Too many times with neck injuries, people are told that nothing is wrong and the pain and stiffness will eventually go away on its own. Well, even if it does go away on its own – this does not mean that the injury to the neck has been resolved.
The other thing is that often neck injuries are not treated properly from the onset which can lead to a multitude of health problems for the patient; some of which can have a lasting and debilitating (partially or fully) effect.
You see, the neck is the most susceptible part of the spine when it comes to trauma or injury.
Most people know that neck injuries can result in partial or full paralysis and even death.
But there can be a lot of serious damage to ones neck with far less serious traumas or injuries. Understand that one’s head (skull) weighs about 12 pounds on average and sits atop seven vertebrae called the cervical spine.
These seven vertebrae are what make up the neck part of your spine and are the smallest vertebrae when comparing in size to the 12 thoracic vertebrae (mid-back) and the five lumbar vertebrae (lower back).
So, already the neck is compromised because of the weight on the top end and the fact that this weight sits upon the slightest part of the spine.
Most every type of neck injury will involve some type of violent movement and motion of the head, and because of its weight this can move the neck into positions that are abnormal and/or extreme. This is when neck injuries will definitely occur.
The most common way is from suffering a whiplash injury either from a fall, a car accident, or a sports injury.
To understand more about the dangers of whiplash, I encourage you to read the post found on this website that discusses whiplash injuries exclusively.
But many other less apparent things can cause neck injuries which are more dangerous in my view, because they may seem so inconsequential to most people.
Here are some of the ways that people sustain neck injuries without realizing it:
Sleeping posture: It is very important that you sleep either on your side or your back. The spine is not designed to lie on its front for extended periods. In other words, stomach sleeping is not advisable whether you are an adult, or child, or infant. Because you cannot bury your face into a pillow or mattress and breathe, you have to turn your head to either side so you can breathe and this will certainly kink and injure the neck. Stomach sleeping is also not good for your lower back and can cause low-back pain and stiffness upon awakening.
Pillows: It is very important to use a contour pillow to help maintain the very important posture (curve) in your neck while you sleep. Not a mountain of pillows, just one pillow of the right firmness for you specifically, is all you need. Your chiropractor will help you find the exact right pillow. And with the right pillow, you will be able to stay off of your stomach and sleep comfortably on your side or your back and this may also help remedy snoring and/or sleep apnea.
Mattress: Again, very important. Too hard or too soft or not firm enough or not soft enough – none of these will allow you to sleep comfortably. When you toss and turn all night this can result in a sprain and strain injury to your neck. Couches are not meant to be slept on for extended periods (ie, used as beds) and with the right mattress you should be able to sleep for 6-8 hours and get up feeling refreshed and not sore or stiff. If you are getting up with headaches and/or neck stiffness, this is a sign that you are injuring your neck during sleep from either using the wrong pillow, mattress, sleeping posture or a combination of any of these. Again, your chiropractor will help you determine what kind of mattress is best for you.
Your job: Depending upon what you do, you could be injuring your neck through repetitive strain type injuries. Some examples are; work where you are looking up constantly and/or with arms extended above the head. This is common to many construction workers or people who work with trees. Working in awkward positions where the head and neck are kinked due to the nature of the work space are never good for one’s neck. Construction workers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, heating and air technicians, computer repair and service technicians; often injure their necks due to the physical demands that are constantly put on their necks. Sitting at a desk working at a computer is one the most common ways for people to injure their neck in today’s day and age. Extended hours at the computer, an improper chair, poor ergonomics regarding work station design and poor vision can all contribute to a repetitive strain injury of the neck.
Children: Believe it or not, your first neck injury will usually happen during the process of your own birth. Remember that the head and neck are used as an instrument to pull the rest of the body down and out of the birth canal. This can cause a neck injury even when the birth process is uncomplicated but surely will if there are complications. Breech births, base-posterior (upside down) births, vacuum-assisted births, and forceps-assisted births will all put the newborn’s neck at risk. For these reasons, I stress that all new parents have their babies checked for possible neck injuries as soon as possible afterwards. If there is a problem, it can easily be corrected and prevent future problems from occurring. Maintaining good spinal health is so important right from the onset.
Several things can happen but the most dangerous is misalignment of one or more of the vertebrae in the neck.
These are termed subluxations and can cause pressure on the spinal cord, pressure on the nerve roots, poor alignment of the spine in the neck, spinal arthritis and degenerative joint disease.
None of these are good for you and will cause you far more serious problems than a sore and stiff neck.
Neck injuries can also result in sprains and strains of the surrounding soft-tissues; these being the muscles, ligaments and tendons that support the head and hold the spinal vertebrae together.
If sprains and strains are not treated properly, scar tissue will form and these tissues will never feel or function the same way again.
Most people equate neck injuries with a sore and stiff neck with or without headaches.
Some people hope that it will go away on its own.
Other people will attempt to mask the symptoms or treat the injury with painkillers, muscle-relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs.
These are by far your worst choices because nothing ever completely goes away on its own, and the side-effects from drugs and medications are often worse than the symptoms they are attempting to mask.
Massage and physical therapies are better choices but your best recommended treatment by far is chiropractic care.
Chiropractic will restore proper form and function of the spinal vertebrae in the neck.
This will reduce spinal cord pressure, nerve root pressure, and promote healing of the spinal joints and discs; as well as the surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons.
No other form of treatment can or will do this for you and this is what you absolutely need if you have suffered a neck injury whether acute or chronic.
So if you have suffered a neck injury(s) and you are still suffering, please call our office right away to make an appointment for a free initial consultation.
You will have an opportunity to discuss with me all of your concerns and I will tell you in more detail how chiropractic can help. There is no need to suffer – please call us today!