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.

Are Stand-Up Desks Really Any Healthier for Office Workers?

chiropractor Wilmington NCStanding desks or stand-up desks are not a new fad. They’ve been around since at least the time of Benjamin Franklin, the founding father who used one over two hundred years ago. However, there remains a great deal of controversy regarding the benefits and drawbacks of stand-up desks.

More Energy and More Alert?

A number of sources agree that standing up while you work gives you more energy and keeps you more alert. The University of Chester performed a study in 2013 that showed heartbeats rose by ten beats per minute because of standing. This increased the number of calories burned each day. In addition, blood glucose levels after lunch returned to normal far faster in those study subjects who stood as they worked.

Reduces Back Pain?

Others have found that standing helps reduce lower back pain. Users of stand-up desks found that they engaged more fully with their colleagues and felt more ready for action if something called them away from their desk. They felt their minds wandered far less and they stayed more focused. Some users even found that stand-up desks lent themselves to certain “power poses” that benefited physiology, increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol, the stress hormone.

Getting Used to the Stand Up Desk

Stand-up desk users seemed to agree, though, that leg and foot soreness can be a problem. This may be a particular problem for individuals who are just starting to use a stand-up desk user and whose bodies aren’t yet accustomed to the new way of working. More comfortable shoes and an anti-fatigue mat can help reduce this problem. Gradually building up the amount of time spent at a stand-up desk can also help.

If you do opt for a stand-up desk, it’s important to get one at the right height. Because each person is different, getting a custom desk built can be prohibitively expensive. A better alternative is to get an adjustable desk. One with hydraulic power can be lowered for occasional sitting and increased to a custom height to suit your individual needs.

Sitting for long periods each day can lead to all manner of illnesses—heart disease, diabetes, vein disease and more. But standing for long periods can also create health risks, especially vein disease.

What to Do

A Cornell University ergonomics team found that the real solution was simply to move around regularly. If you’re sitting at a desk, stand up every 20–30 minutes and move around for two minutes. The movement gets the blood pumping, increases calorie burn, and decreases the risks for heart disease, diabetes and other ailments. This doesn’t require vigorous exercise. Simply pacing for a couple of minutes will be enough to undo the damage of sitting for half an hour. This, of course, requires an awareness of the time and a measure of discipline to move when the appointed time arrives. Adding some moderate exercise to your daily routine can do wonders for your health, even without the use of a stand-up desk.

At Southeastern Healthcare, we are here to help! Call us at 910-790-3666 to schedule your chiropractor Wilmington NC appointment now.

What Type of Massage is Best for You? Here’s What You Should Consider.

chiropractor wilmington ncOnce upon a time, people thought about massage as a luxury—a service available only to well-to-do clients at luxury spas or elite sports clubs. These days, though, you can find massage offered in the workplace, in airports, in hospitals, and in health clinics. The benefits of massage have been so well-established through research that your medical doctor or chiropractor may even refer you to a massage therapist as an integral part of their overall treatment plans. Massage has been found to be beneficial for treating anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, digestive disorders, insomnia related to stress and a wide range of soft tissue injuries, including those caused by auto, work and sports accidents. And that’s a conservative list. Besides, massage feels good. So what do you need to know about massage before having one?

Some Basic Facts About Massage

Massage is a very general term for rubbing, pressing, kneading, and manipulating your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin for health-related reasons. Many massage therapists use only their hands and fingers for massage, but others may perform specialized forms of massage that use their forearms, elbows, or even their feet. The force used during the massage can vary from light stroking to deep pressure. There are many styles of massage, including:

  • Swedish Massage – This gentle form of massage uses long strokes and kneading, deep circular movements, tapping, and vibration to relax and energize the patient. It is an effective way to relax after a long, stressful week, but research indicates it has health value as well because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol and improves your immune system performance.
  • Deep Tissue Massage – This massage type is considered best for relieving deep knots in the muscles and freeing up trapped tissue structures that may be restricting movement, so if you’re looking for a calm, relaxing massage, this type should probably not be your first choice. The masseur applies deep pressure to dig deep into muscles to release trigger points and improve mobility.
  • Sports Massage – Masseurs who specialize in sports massage can help you heal from sports-related injuries or actually improve your sports performance.
  • Trigger Point Massage – This form of massage focuses on identifying and releasing areas of tightly bound muscle fibers that can form in your body after injury or overexertion.
  • Shiatsu Massage – This type of massage comes from Japan, where the title means “finger pressure.” True to its name, practitioners of this type of massage barely touch the patient, applying gentle pressure to areas considered pressure points or “tsubo,” with the goal of promoting natural healing and improving energy flow.

