iPosture? Is Technology Causing Neck and Shoulder Pain?

neck painWhether you’re an Apple fan, an Android lover or a hardcore Microsoft user, there’s no denying the popularity of tablet computers. The numbers speak for themselves—technology market analysts estimate that over 200 million of them are sold in the US each year. Even if you don’t follow the latest tech trends, you know that mobile devices—principally phones and tablets—are a regular feature around town. From coffee shops and supermarkets to airports and train platforms, they seem to be everywhere. Plus a growing number of businesses are beginning to equip their sales and service staff as well as their executive teams with them. They’re even finding their way into hospitals and doctor’s offices!

Are Tablets Causing Neck Pain?

But while tablets certainly have their benefits, new research suggests that they also have their drawbacks when it comes to musculoskeletal health. It has already been shown that frequent texting on your mobile phone can cause problems with neck pain (the so-called “text neck” epidemic), but those who use their tablet for everything from work-related applications to just surfing the internet and watching full-length movies may be in for even more pain. The anecdotal evidence is already starting to show up in the waiting rooms of chiropractic offices around the country, and researchers at leading universities are beginning to seriously study the ergonomics and health risks of tablet use.

How to Prevent Neck Pain?

The results of a study published in Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation found that the use of tablet computers was associated with greater head and neck flexion than traditional desktop computers and that placing the tablet higher on a table and using a case to put the tablet at a more optimal angle could help prevent neck and shoulder problems.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Microsoft Corporation studied 15 volunteers who were regular users of tablet computers. The subjects performed simulated tasks on an Apple iPad2 and a Motorola Xoom, during which the posture of the head and neck, the subjects’ gaze angle and gaze distance were measured by a three-dimensional infrared motion analysis system. They surfed the internet, wrote e-mails, watched movies and played video games.

Each tablet came with its own proprietary case that enabled users to set the tablet at different angles. The Apple case allowed for 15° and 73° tilt angles, while the Motorola case allowed angles of 45° and 63°. Greater flexion of the neck was found with the iPad2 when used in its case. Not surprisingly, tablets set at the least perpendicular angle caused greater neck and head flexion than when the subjects used a desktop or laptop computer. Head and neck posture only began to approach a neutral position when the tablets were set in their cases at the Table-Movie angle at which they were closest to perpendicular.

What is Recommended?

The researchers recommended that tablet users place the devices on a table and at the steepest viewing angle possible to avoid neck and shoulder pain. However, they cautioned that this configuration might cause problems for the arms and wrists, which in this configuration are not optimally placed for input. This of course can lead to its own set of musculoskeletal problems in the extremities. So the simple fact of the matter is that tablet ergonomics involve some tough compromises or trade offs for users. A position that’s ideal for viewing is troublesome for typing and gestures and vice-versa.

For many people, tablet computers have become an indispensable part of work and home life (for better or for worse). If you’re one of these people and can’t conceive of either giving up your iPad or reducing the number of hours you spend using it, then it’s very important to develop good ergonomic habits that minimize musculoskeletal stress and have the smallest impact on your posture. You should also consider seeing your chiropractor on a regular basis. Chiropractic care has been shown to be more effective in treating neck and shoulder pain than using pain medication. A chiropractic adjustment can realign neck vertebrae and take the pressure off compressed nerves, bringing relief in a gentle, natural manner and allowing you to use your tablet more comfortably. In addition to addressing the problems you already have, your chiropractor will also be able to offer specific ergonomic advice to help prevent them from recurring or becoming chronic.

We Can Help Relieve Your Neck Pain at Southeastern Healthcare

We’re here to help! Whether you have specific concerns about a musculoskeletal problem or more general health and wellness questions, we encourage you to call Southeastern Healthcare today at 910-790-3666 to schedule an appointment with our experienced and caring chiropractor Wilmington NC. We are here for you. With six locations throughout the Wilmington area, we have an office conveniently close to you.

Chiropractic for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), named from the carpal bones in the wrist that form a tunnel around the nerve leading to the hand, is an injury usually caused by repetitive and forceful movements that result in swelling around the tendons and pinching of the median nerve, causing painful tingling, lack of muscle strength and control in the hand, and pain shooting from the hand up to the shoulder. CTS is a risk to most workers, such as those who work on the computer and also store and assembly line workers, who receive micro-traumas to their hands and wrists on a daily basis due to awkward positioning, forceful and repetitive movements, and stressful activity.

The usual treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can extend to heavy medication and surgery, however there are alternative methods of treatment that can alleviate the symptoms and effects arising from CTS. Chiropractic treatment for CTS has been studied against conventional non-surgical medical treatment and was found to be effective. This offers an alternative to sufferers who are intolerant to ibuprofen, or those who simply wish to avoid treating with medication.

The median nerve in the wrist, which when trapped causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, connects to the spinal cord through the openings in the bones in the areas around the lower neck. If these bones in the spinal cord lose their ordinary position or motion, this can cause problems in the wrists or fingers. Through chiropractic treatment, these bones can be reset to the correct position and can help to treat CTS.

If Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is detected early, then surgery can be avoided, and chiropractic treatment is the leading method of non-surgical treatment. Chiropractic treatment usually involves various methods, with a combination of rest, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation, including:

  • By chiropractic manipulation therapy of the elbow and upper spine, where the joint’s soft tissue undergoes manipulation;
  • Nutritional supplements in the diet such as B6, a vitamin that has had long-term promotion in its treatment of CTS;
  • Electro-acupuncture treatment; bracing, a technique that has had extensive success, by limiting extension and flexion in the hand, and with compression on the median nerve may encourage recovery and ease the swelling in the tendons;
  • Exercises for the wrist and hand designed to encourage recovery;
  • Reassessing the ergonomics of the work place to minimize stress the best way as possible.

Recent studies concluded that using manual therapy intervention such as soft tissue mobilization (STM) has been found to help improve the signs and symptoms of CTS, with improvements to nerve conduction latencies, wrist strength and motion.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can become a serious health problem, and if left too long may require surgery. If it’s caught early, then chiropractic treatment is an effective, drug-free method to ease the symptoms and pains caused by CTS, and provide long-term relief from CTS.

Every body is different. If you have questions about this article or whether chiropractic is an appropriate choice for your specific situation, please ask.

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910) 796-3666

Choosing the Right Lumbar Support

Lumbar back support products are designed to help prevent neck and back pain, which can lead to pain in other parts of the body as well. Many of these products are pillows or cushions that offer additional support when you are seated for long periods of time.

The lumbar region of the spine is usually referred to as the lower back. It is the area just above your tailbone and below the thoracic (middle back) region. The lumbar area includes your spine and all the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding your spine. If your ligaments are pulled or torn, you will experience a lumbar sprain or strain, which can lead to muscle spasms and significant pain in your lower back.

What can cause lumbar sprains and strains? Poor posture, poor lifting technique, obesity, and other health-related factors can contribute. In fact, sitting for long periods without lumbar support can itself aggravate lumbar pain. Finally, one of the greatest contributors to back pain is using the wrong type of chair for your body. Surfaces that are too hard or too soft do not encourage proper posture and do not provide adequate support for your back.

Usually all that is required to relieve lower back pain is sufficient rest, but most of us are unable to rest for long enough to overcome lumbar problems. So preventing these problems with a good lumbar support is essential, especially if you spend significant amounts of time sitting down.

The first step to choosing the right lumbar support is to ensure that it fits perfectly in the chair you spend the most time in. An even better option is to choose an ergonomically designed chair that includes a built-in lumbar support, or an individual lumbar support that is specifically designed to be used with your chair. “One size fits all” lumbar support products rarely provide any benefits and should be avoided.

Make sure you test the product in the store before you buy it. If you can, sit with the lumbar support for at least 15 minutes to see if it feels good or aggravates back pain. The best lumbar supports are adjustable, so you can fit it to the chair’s height. Ergonomic chairs with lumbar supports included usually allow you to adjust the height and width of the support. Adjustable separate supports are particularly useful if you use more than one chair throughout the day.

Good health is a combination of many factors including your nutrition, preventative care, appropriate corrective care and the small choices you make every day in the course of living. If you have questions about this article, your general or spinal health, please ask. At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at (910)796-3666

Chiropractic for Chronic Back Pain

 

About a third of the millions of people who make appointments with chiropractors every year seek relief from back pain. Back pain can be acute, meaning it happens suddenly, lasts 6 weeks or less and often clears up on its own; or back pain can be chronic, meaning it comes on gradually and lasts 3 months or more. Chronic back pain can be particularly debilitating and can limit movement and mobility.

Traditional treatments for back pain include medication, physical therapy, surgery or steroid injections. While these treatments may provide symptomatic relief, they do not address the root cause of the pain. They can also be painful and expensive to carry out.

The foundation of chiropractic care for chronic back pain is the understanding that misaligned vertebrae can cause the pain. This misalignment can result in many additional problems, such as headaches, body pains and impaired joint mobility. Chiropractic treatment aims to restore alignment to the vertebrae, returning natural health to the spine and all the body parts the spinal nerves serve.

Chiropractors believe in the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Chiropractic care avoids medications and their possible side effects, and it also avoids surgery. As an example of the differences in treatment, surgeons may remove a herniated disk from the spine in order to relieve pressure on the nerves, while chiropractors use non-invasive spinal manipulation to achieve the same result.

Your chiropractor will treat your chronic pain based on the vertebral misalignments found in your body. A quick, sudden force is applied to the appropriate vertebrae in order to restore the motion of the joint. Another common treatment for chronic pain is known as the flexion-distraction technique. This treatment involves a special table that stretches the spine. It is particularly effective in treating injuries to the discs that have been the cause of long-term back pain.
Chronic back pain will probably also require additional treatments such as massage, exercise, and perhaps physical therapy. A good chiropractor will work with other health professionals as needed to ensure you get the best possible treatment for your pain. He or she will also look at the entire picture of your life, including your diet, health habits, medical history, family history, and other conditions you may have. This approach is holistic and has a better chance of eliminating the root cause of your chronic back pain than traditional treatments that only work on the symptoms.

