Ice Packs For Neck Pain

Ice Packs For Neck Pain: A Quick and Viable Remedy

Neck pain is a problem that many people suffer from. There are a variety of methods to alleviate neck pain. There are exercises to help neck pain, as well as various forms of other methods. However, ice packs for neck pain can be a very effective and inexpensive solution.

ice packs for neck painIce packs represent a class of treatment known as cryotherapy. Ice packs for neck pain work best when the pain is the result of an inflammatory response from an injury. The inflammatory response can be part of a natural healing process of another underlying condition, but unfortunately can be quite painful. Applying a cold item to an inflamed area will help to to reduce the inflammation and reduce the pain.

The cooling of tissues leads to a decrease in local tissue metabolism, constricting blood vessels and decreases nerve conduction, producing an analgesic affect. There are many ice packs for neck pain available in different shapes and sizes.

How To Apply Ice Packs For Neck Pain

    There are 3 ways to use ice packs on the neck:
  1. Placed directly on the skin of the neck
  2. Wrapped in a dry towel prior to placing on the neck
  3. Wrapped in a warm, moist towel before using on the neck

The last method is used when there should be a gradual adapting to cold by the initial warmth and the moisture helps to enhance the cooling effect after adaptation. This helps to avoid any initial sudden reaction to cold which can tense the muscles. The last 2 methods help to prevent frostbite from direct application to skin.

How Long To Apply Ice Packs For Neck Pain

Ice packs are usually applied for 20 – 30 minutes for maximum effect. After 30 minutes, the packs lose their level of therapeutic coolness and must be cooled again, where it can take 45 – 60 minutes to reach a temperature for therapeutic benefit. When new ice packs are purchased, they need to be cooled for approximately 6 hours before the first use. If ice packs are store for long periods of time, they should be taken out, defrosted, wiped clean, dried and then refrozen about every 6 months to ensure effectiveness.

How To Use Ice Packs For Neck Pain

There are various types of ice packs for the neck which can easily be stored in the freezer or refrigerator. During application, they can be strapped or wrapped around the neck and/or shoulder area when sitting. Ice therapy can be additionally delivered to the neck through the use of a special therapeutic neck roll pillow for lying on your back. These methods make applying ice packs for neck pain easy, comfortable and effective for home use.neck wrap ice therapyFor an acute injury to the neck where there is pain and inflammation like whiplash, you can use an ice pack for 10 minutes each waking hour for the first 24 – 48 hours. If this is not practical, you can use a 15 minute application every 2 – 4 hours. If you have to improvise for an emergency, crushed ice or a bag of frozen vegetables can be placed in a plastic bag and wrapped in a thin towel. If you have known neck issues like a herniated disc or degenerative arthritis, you neck may be more susceptible to injury or flare-ups involving inflammation, therefore, it is wise to have an ice pack that is specifically designed for the neck readily available. Many of these specially designed ice packs for the neck also have a dual function in that they can be used for heat therapy, making them quite versatile.
ice pack with neck roll

– Combination Therapy With Ice Packs

There is a method whereby ice and heat are combined, which many health care providers will recommend. Most commonly indicated for acute or recent injury with swelling. The goal is to permit the benefit of heat therapy for neck pain, without increasing swelling and produce a type of pumping action to increase blood circulation and reduce pooling of inflammation by alternating the decrease in circulation of ice therapy and the increase in circulation with heat therapy. It is important when using this method to begin and end with heat therapy. It is advisable to have 2 of the same types of hot/cold therapy packs available for consistency of application to increase effectiveness.
u shaped neck pillow with ice pack

When To Use Ice Packs For Neck Pain

Ice therapy for neck pain is indicated for acute or recent injuries or in conditions where there is inflammation or swelling. It is appropriate when used for many types of sprains, strains, bursitis, arthritis and tendinitis. These are conditions where swelling is generally present and respond well to cold therapy. This is not always the case; a stiff neck in the morning from sleeping by a cold draft or under a ceiling fan, as well as an poorly designed pillow may respond better to heat therapy. Cold therapy will increase muscle tone and is not recommended for relaxation. In general, brief periods of cold therapy can help relieve pain and remove inflammation and can help relaxing muscle spasm due to the reaction from pain and swelling. Cold therapy reduces inflammation by decreasing blood pressure locally and reducing the amount of fluids pooling in the area by promoting drainage via the lymphatic system.

