Neck and upper back problems
A headache is purely a symptom, a warning that the body sends. It is a signal that there is a problem somewhere that needs to be dealt with. Headaches are a common complaint among both young and old. There are different types of headache, the most common of which is caused by tension. While the symptoms of tension headaches may not be identical in every patient, there are similarities. For example, pain on both sides of the head. It is a dull, pressure pain and feels as if a tight band is tied around the head. Despite the fact that tension headaches are usually caused by stress, chiropractors can help sufferers. This is because stress often causes heightened tension on the muscles in the neck. This reduces the mobility of the vertebrae in the neck and upper back, irritating the nerves in the area. The nerve irritation stemming from the neck often contributes to tension headaches. Headaches can also be caused by localized pressure on the neck. The localized pressure may be caused by any number of incidents such as poor posture, an accident, a fall or many other reasons.
Migraine is another type of headache. Patients who suffer from migraine are often over-sensitive to light and noise. Patients often feel nauseous during attacks, and often vomit. Migraine is sometimes associated with certain foodstuffs, medicines or alcohol. Common examples are wine, chocolate and cheese. The cause of migraine is probably linked to a change in the diameter of the blood vessels in the brain. A narrowing of the brain arteries is followed by a widening of the arteries, and this leads to the pain during a migraine attack. The nerves that are responsible for the brain arteries come from the upper back and neck and run to the brain. Any blockage in the vertebrae of the neck and upper back can over stimulate the nervous system. By adjusting the blockages in the vertebrae in the neck and upper back, the chiropractor can reduce the pain caused by the migraine.
Neck problems are very common and have a number of causes. These can be divided into gradual and sudden causes.
Gradual causes include:
- too little change of position and too little movement (working position!)
- wrong or one sided pressure (heavy bag on one shoulder or a wrong position in front of the computer)
- wearing out (osteoarthritis) of the neck vertebrae
- tension, stress, fatigue, cold and damp.
Sudden causes include:
- an accident which, in serious cases, can led to whiplash
- bad position during sleep, for example sleeping on the stomach, which can lead to acute torticollis whereby the patient can only comfortably hold his/her head to one side.
Nerves run from the neck to the arm. A blockage in the neck can cause inflammation of these nerves and result in a range of complaints such as a stiff neck, a nagging burning pain just below the skull or at the level of the neck-shoulder, or shooting pains towards the shoulders and arms. A blockage in the vertebrae of the neck can also be a contributing cause of tennis elbow, golfer’s arm and carpal tunnel syndrome. The cause of tingling in the fingers or a feeling of powerlessness in the arm can lie in the neck. Other problems resulting from functional disorders in the neck include headache, difficulty seeing, reduced concentration, tinnitus, dizziness, learning problems, and sinus problems.
Chiropractors are trained to treat these problems. They are often able to relieve pain in a short space of time by clearing the functionality problems of the neck. By doing this, the irritant to the nerve is removed and the pain, the tingling, the stiffness and other symptoms disappear.
Whiplash is caused by a short sudden movement of the neck and head, as sometimes occurs in traffic accidents or a fall. The movement can be back to front, front to back, or sideways. It can damage the vertebrae and the soft parts of the neck such as the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The damage is often not visible on X-rays.
While whiplash is often associated with traffic accidents, it can also be the result of a sport injury, by a fall from a step, or by an unexpected push on the back. The most common complaints in whiplash trauma are neck pain, headaches, loss of concentration, fatigue, memory loss, double vision or fuzzy vision, stiff neck, tingling in the fingers or arms. The symptoms of whiplash often only become noticeable after a few days. In some cases, the victim may even only notice symptoms after months or years.
The symptoms of whiplash can sometimes be so severe that victims are unable to work. To avoid this degree of severity, it is important that people have themselves examined by a chiropractor as quickly as possible after an accident. The chiropractor can determine whether treatment is necessary to restore the mobility of the neck vertebrae as soon as possible.
RSI stands for "Repetitive Strain Injury". This is a collective name for problems of the wrist, elbow, arm shoulder and/or neck. The problems are usually caused by repetitive movements over a long time. The best known cause is long-term computer work in less than ideal situations coupled with pressure and stress! In these situations the muscles do not have the chance to relax and acid builds up. This can lead to muscle and joint problems.
At the early stage, patients often complain of tiredness, tingling, stiffness or loss of feeling in the fingers or hand. Carrying out their daily activities becomes increasingly more difficult. In the next phase, the pain becomes a limiting factor and patients may experience loss of strength. In serious cases, patients may even suffer pain while resting and keeping still!
RSI is a highly complex disorder that is caused by a multitude of factors. This could explain why some people never have problems despite long hours working at the computer, while other people do have problems. The biggest danger of RSI is its gradual, creeping nature! Treating RSI starts with finding the underlying cause of the problem. This is often not at the location of the pain, but elsewhere. Apart from the wrist and elbow, the chiropractor will also examine the shoulder and neck for any blockages. By removing these blockages, the nervous system can start to work again. The over-used muscles are also treated.
Apart from the treatment itself, the chiropractor will also advise patients on the correct work posture, creating a good work space, micro-pausing, and straining the body. The chiropractor will do everything to avoid the symptoms returning.
Upper back pain
Pain in the upper back usually gets worse gradually. It is often a consequence of poor posture, repetitive and one-sided use of the arms, or pushing oneself beyond one’s capacity. Occasionally though, upper back pain can be caused suddenly, for example by straining against something or by making a wrong movement.
The pain is caused by a dysfunction in the thoracic vertebrae and/or the ribs. The muscles are put under strain, an inflammation sets in in the vertebral joint and the surrounding nerves get irritated. This nerve irritation can send shooting pains in the chest, while the chest and upper back muscles cramp. The upper back pain can spread to the neck, arms and head. Coughing, sneezing and breathing deeply can be painful.
The symptoms of upper back pain can resemble heart problems, and thus be a source of anxiety. The chiropractor can check if the symptoms are indeed related to upper back pain.
Many of our patients are from The Hague, 's Gravenhage, Wassenaar, Delft, Rijswijk, Zoetermeer, Voorburg, Voorschoten, Randstad of Zuid-Holland