There are many other specialized types of massage, of course, but the above list covers most general types. As for what you should look for in a massage therapist, the magic words are qualifications and communication. The process for licensing, registering, or certifying massage therapists varies from city to city and state to state, but your prospective massage therapist should be proud to tell you about their training, credentials and experience. Similarly, they should be forthcoming about their approach and willing to offer references from other patients or clients.

Naturally, any massage therapist you are considering should also welcome practical questions such as “How many sessions do you think I will need?” and “How much will it cost, and is it covered by my health insurance?” One of the best ways to find a good massage therapist is to ask your chiropractor. Doctors of chiropractic often work in conjunction with highly-qualified massage therapists, and thus can refer you to professionals whose work they trust.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care in the Workplace: What Managers Should Know

It can be really tough owning or managing a business. Not only do you have to worry about making a profit, you also have to look after the welfare of your most important resource, your employees. Your business, after all, is dependent on them being healthy enough to come to work, and to work productively while they’re there. So most businesses these days view their employee healthcare costs as an investment, a way of keeping the company healthy by keeping employees healthy. The challenge for managers is how to keep these healthcare costs as low as possible.

With this in mind, the findings of a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine are encouraging, because they suggest that one way to enhance your employees’ wellness while reducing costs is to offer on-site chiropractic care.

How on-site chiropractic care lowered several companies’ health care costs

In the study, conducted between 2010 and 2012, the cost of care was tracked for 1,635 employees who received chiropractic care. About half of the employees received their care from off-site providers, while the other half received treatment from chiropractic offices established on-site, in the workplace itself. The company was willing to make this investment in chiropractic care because it has been shown to deliver effective treatment for musculoskeletal conditions, which are the primary cause of disability in the workplace.

The researchers found that, while both groups of workers received chiropractic care, the on-site group required fewer visits than the group traveling to off-site chiropractors. The on-site group also required fewer expensive diagnostic imaging tests (38% on-site vs. 56% off-site) and X-rays (27% on-site vs. 46% off-site). The off-site group required more office visits for treatment and physical therapy than the on-site group, and they also logged more visits to the emergency room. As a result, the study authors reported that chiropractic care “demonstrated significant improvements in headache, neck pain, and low back pain functional status in patients utilizing on-site services over a short time frame while still showing lower utilization and cost outcomes than community-based care,” and that “This study demonstrates that users of on-site chiropractic services have lower health care utilization than those who obtain their care at off-site community care centers.”

In a similar study at Anheuser-Busch brewing company in Peoria, IL, on-site chiropractic care provided in workplace wellness centers significantly improved care for workers who spend most of their time moving heavy cases and kegs of beer. Study authors reported that “In the two years since it was implemented, the number of employee sick days has declined by 22 percent, while the accident rate has been cut in half. Consequently, the company’s workers’ compensation costs have experienced a dramatic reduction, with premiums declining by more than 25 percent.”

These and other studies make a clear case for the establishment of on-site chiropractic clinics in workplaces because it provides employees more convenient access to safe, effective care for musculoskeletal conditions. Since it reduces employees’ pain and disability, it improves both their productivity and their job satisfaction. Plus it leads to lower overall healthcare costs for the company in the long run. In short, providing on-site chiropractic services has been found to benefit the workforce as well as employers in a variety of important ways—it’s a “win-win” investment for companies looking to improve productivity and reduce expenses.

Are Drivers of Small Cars Really at Greater Risk in Auto Accidents?

auto accident chiropractorThere’s a lot to consider when picking out a new car, but fuel efficiency and safety are two of the most commonly considered factors. Small cars are usually much more fuel efficient, but recent scrutiny suggests that they might not be as safe as larger vehicles. Read on to get the facts behind small vehicle safety.