When Not To Use Ice Packs For Neck Pain

Ice packs are very safe and have few contraindications, however, some individuals are not able to tolerate cold therapy. This may be due to a genetic factor, a neurological disorder where receptors to cold are hypersensitive or instances where there is impaired circulation like diabetes and arteriosclerosis, some collagen diseases and rheumatoid or gouty arthritis. If you are not sure, always consult with your health care provider.

Adjustable Pillow With Many Health Benefits

An Adjustable Pillow Offers Many Beneficial Options

Many people have tried numerous types of pillows without success. The unfortunate part of this is that they give up, not believing there is a solution to their problem. Although pillows designed for neck pain are usually helpful, there are some people who just can’t seem to find one that is just right for them.

An adjustable pillow can help solve this problem. With the ability to adjust the entire pillow, you can find the right height, firmness and even shape that will suit your needs, all in one pillow. If your needs happen to change as your condition progresses, you do not need to get another pillow, simply adjust the pillow for more firmness or any variables you might require.

Adjustable Pillow Types

There are two main types of adjustable pillows that you should consider. Keep in mind that some pillows offer a small amount of adjustability, however, we are talking about pillows with complete adjustability for height, firmness and, as you will see, even shape!

The first type is a water based pillow. A water pillow sounds somewhat odd, however, they are very durable and do not leak. Made from a durable inner bladder, and surrounded by comforting fiber fill and even available with down filling. The advantage is that you can fill the pillow with levels of water that will provide just enough height for your head and shoulders, keeping the neck in a natural, healthy position all night long.

The second type is an air based pillow. The inflatable pillow uses air cells which can be filled to your personal preference. Additionally, the inflatable pillow has separate chambers, so you can actually adjust the shape of the pillow, providing more or less neck support as needed.

Adjustable Pillow Benefits

adjustable pillow water fillBy using air or water as the mechanism of support, you get a pillow that reacts to changing positions as you sleep without having to adjust the pillow. What does this mean? Both types of pillows react similarly; as you are lying on your back, the pillow surrounds your head and neck with support as the water or air moves around lighter parts of your body, allowing the pillow to conform directly and gently to you specific contours. As you move to the side sleeping position, the water or air will move to surround and fill the gap between the head and shoulders, providing more support to keep your head and neck level, as extra height is needed to accommodate this position due to the extra shoulder length. No need to puff up the pillow or place your arm under it to get added height. So, the main advantage is that a fully adjustable pillow will accommodate changes in position on its own.

Adjustable Pillow Comparison

Again, the pillows react similarly to changing positions. The basic water pillow is perhaps the most economical way to get an adjustable pillow. There are options such as a down fill water pillow or a water pillow with extra neck support. However, you will need to fill it with water. A funnel is provided along with markings for soft, firm and extra firm support. There is some minor noise from the water, however, this is minimal. The main difference is in the weight. Water pillows are heavy pillows. This can be difficult to handle, or you may like a pillow that does not move around while you sleep – it will stay in one place no matter how much you move around at night.

The inflatable pillow is lightweight and also provides a high degree of comfort. It uses a small air pump, included, to fill up the pillow with air. The individual air cells provide great support and movement just like a water pillow which effortlessly reacts to changing positions. The cover is very soothing. The unique options are with the configurations of the pillow. There are either one or two zones. The one zone gives you basic shaping and is good for most situations, including stomach sleeping. Although stomach sleeping is not recommended because of increased angular stress on the neck, the one zone inflatable pillow is an adjustable pillow that will allow you to decrease the height which minimize this stress while stomach sleeping. The two zone gives separate areas to adjust for your head and neck, therefore, you can control the level in each section, providing an extra measure of support for the neck.

adjustable pillow air fill

Adjustable Pillow Additional Details

Because these pillows are adjustable, there is some initial set-up time in order to experiment with getting the right level of fill. You can begin with an average level and adjust it to your needs. Every few months it may be necessary to add a little more air in the inflatable pillow, and this can be done with just a few pumps. The water pillow will not lose water, however, it should be changed every six to eight months  or so.

