Total Back Newsletter

Top Neck and Shoulder Stretches: Trapezius Stretch

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Leave a comment  

Here are the top neck and shoulder stretches everyone should be doing.  Neck pain can have many different causes and almost all of them included muscle tightness and muscle guarding.  Breaking up the tension in you neck and shoulders is one of the key elements to recovery.  It is important that when performing stretches in the neck that the individual does not have pain or numbness, but a mild stretching sensation in the muscles of the targeted area.  Please consult with a doctor if you have any questions about this exercise.  This week we start our series off with the Trapezius Stretch or commonly called the Trap Stretch.

upper trap stretchTrapezius Stretch

– Place the back of one hand on your lower back making sure you are keeping that sides shoulder down

– Place the other hand gently across the top of your head, while the head is looking straight forward

– Apply gentle pressure to your head pulling your head towards the hand on head side until you feel a good stretch, no pain. (Do not push down)

– Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and perform for both sides 3 times

 

FAQ:
When should I perform Trapezius Stretches?

Whenever you have limited range of motion in neck or have tightness in shoulders.  Perform at least 2-3 times daily.  If you are working at a computer workstation, perform 1 time per hour.

When should I avoid performing Trapezius Stretches?

If you experience an increase in localized pain during and prolongs after stretch, numbness, dizziness, or radiating pain during stretch, discontinue stretch and consult a doctor.

 


5 tips to set up a proper computer workstation

John Naumann Back Pain Leave a comment  

Computer workstation

Did you know that seated postures increase pressure in the spine by 50% versus standing?  This can be compounded by a slouching posture and can lead to computer workstation back pain.  Here are 5 tips to make sure that your computer workstation is set up properly:

  1. Have the right chair – The proper chair is the most important thing to providing proper postural support.  A good chair has good adjustable lumbar support, adjustable armrests and seat height adjustment. When seated your thighs should be parallel to the floor with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Set the right keyboard and mouse height – Arms should be 90 degrees at the elbow with upper arms at the side of body.
  3. Set the right monitor height – With uncorrected or standard corrected vision the monitor height should be set so when you look straight ahead you are looking 2 inches below the top of the monitor.  If you wear bifocals, position the monitor so you are looking directly at the top of the monitor.
  4. Use a telephone headset if you are on the phone 20% of the day or more –  Most people multitask when on the telephone over 20% of the workday.  This encourages people to pinch the telephone handset between head and shoulders, leading to back and neck pain.
  5. Take frequent stretch breaks – When you are sitting at a workstation your neck, shoulders, chest and forearm muscles tighten, reducing blood flow.  This leads to potential strain/sprain injuries.  It is recommended that you take a short 2 minute stretch break every 30 minutes.

If you want to know more, or have questions contact Dr. Jolley 480-633-8293.

 


Best Type of Pillow for Neck Pain

John Naumann Neck Pain, Uncategorized Comments Off on Best Type of Pillow for Neck Pain

Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck and wondered if your pillow is causing your neck pain?  Well you could be right.  Your pillow is very important in maintaining proper neck posture while you sleep.  So what are the best types of pillows for neck pain?

Pillows are very individual so it is important to find one that bests fits you.  But here are some of the best available options to meet your needs.

For side sleepers, use a pillow with a bulge/contour under the neck to help support proper spinal alignment.

  • Sleep Innovations Memory Foam Contour Pillow
  • Brookstone Biosense Shoulder Pillow
  • Leesa Reversible Hybrid Pillow
  • Classic Brands Cool Sleep Advanced Contour Cool Gel Memory Foam Pillow

 

For back sleepers, use a pillow that provides a firmer head support.  Avoid too big or too thin.

  • Classic Brands Cool Sleep
  • My Pillow Premium
  • Sahara Nights
  • Best Cervical Orthopedic
  • ISHOWStore Therapeutic & Ergonomic
  • Bamboo Pillow

 

Pillows wear out faster than mattresses, so look to replace them every one to two years.  Here is to a better night sleep with less back pain!

 

 


Reasons Your Neck Hurts

John Naumann Headaches, Neck Pain Comments Off on Reasons Your Neck Hurts

Reasons Your Neck Hurts and what to do about it

There are many reasons you neck may hurt and the treatment of neck pain is never the same for everyone. Knowing some of the common cause can help you better treat your neck pain!

