthcare professionals who specialize in treating trauma injuries.
  • Visit your chiropractor as soon as possible after an accident. Do this even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt very badly. Research has shown that early intervention in the form of chiropractic adjustment, massage, laser therapy and supervised exercise and stretching programs can make a big difference in longer-term function.
  • Stay as active as you can throughout your recovery. Activity encourages blood flow to the injured area and promotes healing.  It also helps prevent or reduce scar tissue formation and maintain range of motion.
  • Strengthen the affected area(s) as directed. Exercise and stretching programs are designed to help prevent future injuries and are an important part of a balanced treatment plan.
  • Recognize that you may be at increased risk of developing chronic problems. Be sure to tell your doctor if any of the following warning signs apply:
  • A prior history of back, neck or shoulder problems (including previous injury).
  • Distinct numbness, tingling or pain immediately following an accident.
  • Increased muscle tension or reduced range of motion after the crash.
  • You were involved in a rear-end collision.
  • Your head was turned at the moment of impact.
  • You have symptoms that don’t resolve or that become generalized.
  • Do your best to avoid becoming frustrated with the pace of recovery. Setbacks are common and it is not unusual for some symptoms to come and go.

An auto accident can affect your health (and your lifestyle) for years if you don’t receive the proper treatment.  So if you or someone you care about has been injured in a collision, please call our office and make an appointment today.  Chiropractic care can help put your recovery in high gear!

What is a “Normal” Pain Tolerance?

What is a “Normal” Pain Tolerance?

man-in-pain-distorted
man-in-pain-distorted

Pain is a nearly universal human experience that has several aspects. The first thing we usually think about in relation to pain is its trigger or cause. Perhaps you stub your toe, cut your finger while chopping vegetables, or feel the beginnings of a headache coming on. When this kind of thing happens, your body initiates a physical process driven by your anatomy and physiology. Your senses transmit a message through your nerves to your brain, saying “Something is wrong.” The second aspect of pain, however, is psychological and emotional rather than physical—how do you react to the message that your body is experiencing trouble? Do you ignore the headache and continue with your activities, or do you have to stop what you’re doing and focus on the pain to try to make it go away?

When it comes to our response to pain, two factors are also in operation. These relate to the idea of sensitivity. Pain threshold is the point at which pain first begins to be felt, and pain tolerance is the point at which a person reaches the maximum level of pain they are able to tolerate. When attempting to define what “normal” responses to pain are, both factors must be examined.

“Normal” responses to pain are difficult to determine because they vary so widely.

Some people may react to a bad headache by ignoring it and continuing to work, while others may react to a headache they rate at the same subjective level of pain by becoming completely incapacitated and having to lay down and close their eyes until it goes away. So what factors determine these differences in people’s tolerance of pain, and what can we say about them?

First, there seem to be differences in pain tolerance between men and women, with men exhibiting slightly higher pain tolerance than women. But this generalization can be affected by the oddest things. For example:

  • Studies of dental patients suggest that redheads have lower pain tolerances than people with other hair colors, and actually need higher doses of anesthesia during oral surgery.
  • Athletes have been proven to have higher pain tolerances than people who don’t exercise.
  • People who smoke or are obese are more likely to have low pain tolerances.
  • People who are depressed or anxious are more sensitive to pain and have lower tolerances.

There are also biological factors such as genetics, previous spinal cord damage, and chronic diseases that cause nerve damage that affect how we perceive, interpret, and manage pain. So the problem of defining what constitutes a “normal” level of pain tolerance becomes very difficult. But we recognize intuitively that we’re beginning to approach our own pain tolerance when two things happen—first, the pain begins to interfere with our ability to function in some way and second, it causes us to seek help.

As healthcare professionals, we generally distinguish between acute pain—the pain that usually results from a specific injury or illness, lasts less than 6 months and goes away as the body heals—and chronic pain, which can persist or progress over longer periods of time and may have no clear cause.

Depending on the situation, help may come in the form of common over-the-counter analgesics like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen, or from more powerful drugs like opioids. Sometimes it may come in the form of ice, heat or topical treatments. And other times it may come in the form of hands-on therapies like chiropractic and massage.

Whatever your level of pain tolerance happens to be, you can get better at handling pain.

Because of the many factors that can potentially affect pain tolerance, managing one’s pain can be a challenging process of trial and error. You can’t change your genetic pain receptors and how sensitive they are, and dying your hair another color if you’re a redhead isn’t going to make you less susceptible to pain. But there are coping mechanisms that can influence the brain’s perception of pain and help you manage it, effectively increasing your pain tolerance. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback, chiropractic manipulation, massage, and mindfulness meditation have all shown surprising success at enabling people who suffer from chronic pain to manage it more effectively without the ongoing use of drugs.

So if you are one of the 25% to 30% of adults living with musculoskeletal pain, contact our office and ask for help—it IS available, and doesn’t necessarily have to come in a pill bottle!

Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Range of Motion in Your Neck

Top 5 Exercises for Increasing Range of Motion in Your Neck

girafe réticulée 06Pain and stiffness can significantly reduce your neck’s range of motion. Although a decreased range of motion in your neck may not seem like a major problem, it can actually contribute to a number of unpleasant conditions, including headache, fatigue, irritability and sleep loss. Like any other part of the body, our neck can become stronger and more flexible through exercise. Following are some useful exercises that can help to increase the range of motion in your neck.

All these exercises should be done while sitting comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your neck in a neutral position. Your neck should be positioned right above your spine (in other words, be sure your head is not jutting forward or back), and you should be looking straight ahead. If you feel pain (rather than just discomfort) while doing any of these exercises, stop immediately and do not resume them until you have consulted with your chiropractor.

1) Neck rotations – Keeping your head level, gradually turn your head to the right as far as you comfortably can, looking over your right shoulder, and hold for 10 seconds. Then slowly turn your head to the left, looking over your left shoulder, and hold for another 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

2) Neck tilts – Tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear as close to your shoulder as possible, and hold for 10 seconds. Do the same on the other side, tilting your head to the left, again holding for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.

3) Neck flexion and extension – This is simply bending your head forward and back. Beginning in a neutral position, gradually bend your head forward, letting it hang with your chin close to your chest, and hold for 10 seconds. Then slowly bring your head up and back so that you are looking at the ceiling. Repeat 5 times.

4) Half circles – Start by tilting your head toward your right shoulder as far as possible, then slowly swing it to the left in a fluid half-circle, moving your head forward and down until your chin is close to your chest, continuing until your head is tilted to the left with your left ear above your left shoulder. Then repeat the movement in the other direction.

5) Levator scapulae stretch – Tilting your head to the right over your shoulder, turn and drop your head slightly so that your nose is pointed toward your elbow, and hold for 10 seconds. You should feel the stretch in the muscle connecting the back of the left lower neck to your shoulder blade. Repeat on the other side.