The Adjustable Pillow And Your Health

An adjustable pillow will react to changing positions, conforming to you particular anatomy as you move. This keeps your spine in alignment in any position, effortlessly. By retaining the natural alignment, pressure on sensitive nerves is minimized and a more natural muscle tone is maintained, alleviating soreness from stiff muscles. An easier progression in changing positions means less sleep interruptions. Longer periods of uninterrupted deep sleep lead to all kinds of health benefits, including raised levels of alertness, a stronger immune system, lowered stress, weight loss, and many more!

Can A Neck Strain Cause Headaches?

Can A Neck Strain Cause Headaches And Other Pain Issues?

Headaches can be caused for a wide variety of reasons. Things like sinus pressure, hormonal changes, direct head injuries, the common cold, and even stress are all well known reasons for why a person might develop a headache. For people who suffer from chronic or frequent headaches finding the cause is the first step in finding a solution to the problem. Sometimes the cause is not clear, or it might be something that people often do not associate with headaches. Neck problems are one of the most common undiagnosed culprits out there for causing this issue.

So can a neck strain cause headaches?

Man With Headache or Neck StrainThe answer is a definite yes. Our neck is effectively the linkage between our brain and the rest of our body. As such it carries a tremendous number of nerves within it in order to pass signals from the brain to everywhere else. At the very base of the back of the skull, in the center where the head meets the neck is one of the largest confluences of nerves in the human body. When something happens to upset those nerves it is highly likely that a headache will develop.

The headache in this case is actually a symptom of the neck strain. It is possible to experience a headache from this neck strain without feeling any pain in the neck at all. The tricky thing about diagnosing pain that results from a neck or back injury is that the pain can show up in areas that seem to be unrelated to the actual injury. So when you ask can neck strains cause headaches the answer is yes, but that is not the only pain that this strain can cause.

Your neck strain could actually be responsible for pain that shows up in your upper back, shoulders, arms, and other places in the body because pain in the neck can transfer to other areas via that large confluence of nerves.

Additionally, if the neck is strained, areas of muscle irritation can form trigger points, which may refer pain to the head and even the shoulders. So, the neck may be the weak link in the chain of muscles and nerves which go to the head.

If you suspect that this is a problem you may be having. The best thing you could do is to actually go to your doctor and ask them can neck strains cause headaches. This is an issue you should always get more than one opinion on. Headaches if they continue for a long period of time can indicate a very serious underlying condition. It is important to get the cause of a long standing headache diagnosed as fast as possible. This is something that should not be ignored.

Often, a simple neck stretching exercise can give a clue to whether the headache is related to neck pain. Performing this, one may be able to determine if it is related to the neck when relief is noted. A headache related to neck issues is called a “cervicogenic headache” and it is usually one sided and may cause some nausea, but no vomiting. Strain to neck muscles as well as joint irritation from poor posture or injuries can be the cause.

A simple example is working at a computer. You are working for a while and notice your having trouble seeing, so you move your head forward towards the screen. Since your head weighs about 10 pounds, holding the head forward places another 10 pounds of weight that your neck must support for each inch the head moves forward. Move closer 4 inches, that’s an extra 40 pounds of weight your neck must support. Maintain this position for hours and neck strain is almost unavoidable.

So, can a neck strain cause headaches? Yes, both from an injury where there is pain and inflammation that follows the nerves upward, and from poor posture that allows too much strain on the muscles so that the joints and discs become irritated.

Heat Therapy For Neck & Back Pain

Heat Therapy Benefits & Contra-Indications

From the time of the earliest bath houses, individuals have used heat therapy to relieve aches and pains. A warm fire, hot coals and warm compresses have come down through the history of mankind as useful healing methods.

Heat Therapy For Neck PainHeat produces a thermal effect and the part of the body treated increases in temperature locally, which further increases the effects of heating. The body responds to heat therapy by producing an analgesic and relaxing effect, there is a slight increase in local metabolism and sedation of sensory nerves. The rise in metabolism produces additional heating, which causes substances to be released to dialate blood vessels and increase blood flow. This is easily achieved with the many hot pack products that are available today.