Are Smaller Cars Less Safe Than Larger Cars?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a car’s size and weight both impact its safety during a crash. Bigger, heavier cars tend to offer more protection to their occupants. Large cars tend to have a longer distance between the front of the vehicle and the driver’s seat. This distance gives the car a bigger “crush zone,” which lowers the amount of force transmitted to the driver and passengers in a front-end crash. Heavier cars also tend to push lighter vehicles backwards, further reducing the amount of force.

When tested, small cars tend to receive good safety ratings against other small cars, but tend to test poorly against midsize or large cars. SUVs and pickup trucks are particularly dangerous as small cars run the risk of under-riding them. Conversely, drivers or larger, heavier vehicles are less likely to experience deadly injury than drivers of small cars.

IIHS data also suggests that drivers of small cars tend to suffer from more serious injuries than drivers of large cars. While more stringent safety standards have dramatically reduced the number of injuries and deaths due to traffic accidents over the past few decades, the simple fact is that small car drivers are more likely to suffer from concussions, whiplash, back and neck injuries, and fractures.

Recovering From a Car Accident

If you are thinking of purchasing a new car, this information might be enough to sway your decision. However, cars of all sizes can and do become involved in accidents that cause serious injuries. If you’re in a car accident, it is important to seek medical assistance immediately. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, making a medical professional’s guidance particularly important.

The sudden, jarring movements that result from a car collision can lead to lingering pain and disability. Working with a chiropractor promptly after an accident can help to ensure that these impacts are short-lived. Your chiropractor will work to identify any stretched ligaments or tears as well as ensure that your spine is in correct alignment. This is particularly important in the case of whiplash, which can cause severe pain as well as blurred vision, dizziness, neck stiffness, headaches, low back pain, and a reduced range of motion in the neck.

Remember—drivers of smaller cars are at a greater risk of injury in an auto accident than drivers of bigger cars. However, there are several smart things you can do to reduce your overall risk no matter what kind of car you happen to drive. Develop strong defensive driving habits, make good use of all your vehicle’s safety features and be sure to visit your chiropractor promptly if you are involved in a collision. Chiropractic physicians are experts at diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal problems, including those related to auto accidents. Our goal is to help you recover as quickly and completely as possible!

Why do People Seek out a Chiropractor?

Today, a growing number of people are seeking a chiropractor in addition to—or even in place of—a traditional medical doctor. As chiropractic care continues to grow in popularity as a non-invasive treatment for a broad range of illnesses and injuries, it is also proving to be the choice of many who want to take steps now to enhance their health and to prevent the future onset of disease.

The Demand for Chiropractic Care

Not only is chiropractic care becoming increasingly accepted as an effective method of treatment for a number of medical conditions, the consumer demand for more expansive chiropractic treatments is growing. While it’s not surprising that an increasing number of people are looking to chiropractic care for musculoskeletal conditions, there are still many who do not realize the impact that chiropractic care can have on overall health and well-being. Chiropractic care has been shown to be highly effective for relieving pain and restoring function, but it can do so much more!

The Focus on Holistic Care and Wellness for the Future

In many instances, people seek out chiropractors as part of their larger healthcare team, often to enhance medical treatments they are receiving or to provide a more holistic approach. Within today’s universe of complementary and alternative medicine, chiropractic is the type of non-allopathic healthcare service chosen most often by patients. Changes to health insurance that expand coverage for chiropractic services have also helped make these services more accessible to larger numbers of people.

The fact that chiropractic physicians work closely with their patients to build healthy lifestyle habits—principally in the areas of exercise, nutrition, sleep and stress management—appeals to a large segment of the population that has grown skeptical of “sickness care” and is interested in taking a more active role in their own health and well-being. And this trend is clear outside the U.S. as well. A recent survey of Australian chiropractic patients cited by researchers in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics highlights just one of the important reasons people choose chiropractic care in the first place. Of 486 patients receiving care at 96 clinics, 92% EITHER AGREED OR STRONGLY AGREED that chiropractic care helped them take more responsibility for their own health.

In terms of the specific health and wellness goals that motivated surveyed patients to seek out a chiropractor, most were related to musculoskeletal issues (69%) or general health (21%). A relatively small minority visited their chiropractor about headaches or non-musculoskeletal conditions.