Every body is different. If you have questions about this article or whether chiropractic is an appropriate choice for your specific situation, please ask. We are here to help!

Call Southeastern Healthcare today at 910-790-3666 and schedule your appointment!

Therapy Methods – Spinal Decompression Therapy

 

Spinal decompression therapy is a treatment option for people with long-term back pain, sciatica, leg pain, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, numbness and other conditions that have not responded to initial treatments such as manipulation and physical therapy. All of these conditions may be the result of compressive forces on your vertebrae, which can cause spinal misalignment and compressed discs.

Compressed discs can lead to herniation or bulging of the discs, thus pressure on the nerves. In addition to the pressure and compression, the nerve itself may not be able to receive the nutrients it needs to heal and work properly.  Often, surgery is used to decompress the spine, which is invasive, painful, and carries significant risks. Medications to reduce pain are also often used, but they do not treat the source of the pain and only mask it.

Spinal decompression therapy is a non-invasive, non-surgical alternative that offers gentle spinal decompression through the use of specially designed, FDA-approved equipment. Prior to treatment, patients are thoroughly examined both manually and through the use of imaging technology in order to determine which spinal discs are compressed, and if the treatment is suitable and has a high likelihood of success.

Patients are placed on a decompression table in a comfortable posture that depends on which area of the back needs treatment.  The treatment applies a specific force to the compressed discs, and a computer alternates the decompression force with relaxation periods. Usually, there is a series of 15 one-minute alternating decompression and relaxation cycles, for an individual treatment time of 30 minutes. This process serves to gently elongate the spine and to create a vacuum that pulls the disc back into its proper location and shape within the vertebrae. Realigning the discs in this manner can reduce pain and promote healing. However, it may take up to 20 treatments for complete relief.

Not everyone is a good candidate for spinal decompression therapy. Research has shown it to be very effective for some patients but not for others, and it is not entirely clear which people it will work best on. Therefore, it is important to work carefully with your chiropractor to be sure you have a good chance of successful treatment. Your chiropractor may precede each treatment with soft tissue muscle work to reduce the body’s natural reflex reaction and prepare the muscles for the traction forces. He or she will also work with other health professionals as needed to determine the precise nature of your back pain and the type of treatments that are most likely to resolve your pain at its source.

Call Southeastern Healthcare today at 910-790-3666 and schedule your Free Consultation!

What is Spinal Manipulation?

The most common therapeutic procedure performed by doctors of chiropractic is known as “spinal manipulation”, also called “chiropractic adjustment.” The purpose of manipulation is to restore joint mobility by manually applying a controlled force into joints that have become hypomobile (or restricted in their movement) as a result of a tissue injury. Tissue injury can be caused by a single traumatic event, such as improper lifting of a heavy object, or through repetitive stresses, such as sitting in an awkward position with poor spinal posture for an extended period of time. In either case, injured tissues undergo physical and chemical changes that can cause inflammation, pain, and diminished function for the sufferer. Manipulation or adjustment of the affected joint and tissues restores mobility which alleviates pain and muscle tightness, allowing tissues to heal.

In many cases, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care may be the primary method of treatment. When other medical conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the musculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition.

The Chiropractor will plan the TREAT and INVOLVE the Patient

The Chiropractor will involve the participation of the patient in order to make the treatments truly effective and long lasting. Treatments that focus on pain and other symptoms are less effective and may be dangerous because the underlying condition remains.

In planning a course of treatment, the Chiropractor will consider the condition and age of the spine as well as any existing abnormalities. Once these factors are taken into consideration the Chiropractor will, through the use of gentle adjusting techniques, physical therapies, stretching and exercise, reduce spinal pain. Spinal stresses are decreased, and flexibility and range of motion are improved. Degeneration is minimized.

The Chiropractor will involve the participation of the patient in order to make the treatments truly effective and long lasting. Treatments that focus on pain and other symptoms are less effective and may be dangerous because the underlying condition remains.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care can be of significant value to the aging adult. As we age, the tissues of the spine become weaker. Muscles, facet joints, ligaments, muscles become less hydrated, more fibrotic, and less capable of withstanding everyday stress.

Accidents, falls, stress, tension, overexertion and countless other factors can result in a displacement or derangements of the spinal column, causing irritation to the spinal nerve roots. These irritations are often what cause malfunctions in the human body. Chiropractic care teaches that reducing or eliminating this irritation can cause your body to operate more efficiently and with greater comfort. Chiropractic also places an emphasis on a nutritional and exercise program, as well as wellness and lifestyle modifications for promoting physical health.

Doctors of chiropractic may assess patients through clinical examination, laboratory testing, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic interventions to determine when chiropractic treatment is appropriate or when it is not appropriate. Chiropractors will readily refer patients to the appropriate health care provider when chiropractic care is not suitable for the patient’s condition, or the condition warrants co-management in conjunction with other members of the health care team.

Call Southeastern Healthcare today at 910-790-3666 and schedule your Free Consultation!