When heat therapy is applied for too long and with too much heat, swelling can occur, mimicking the reaction of the body to tissue tearing like a strain or sprain injury often seen with whiplash injuries, a twisted ankle or a pulled muscle in the back. Utilizing the appropriate amount of heat and time, the beneficial effects of heat therapy are achieved. These benefits include elimination of waste products and an increase in oxygen supply, nutrients as well as a more rapid response by cells which clean the area.

While applying heat therapy for too short a period of time will have little or no effects, there is a tendancy to overutilize heat for injuries where pain and swelling are present. While it may feel good initially, applying heat to recent injuries where there is inflammation can result in aggravating the condition and prolonging healing by producing further swelling.

Local Effects Of Heat Therapy

Heat applied locally increases tissue metabolism, thus detoxifying the area; however, heat applied too long or too hot can have the reverse effect, decreasing metabolism with resulting congestion and swelling. The local effect of heating on the skin and underlying fatty tissue is to promote sweating, aiding in the removal of toxic wastes. If the heat is beyond tolerance, a burn may result. The nerve receptors of the skin respond by increasing tolerance, causing a release of chemicals which reduce pain. This effect is not substantial and does not warrant heat therapy as a major source of pain control, however, relief is measurable and should be included as a adjunct to other forms of therapy. For example, heat application prior to traction can increase relaxation and suppleness of muscles, thus increasing the effectiveness of traction therapy to the neck and back.

Heat Therapy For Back Pain

Heat has a psychologically beneficial effect regarding relaxation. This is a double edged sword. Since heat feels good, an individual may feel that if 5 minutes of heat feels good, 30 minutes of heat should feel even better. However, heat is often overused and when applied to acute conditions where pain and swelling exists, while 5 minutes may feel good and will not do harm, excessive use of heat under these conditions produces more swelling and prolongs healing.

To avoid this, heat should not be applied an injury for 48 to 72 hours, perhaps longer if there is a chance of reinjury or recurring bleeding and swelling. When there is an injury, the body responds by producing an inflammatory reaction which blocks circulation. This allows cells which help clean the area to move rapidly to the affected part. After the first 48 to 72 hours, this process is usually complete and fresh blood needs to bathe the area to further enhance the healing process. Because the waste products of the initial healing stage are difficult to remove through constricted blood vessels, heat therapy is used to assist this process.

Depending on the extent of the injury and an individuals response, the goal is to manage excessive responses to the healing process. For those who do not like to use ice therapy after an injury due to sensitivity, light massage with a healing herbal liniment towards the heart or a pain patch can be substituted and these are handy products to have around for quick application.

What Is The Best Temperature For Heat Therapy?

Depending on tolerance, the temperature range should be between 100 and 115 degrees F. It should be noted that there are many variables with different types of heat application and temperatures within this range can cause damage if used for several hours. A basic rule would be 113 degrees F for 30 minutes when there is close contact of the heating agent to the skin.

General Benefits Of Heat Therapy

Local heat therapy relieves muscle spasm, increases blood and lymphatic flow, sedates nerves, enhances local nutrition, and detoxifies.

General Contraindication For Heat Therapy

Over areas that have diminished sensation like recently formed scars or where topical ointments have been used that alter sensation, bleeding disorders, localized swelling, skin conditions such as sunburn or rashes, over metal – implants and jewelry or over a pregnant uterus.

If in doubt, always consult with your health care professional.

About Neck Traction For Home Use: What Is It and How Does It Work?

About Neck Traction For Home Use

Neck traction can be an important method to use in attempts to alleviate issues related to discomfort from stiff muscles, pressure from pinched nerves and herniated or bulging discs. There are many devices specifically designed for neck traction that are easy to use and safe when applied with care.

What Is Neck Traction?