  • Degenerative Disk Disease (DDD) – As you get older you will inevitably get degenerative disk disease.  Thank gravity for this one.  Your spine experiences constant compression over your life and the discs between your neck bones act as shock absorbers.  These discs begin to wear out over time and become more compressed and less pliable.  This can result in stiffness in the neck and increasing the stress on muscles and ligaments that attach in the neck.  Worst case scenarios, are when the disc degenerates to a point that it allows the nerves in that area to become “pinched”.  Typically ice and heat can help, but if it doesn’t chiropractic and physical therapy can be very helpful.  In severe cases, steriod injections or surgery might be necessary.
  • Neck Strain Injury – The neck is one of the most mobile areas of our body.  It allows for the head to rotate, flex, extend, and side to side motion.  This ability also creates a greater ability for an individual to experience a neck strain injury.  A strain is related to the muscles and ligaments that attach in the neck. A strain occurs when this muscle or ligament become extended with load over a long period of time.  We also call this a static posture.  My neck is holding a static posture while I type.  If I didn’t take an ocassional break to stretch and move my neck.  I could experience a neck injury if hadn’t just paused and moved my head around into a new position.  Make sure to change your neck posture about every 30 minutes when you are in a more strained neck posture.
  • Herniated disk – Your disk is firmer on the outside and jelly filled in the middle.  If the outer layer ruptures and can let the jelly filled interior to push out and apply pressure on a nerve and cause neck pain.  Physical therapy and chiropractic care can help treat the area and allow for the herniation to heal.  In some instances the herniation might not heal and a surgical procedure may be necessary.
  • Tension Headaches – This can be a result of neck pain.  If your muscles in your neck get tight do to static posture or stress it can result in increased pressure in the suboccipital muscles at the base of your skull.  This is most common among people that sit in front of a computer all day.  An Ergonomist can help with setting up your work station to improve your posture and decrease the tension in your neck.  Physical therapy and stretches are also a good option to help relieve your neck tension.

These are some of the most common causes of your neck pain.  Proper posture and changing your posture often can have a significant impact on reducing your potential for neck pain.


Is your bed causing your back pain?

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Is your bed causing your back pain?

bed causing your back painWith so many causes of back pain, many people forget to look at their bed as a potential source.  Considering you are spending about 1/3 of your life on one you should ask the question, is your bed causing your back pain?

So how do you evaluate if your bed is contributing to your back pain.

  1. When you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed and back relaxed?
    • Your bed should afford you a restful night sleep and your back should be relaxed.  If not, your mattress may be ill fitting and need to be changed
  2. Do you seem to toss and turn all night?
    • If you toss and turn at night, it may be your sleeping position.  Back sleeping is optimal, side sleeping is OK, and stomach sleeping should be avoided.
  3. If you share a bed, does your bed partner complain of restless sleep?
    • If both you and your partner are complaining of discomfort while sleeping, it is probably time to look for a new mattress.
  4. Do you sleep with children or pets in the bed?
    • Pets and children move around a lot and can limit the space you have on your bed.  This can result in awkward sleeping positions that contribute to back pain
  5. Is your bed over 10 years old?
    • Beds wear out over time, and you should consider replacing your mattress about ever 10 years.

If you answer yes to many of these questions, you may be wanting to change your sleeping environment.  Better sleep and bed can lead to reduced back pain.

 


Diet can reduce back pain

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain Comments Off on Diet can reduce back pain

As they say, “You are what you eat!”  What we eat can help us meet many health and fitness goals.  So you might think your diet can reduce back pain,and you would be right.  Check out these diet tips to help reduce back pain.

  1. Stay hydrated – The discs in your spine are primarily made up of water.  Well hydrated body tissues help cushion the body and help the healing process.  Make sure to drink plenty of liquids.
  2. Eat healthy proteins – Protein is an important building block to muscle repair. But not all high protein foods are the same.  Consider adding fish like, salmon or tuna, to your diet.  They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is an anti-inflammatory.  Some meats, especially processed meats, can actually create an inflammatory response.
  3. Eat “bright” vegetables – Typically vegetables with deep colors, actually have anti-inflammatory properties.  Try adding foods like, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cherries, berries, grapes and red wine, pomegranate, and watermelon to your diet.
  4. Other foods – Other good food choices for an anti-pain diet: avocados; nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts); lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey; beans; and cocoa.

