Neck Pain and Your Brain
Ever get neck or upper back pain and stiffness? Neck and upper back pain and stiffness are actually quite common. Human beings are now more than at any time in our history having to endure strained neck postures due to our reliance on electronic devices such as phones, tablets, notebook and desktop computers. Poor sleeping posture (i.e. stomach sleeping with the head and neck forced to one side) also causes neck strain, as do traumas such as car accidents and sports and workout injuries. Last but certainly not least is stress which causes abnormal neck and upper back muscle tightness and discomfort. And neck and upper back problems are not just for adults but happen very frequently in children too.
Neck Pain: Annoying complaint or health concern?
Some people consider neck and upper back pain and stiffness just a part of life to be endured or dealt with by taking masking drugs such as pain killers, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants. I think that most people who take this approach do so because they think of neck and upper back problems of more of an annoyance rather than a health problem. If we look at the research in this area we can see that neck and upper back problems are serious health concerns which affect the function of the body as a whole. Here’s what we know:
1. A study done in 2012 showed that people who had neck and upper back pain and stiffness associated with misaligned or locked spinal joints (subluxations) had significantly decreased blood flow to their brain. Proper blood flow to your brain is essential for healthy brain function as well as thinking, memory, concentration and creativity. Whoever wants decreased blood flow to the brain raise your hand...didn’t think so.
2. People with a history of neck pain have reduced joint position sense accuracy, according to a 2011 study. This basically means that their co-ordination is not as good as it could be, which is a real problem for athletes, workout enthusiasts or elderly persons trying to avoid a fall.
3. Hyperkyphotic neck posture (forward head and neck posture) has been shown to be associated with an increased rate of death due to heart disease.
4. Neck and upper back pain is often a sign of locked and misaligned spinal joints known as vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). VSC interferes with the function of the spinal cord and nerves which supply the body with vital messages from the brain. So neck and upper back problems by interfering with brain-body communication can cause problems with function of organs such as the heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys, bowels, bladder, uterus and ovaries. Nerve interference due to neck and upper back misalignments can also hamper the function of the immune and hormonal systems in your body, making you more susceptible to illness they you need to be.
I think you get the picture by now that neck and upper back pain is a signal from your body that there is a problem that needs addressing. You’re also probably wondering by now what you can do about this health problem. The answer is simple. Visit a chiropractor and have a spinal exam to check for the presence of vertebral subluxation complex. This could be a life-changing appointment as even people without pain or symptoms may be found to have VSC which will affect their future health and wellbeing. Once the specific problems areas are identified through a hands on exam and x-rays, a program of corrective chiropractic adjustments can be undertaken to normalize spinal alignment and nerve function which will not only help your upper back and neck pain but will also improve the health of your entire body!