Mainly used for chronic pain affecting structures in the neck like muscles, joints, ligaments and discs, neck traction consists of forces applied to the cervical spine which produces a neck stretcher effect. This stretching separates compressed joints in attempts to relieve pressure on discs, nerves, blood vessels and muscles. It is also used for serious injuries and may include sophisticated machines to help in the treatment of fractures and dislocations. At NeckSolutions, we have products that specifically target the neck for use at home. Active traction devices mainly use air pressure to achieve a pulling for that is under your control. This means the force is applied in a manner which makes you comfortable, as everyone is different and will respond to different levels and types of traction. With the advent of new devices, neck traction can be applied without heavy weights, water bags, pulleys connected to doors and straps that pull directly under the chin, which can be aggravating those who suffer from jaw pain or dental issues.

Why Should I Use Neck Traction?

rp_neck-pain-basics-300x300.jpg If you have been suffering from painful neck conditions, there are many reasons to use neck traction. By helping to provide motion to the neck that cannot be achieved by other means, it offers relief by means of relaxing muscles which have become stiff or go into spasm as a reaction to poor posture, tension, chronic disc problems or pinched nerves. The increase in blood circulation can help oxygenate muscles which have become contracted. This can be very beneficial to chronic injuries such as whiplash or strain of neck muscles. As a result of arthritis or degenerative conditions, disc spaces become reduced, joints rub together and sensitive nerves become irritated. Neck traction can help to remove the pressure from these pain producing structures that become compressed. The process of using traction to remove this pressure is called decompression and can have a positive effect on herniated, bulging or protruding disc problems. Traction devices are also designed to help with a loss of the normal curve in the neck, often related to forward head posture or conditions such as a reversal of the curve or straightening of the curve, often called a straight spine, military neck or hypolordosis.

Is Neck Traction Painful?

The idea of neck traction is to stretch the spine. These devices have often been called “neck stretchers”. Like any type of stretch, too much can produce pain. Older type devices would use chin straps to provide the pulling force which can produce jaw pain and aggravate dental conditions. Some use weights or heavy water bags which are difficult to adjust and pose a risk of injury should the device fail. Fortunately, there have been devices designed for home use that are much safer, easier to use and provide more freedom of motion as well as adjustability and comfort. With these new devices, it is easy to control the force, therefore, neck traction should be done to tolerance and never be painful. To tolerance means that you apply the traction until you feel pain relief, not more. If you pump it up too far, quick release valves allow you to reduce it quickly. Some will need small amounts of force to achieve this and some will require more in order to achieve the right amount which provides relief and is not painful; therefore, having a device with a wide range of options for sizing and amount of force like the Air Neck Traction is a great way to start.

Which Traction Devices Are Good For Home Use?

Units like the TracCollar and Air Neck Traction employ a collar type application made of soft materials along with individual control of left and right sides, which can help target specific areas of muscle stiffness and address different types of disc herniations. These are mainly used sitting or standing, but can be used lying down with a small pillow under the head. The TracCollar provides a more rigid type collar with force up to 40 pounds, while the Air Neck Traction uses a softer material with traction capability of over 100 pounds. The TracCollar may be difficult to apply for some with shoulder difficulties, since the buckles fasten in the back.
traccollar airnecktraction
The Home Neck Traction produces forces to target the discs, providing nutrition and can rehabilitate the curve in the neck with only 8 pounds of force. Since it provides traction in 2 directions, it takes less force to affect the discs. This is used lying down and has the option of a chin strap, although it does not have to be used. There are also higher end neck traction models which have pressure gauges that show exactly much pressure is being applied. This can help when a doctor has prescribed a certain level of traction force. This is available in the Cervical Traction Collar, using a collar application or other models like the Pro Neck Traction used lying down.
cervical traction collar pro neck traction
Other types for home use employ a comfortable cushion that is contoured to produce passive traction using the contours in combination with gravity and the weight of the head. The design promotes muscle relaxation and assists in restoration of the normal curve of the neck and to reverse forward head posture. They are used lying down and examples include the Neck Support Pillow and Cervical Traction Pillow.
neck support pillow cervical traction pillow

How Should Neck Traction Be Used At Home?

