Tag Archives: neck pain

Neck Pain? See a Chiropractor! Spinal Manipulation is Superior to Medication According to Research

chiropractic adjustmentToday I’d like to share an article published by the Annals of Internal Medicine: “Spinal Manipulation, Medication, or Home Exercise With Advice for Acute and Subacute Neck Pain, A Randomized Trial.” This trial was a collaboration among medical doctors and chiropractors.

In this trial, 272 persons aged 18-65 were randomized to one of three intervention groups:

  1. Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT) Group: Sessions lasted 15-20 minutes and included manual adjustment (high velocity joint thrust) and mobilization (low velocity joint oscillation) to involved areas of the spine (areas of segmental loss of mobility). Additional therapies included light soft-tissue massage, stretching and hot/cold packs.

  2. Medication Group: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen or both were given as the first line of therapy. For those who did not respond, narcotic medications were used. Muscle relaxants were also used.

  3. Home Exercise with Advice (HEA) Group: Two 1-hour sessions were provided in which therapists instructed participants on simple self-mobilization exercises for the neck and shoulders. Participants were instructed to do 5-10 repetitions of each exercise 6-8 times per day.

Throughout the trial, participants rated their level of pain, disability, global improvement, satisfaction, general health status and any side effects. The study concluded that SMT was superior to medication for both the short and long term for pain as well as the other outcome measures for participants with acute or subacute neck pain. A few sessions of HEA produced similar positive outcomes. Of note, side effects were most frequent in the medication group (at 60% of participants) and were systemic in nature (mainly GI symptoms and drowsiness) compared to SMT (at 40%) and HEA (at 46%) which were primarily musculoskeletal (mainly muscle soreness).

So, what is the take home message here? If you have neck pain, see a chiropractor! A chiropractor is a spinal health expert. The purpose of chiropractic is to restore optimal function and mechanical balance in your body such that no one area is being over-worked. It also helps to restore optimal communication within the nervous system such that you can heal at your greatest potential. A chiropractor will examine the area of complaint (as well as related structures), provide a diagnosis and offer manual therapy and advice to treat the underlying problem so you may return to your normal activities that you love.

Neck pain is fairly prevalent, affecting an estimated 70% of people at some point in their lives. It can have a significant negative effect on quality of life. So why wait? See your chiropractor today!

Dr. Elisabeth Miron

The Forward Head Posture Epidemic

poor posture - forward head posture epidemicMost of us appreciate that posture is important. Ideal posture means there is a ideal distribution of forces across different joints in the body and balanced muscle tone. Optimal posture will help you to not only feel great but also look great and exude confidence!

Today, I’m going to talk about a common postural phenomenon – forward head posture. I’m calling this an epidemic because Webster’s dictionary defines epidemic as “affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region.” When I meet people in my community, I see this everywhere!

What is Forward Head Posture?

Forward head posture is when the head translates forward relative to the torso. It is also commonly associated with straight neck syndrome (when there is loss of the normal curvature of the neck). Ideally, when looking at a person from the side, the ear should line up with the shoulder. Forward head posture is common especially in students and office workers who sit at a desk for hours on end.

Causes of Forward Head Posture:

Common causes of forward head posture are…

  1. Carrying too heavy of a backpack or carrying it too low – the head often moves forward to counterbalance the weight of your bag.

  2. Slouching or leaning forward for prolonged periods at one’s workstation

  3. General lack of postural awareness

Symptoms Associated with Forward Head Posture:

Common symptoms associated with forward head posture are…

  1. Neck pain

  2. Tense and sore muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders

  3. Joint irritation

  4. Headaches

  5. Back pain (yes, even back pain!)

What causes these symptoms? Basically, there is suboptimal loading of the muscles and joints. The head is akin to a bowling ball – roughly 10 pounds – that sits atop your neck and shoulders. When it moves forward, the posterior neck muscles must work more to counterbalance your head. Hence, tense and sore muscles. When the muscles tense up, this also increased pressure between the joints. This, combined with shearing forces from suboptimal position, results in joint irritation. Joint irritation and excessive muscle tension in the neck often causes headaches due to pain referral. Irritated nerve endings in the neck refer pain to the head causing or contributing to tension headaches.

Now what about back pain, you ask? Yes, forward head posture can even cause back pain! All the joints and muscles in your body are functionally connected. Think back to high school physics class when you learned about levers. When an object moves further from the fulcrum, the turning force (or moment) becomes greater. You can apply this concept for lifting a large object by using a long lever. The only problem in your low back is that the lever is short and can’t be changed. So, when your head moves forward relative to your centre of gravity, your low back muscles must fire like crazy to counterbalance your head – otherwise you’ll fall over.forward head posture puts more load on the back

How to Fix Forward Head Posture:

Chiropractic care can help you correct forward head posture. Your chiropractor will quickly and easily identify postural defects and will let you know if you have any. Specific exercises can be prescribed for stretching relatively short and tense muscles and for strengthening relatively weaker, lengthened muscles. A chiropractor will help you become more aware of your posture. Individualized treatments including chiropractic adjustments will help to release pressure in tight, restricted and irritated joints balancing spinal mechanics and relieving pain.

So, go see your chiropractor! Or, if you’re from Aurora or York Region, come see me!

A healthy spine = A healthy body!

Dr. Elisabeth Miron