Take a comprehensive approach to treating your back pain by making sure your diet supports your back pain recovery.


10 Ways to Control Chronic Back Pain

John Naumann Back Pain Leave a comment  

10 ways to control chronic back pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to help you deal with your chronic back pain

Chronic back pain can be one of the most frustrating conditions to deal with.  It affects every posture (laying, seated, standing) and every movement (especially walking and lifting).  Chronic back pain can wear you down and make you irritable and more sensitive to other stimuli and create an almost hopeless state of mind.  So managing your back pain not only do you need to address the physical but also the mental aspects of pain management.  Here are 10 tips for addressing the mental side of pain management.

  1. Positive imagery – Focus your attention on a pleasant place, like the beach, mountains, etc.
  2. Symbolic imagery – Envision a symbol that represents your chronic pain, such as a loud, irritating noise or a painfully bright light bulb. Gradually reduce the irritating qualities of this symbol, for example dim the light or reduce the volume of the noise, thereby reducing the pain.
  3. Transfer – Use your mind to produce altered sensations, such as heat, cold, anesthetic, in a non-painful hand, and then place the hand on the painful area. Envision transferring this pleasant, altered sensation into the painful area.
  4. Pain Movement – Move chronic back pain from one area of your body to another, where the pain is easier to cope with. For example, mentally move your chronic back pain slowly into your hand, or even out of your hand into the air.
  5. Dissociation – As the name implies, this chronic pain technique involves mentally separating the painful body part from the rest of the body, or imagining the body and mind as separate, with the chronic pain distant from one’s mind. For example, imagine your painful lower back sitting on a chair across the room and tell it to stay sitting there, far away from your mind.
  6. Alter your focus – This is a favorite technique for demonstrating how powerfully the mind can alter sensations in the body. Focus your attention on any specific non-painful part of the body (hand, foot, etc.) and alter sensation in that part of the body. For example, imagine your hand warming up. This will take the mind away from focusing on the source of your pain, such as your back pain.
  7. Sensory splitting – This technique involves dividing the sensation (pain, burning, pins and needles) into separate parts. For example, if back pain feels hot to you, focus just on the sensation of the heat and not on the hurting.
  8. Mental anesthesia – This involves imagining an injection of numbing anesthetic (like Novocain) into the painful area, such as imagining a numbing solution being injected into your low back. Similarly, you may then wish to imagine a soothing and cooling ice pack being placed onto the area of pain.
  9. Mental analgesia – Building on the mental anesthesia concept, this technique involves imagining an injection of a strong pain-killer, such as morphine, into the painful area. Alternatively, you can imagine your brain producing massive amount of endorphins, the natural pain relieving substance of the body, and having them flow to the painful parts of your body.
  10. Counting – Silent counting is a good way to deal with painful episodes. You might count breaths, count holes in an acoustic ceiling, count floor tiles, or simply conjure up mental images and count them.

Try some of these mental exercises, they will take practice but can help you limit the intensity of the pain you are feeling.


Treatment For A Bulging Disc

Dr. Jolley Bulging Disc, Treatment Leave a comment  

treatment bulging disc

photo via

Treatment For A Bulging Disc

In this post, you’ll learn about the definition, causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of a bulging disc. But to thoroughly understand a bulging disc, it is important to learn some basic anatomy and physiology of the spine – specifically the disc which is the area affected by the condition.

Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae. Between each vertebra are structures called intervertebral discs or spinal discs.  A spinal disc has two main parts. A fibrous exterior (annulus fibrosis) made of a several layers and a soft gel-like interior (nucleus pulposus). Each disc functions to cushion the spine, absorb shock, and maintain spacing between the vertebrae.

Now that you have a basic understanding of anatomy and physiology, let’s now talk about a bulging disc in more detail.

What Is A Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc occurs when the inner layers of the annulus fibrosis begin to deteriorate allowing the soft gel-like material inside the spinal disc to bulge out to the outer layers of the annulus fibrosis.  This is not like a herniated disc where the soft gel-like material completely leaks out of the outer material.  Imagine stepping on a balloon without popping it – that is how a bulging disc looks

What Are The Causes Of A Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc can result from several different causes. Any of the following scenarios may cause a bulging disc:

  • Spine trauma or blow

The most common situations are car accidents and sports-related injuries.