In general, neck traction should only be used to tolerance with no pain. Effects may be beneficial with small amounts of traction, even with no significant pain relief – as long as the pain does not increase. If your condition is acute or recent, make sure there is no inflammation. Recent traumas such as whiplash or sprain and strain type injuries should be given some time to heal before using traction. You should treat traction applications with care, go easy and for short periods at first, becoming familiar with how it works and how you respond. To tolerance not only applies to amount of force, but to time of application. Start with a few minutes and gradually progress with longer periods as you become accustomed to it. In general, for higher levels of traction, the treatment time should be shorter. Lower levels can be applied for longer periods. Again, everyone will react differently to different levels, therfore, allow an adjustment period to get familiar with levels of force, adjustments to fitting, angles, sitting and lying down. You may find more relief with more or less force applied to one side, bending your head slightly forward or you can apply moist heat prior to traction to help relax the muscles.

Using Traction For Home Rehabilitation

Lets take an example of a muscle injury. A muscle strain is a tear of the muscle; there is bleeding, swelling, pain and restricted motion. Just like a cut on your finger, this needs time to heal. A scab will form, resolve and a scar will be left. This takes some weeks, depending on the extent of injury – a deep cut or a more superficial cut. The time to apply traction would be when the scar has formed. Properly applied tractioning can help prevent poorly formed scar tissue which can interfere with proper muscle function and can form painful adhesions which can trap sensitive nerves. In this manner, traction can be used to stretch the muscle, helping to properly align the scar tissue along the lines of the muscle fibers. A properly formed scar will prevent chances of future injuries by making the muscle stronger and allow the muscle to heal in a healthy manner with proper form and function. This is just one example of how traction can be used to rehabilitate a neck muscle injury. Similarly, it can be applied for joint and disc injuries.

When Should Traction Be Avoided

If prescribed by your health care provider, you should follow all instructions. If you are not sure about how to use it at home or if you should use it at all, consult your doctor. Stay away from recent injuries, allowing time to heal with any medications, heat and ice applications for reducing inflammation. Never apply home traction for any type of malignant condition as well as for broken/fractured bones or following surgical procedures or any type of spinal cord damage. It should not be used for cases of rheumatoid arthritis that has become unstable. Traction should be avoided with any blood clotting disorders, high blood pressure conditions, with dental issues as well as problems with the tmj (jaw joint). If you do not feel comfortable with something that fits snug around your neck, do not use active traction, rather go with the passive forms like the cushions you just lay on. Traction does not squeeze the neck, it provides a force to elongate the neck, however, there are some individuals who just do not feel comfortable with something around the neck.

Neck Traction Products

NeckSolutions has been providing quality neck traction products since 2005. We have products you can use siting, standing or lying down. Traction may or may not provide you with the relief you are seeking. There are no guarantees. If you are not sure about a pre-existing condition, don’t purchase – ask your doctor first. If you have any questions regarding any of the traction devices for home use, please feel free to contact NeckSolutions and we are always happy to help.

Common Neck Injuries With Computers

Common Neck Injuries With Computers

If you spend long and hard hours sitting behind a computer at the office or at home, you may become susceptible to neck injuries. Sitting for prolonged periods of time restricts motion. Motion is necessary to keep proper muscle tone as well as bringing needed fluids into the cervical discs for nutrition. With a lack of blood supply to the discs, the only method to keep them healthy is motion, which lets fluids be absorbed. Restriction of motion effectively weakens the muscles needed to support the neck and causes undue pressure on the joints and discs.

Common Neck Injuries With Computers – Muscles

common neck injuries with computersWeakened neck muscles can cause strain under pressure. Lack of blood flow further reduces the flexibility and suppleness of the muscles. This can lead to activation of trigger points or tender areas in the muscles which may refer pain into the head causing headaches, as well as shoulders and arms. This also increases the force with which the muscles must work to support and move the head, which weighs about 10 pounds, as well as the related muscles which attach to the shoulders. One could easily strain a muscle if remaining in a fixed position for long periods and then turn the head quickly to one side or even a sneeze. So, this scenario may place the neck muscles at risk for strain. A strain is a tear in the muscle. You may not feel the pain at first. Sometimes if you cut yourself, you may not notice it at the time and look to find there is bleeding and then experience some pain. Similarly, a strain, one of the common neck injuries with computers, may not be noticed at the time. You may feel the pain in an hour or perhaps not until the next morning. Depending on the extent of the tearing, there is some bleeding, inflammation and swelling. This must calm down, form a scab and ultimately heal with scar tissue.