The Growing Attraction of Chiropractic Care

Today patients visit their chiropractic physicians for a wider variety of reasons than they did in the past, including:

  • Digestive Problems
  • Allergies
  • Migraines
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Sleep Issues

In addition to being safe and effective, chiropractic care appeals to patients who want to avoid the risks that come with drugs and surgery. The Australian survey results suggest they see chiropractic as a sound investment in conservative treatment as well as prevention. Interestingly, about two-thirds of chiropractic patients view chiropractic as a first choice (65%) rather than as a last resort (12%) for their complaint, and 96% either strongly agree or agree that chiropractic care helps with general health and well-being. Plus, 98% would seek chiropractic services again and were satisfied with the treatment they had received.

So if you’re wondering whether chiropractic care might be right for you, we encourage you to call or visit our office today. We’ll be happy to discuss your situation with you and explain our approach. Come learn why so many others trust us with their health and well-being!

Which Sports Pose the Greatest Risk of Back and Neck Injuries?

back painParticipating in sports is fun. Sports provide healthy exercise, comradeship, a sense of competition, and the opportunity to build and improve athletic skills. However, all sports also involve some risk of injury. In 2006, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported over half a million injuries, and that figure is only for basketball. The same agency recorded another two million sports injuries associated with bicycling, football, and other sports. And it’s not just adults who risk injury—the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics report that 3.5 million kids age 14 and younger are injured every year playing sports.

It’s important to keep numbers like these in perspective. The truth is that most of these injuries are relatively minor. “Pulled muscles,” meaning muscles and tendons damaged as the result of not warming up and stretching properly, are probably the most common type of injury, but they are not consistently reported to doctors, so no accurate statistics exist on their prevalence. The most prevalent sports-related injuries reported—in order from most common to least—are runner’s knee (55%), shoulder injuries (20%) sprained ankles (15%), and tennis or golf elbow (7%).

Serious Injuries

Next in line come a number of potentially more serious injuries involving the neck, back and spinal cord. These injuries often fit the description of “catastrophic” injuries used by sports physicians, and their number is sadly on the rise. To provide more information for sports enthusiasts hoping to minimize their likelihood of injury (not to mention parents worried about their children becoming injured), we’ve identified a few sports that cause the most neck, back and spinal cord injuries.

Sports that Cause Injuries

Naturally, any kind of “contact sport” (like football, ice hockey, and rugby) involves a higher risk of injury to the muscles, tendons, joints, and bones of the neck and back. Any time a body moving at several miles an hour runs into another one, the laws of physics dictate that there is a certain likelihood of damage, and that the damage may be serious. Even when wearing proper protective equipment (including helmets and pads), there is always a possibility of injury involved in playing these sports.

Interestingly, however, neck strain and injuries are prevalent even among practitioners of non-contact sports. For example, tennis players often put stress on their necks while straining upwards to hit overhead smashes. And cyclists who use racing handlebars and bend low over them put severe repetitive strain on their necks, because they literally have to tilt their head up into an over-extended position to see where they’re going.

Any sport (or strength-training exercise to prepare for participating in a sport) that involves lifting weights increases your risk of injuring your back and spinal cord. Most weight-lifting-related injuries are caused by either not warming up properly, by attempting to lift too much weight, or both. These types of injuries are common not only among weightlifters, but also among martial artists, tennis players and golfers, because these athletes tend to rotate their spines only in one direction. Skiers and swimmers also have a greater number of lower back injuries than other athletes. Even running can cause chronic back pain, because running improperly or with the wrong type of footwear can cause arch pain or Achilles tendonitis, which then throws the athlete’s posture off and can put strain on the back and neck even when they are no longer running.

Which Sport is the “Safest”?

So the “bottom line” is that no sport is entirely “safe” in the sense that it is completely free from the possibility of injury. There have even been cases of people spraining their thumbs from playing tiddley-winks. But if you practice “safe sports” by always warming up and stretching properly, wearing the proper equipment, knowing your limits and not exceeding them, you can avoid many potential injuries.

Contact Us at Southeastern Healthcare Today!

If you become injured—or even if you just want advice about how to avoid injury—your chiropractor can be a very valuable resource. Many chiropractors specialize in the field of sports medicine. They can measure your gait while walking or running, or watch how your body moves when performing the movements required by a certain sport, and offer advice on both how to make your movements more efficient and how to avoid injury while making them. Call or visit our office to learn more!