  • Repetitive Trauma
  • Most bulging discs are a result of repetitive movements done improperly over a period of time rather than one specific injury this micro trauma causes early degeneration changes in the spine and specifically the disc.
  • Aging
  • As you age your spine starts to degenerate causing the spinal disc, which functions as a cushion, to degenerate or dry out making it more susceptible to injury.

 

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bulging Disc?

A bulging disc causes no symptoms unless it leads to irritation or compression to nearby or adjacent areas which can result to localized pain. The location of pain caused by a bulging disc varies depending on the affected region of the spine.

  • Pain in the neck, upper back, shoulders, and/or arms.
  • Pain in the middle back, ribs or torso
  • Pain in the lower back, groin, hips, buttocks and/or legs

How Is It Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of a bulging disc involves a combination of the following:

  • History
  • Careful physical examination
  • MRI

 

What Is The Treatment For Bulging Disc?

Most bulging discs do not present with symptoms unless there is active inflammation in the disc. A program of progressive resistance exercises utilizing the MedX Medical Spinal Testing and Rehabilitation equipment is usually sufficient to treat a bulging disc.  Another effective treatment is non-surgical spinal decompression. At the Center for Total Back Care, we offer this procedure using the finest technology called VAX-D. VAX-D, which stands for Vertebral Axial Decompression, is a nonsurgical treatment for bulging, herniated or degenerative discs. Videos of both the MedX and VAX-D treatments can be found below.

At the Center for Total Back Care, we will assist you in returning to your normal activities of daily living in the fastest time possible. You can get back to living a pain-free life once again by scheduling a free consultation at the Center for Total Back Care today. Don’t suffer another day, call us at 480-633-8293 right now!

 

 


Healthy Holiday Tips!

John Naumann Uncategorized Comments Off on Healthy Holiday Tips!

The holiday season is upon us and so are busy schedules and poor eating habits.  Here are a few tips on how to have a healthy holiday season!

  1. Plan for holiday events that involve a lot of sweet and high calorie food
    1. Eat healthy before the holiday event so that you don’t overeat
    2. Limit sampling to bite size, not serving size
    3. Avoid high calorie drinks, go for the one for one strategy.  For every high calorie drink, follow with the same volume of water
  2. Get plenty of sleep
    1. Stick to your normal sleep schedule.  People who sleep less eat more, exercise less, and have less energy
  3. Stick to an exercise regime
    1. You may not be able to maintain your normal workout schedule but plan your exercise schedule in advance so you can keep to it.
    2. Lower your workout expectations.  If you are in a time crunch, try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for an effective shorter workout.
  4. Don’t overbook yourself
    1. Make time for yourself to decompress and relax.

Most importantly, remember the goal of the holiday season is to celebrate and enjoy friends and family.  Happy holiday’s from The Center for Total Back Care Team!


What does a stiff back mean?

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on What does a stiff back mean?

“My back feels so stiff!” We often hear our friends say.

Well, that doesn’t mean your friend’s back is actually stiff, according to a new study at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

“A conscious experience of feeling stiff does not reflect true biomechanical back stiffness,” explained Greg Kawchuk, professor and back and spine expert in the Department of Physical Therapy. “When we use the same word, stiffness, to describe a feeling and how we measure actual stiffness, we assume these words are describing the same thing. But that is not always the case.”

In the study, Kawchuk and his team asked participants how stiff their backs felt to them. After that, using a customized device, they measured just how stiff the back actually was.

“There was no relation between biomechanical stiffness and the reported feeling of stiffness,” he said. “What people describe as stiffness is something different than the measurement of stiffness.”

Tasha Stanton, lead author and senior research fellow of pain neuroscience at the University of South Australia, said that the feeling of stiffness may be a protective construct that is created by our nervous system.

“It’s our body’s way of protecting ourselves, possibly from strain, further injury or more pain,” she said.

With lower back pain being the leading cause of disability worldwide affecting approximately 632 million people, it is important to examine mechanisms associated with lower back pain and its symptoms, including stiffness.

“Words are important. The words patients use to describe a problem in the clinic may not be the same thing we as clinicians measure in the clinic,” said Kawchuk. “We need to find out what it means exactly when someone says they have a stiff back. We now know it might not mean that their back is mechanically stiff.

It could mean they feel their movements are slower and more painful.”

Materials provided by University of Alberta. Original written by Laurie Wang. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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