Common Neck Injuries With Computers – Joints

As the neck muscles weaken over time, this places more stress on the joints and discs. Because the muscles are not properly supporting the head and shoulders, this dysfunction places more of the function of support on the discs and joints of the cervical spine. The discs sustain more pressure, further drawing essential fluids out and decreasing the height of the discs, which help protect sensitive nerves and surrounding joints. The discs begin to wear and break down, forcing the surrounding joints which are meant to provide smooth motion to assume the function of weight bearing. This leads to joint irritation which may cause stiffness, further reducing mobility and wearing down of these joints.

Common Neck Injuries With Computers – Results

We can begin to see that this forms a vicious cycle of pain, dysfunction and degrading of neck structures with computer use. This is further complicated by poor posture commonly seen when working with computers. Sometimes called forward head posture, this places an enormous amount of stress on the neck by increasing the effective weight the structures must support. For every inch the head is allowed to drift forward, the weight on the neck to support the head increases by 10 pounds! Pretty soon, the neck is trying to support 3 or 4 times the normal weight. This further weakens the muscles, especially the deeper muscles of the neck. More stress is placed on the discs and joints. This process can lead to degenerative problems  and forms of osteoarthritis called cervical spondylosis and facet syndrome. Chronic neck problems can result which are difficult to overcome. This process of weakening, strain, inflammation and stress happens over a period of time, resulting from small changes. Scar tissue can build up in the muscles along with altered function of the discs and joints. This leads to a risk of more significant injuries such as whiplash, where an already poorly functioning neck does not have the ability to withstand even a minor injury. That is one of the reasons what appears to be a small collision can result in a whiplash injury.

Common Neck Injuries With Computers – What Can Be Done

If you already suffer from neck injuries brought on by computers, you need to rethink your work area as well as some of your habits. Below, you will find some useful tips on how to relieve common neck injuries with computers to ensure a pain free day. The placement of your computer screen is very important. Check your computer monitor and make sure that the top of it is at your eye level. Your keyboard and monitor should be centered on your table which allows you to type without twisting your neck in different directions. In some cases, you may need to refer back to documents when you’re typing, if this is the case, use a stand to display your documents at eye level.

Many people use phones while typing on a computer and this requires the use of both hands. However, some may choose to rest the phone on their shoulders and lower their necks in order to better hold the phone in place. What people don’t realize is this in fact can produce common neck injuries with computers or make things worse if you already suffer from neck pain.  A headset can help reduce this pain and keep your hands free to type on the computer. Sitting for long periods of time staring ahead at the computer monitor can also cause neck strain.

When you don’t give your neck a break, it often results in a pain, which sometimes cracks or pops as you rotate it. Some call this a “crick” in the neck, but it can be easily avoided if you take a short break or “mini break” to perform a simple part of our neck exercises every 30 minutes. Basically, if you give your neck a break and take the time to perform a certain motion to reverse the effects of forward head posture, you will relieve many of the common neck pain symptoms that office workers experience. One of the reasons that common neck injuries with computers occur in the first place is because people don’t purchase ergonomic office chairs. There are specialty office chairs that have a proper neck rest installed as well as lumbar support. These types of chairs often don’t cost more than their simpler counterparts, but they provide the proper support for your neck. You have a less likely chance of getting neck pain if your head is properly supported and you don’t put excessive pressure on your neck to support itself for hours on end. Proper posture while sitting at a computer  is very important in maintaining balance of spinal structures.

It is important that you have the proper glasses if you need them. Often times, if you have bifocal lenses or no glasses at all (but need them), you will end up moving your head in different directions to better accommodate your field of vision. This is why it’s important to get the proper eyewear and purchase a computer monitor that is large enough for you to read without straining your eyes and your neck. When you sit in front of your computer, avoid looking down and up too much. Excessive rotation of your head can put extra strain on your neck. This is especially true if you do this on a daily basis without getting occasional exercise. Your neck can easily become painful if you sit hours in front of a computer. The best way to relieve this common type of pain is to avoid it altogether. However, if your neck pain becomes serious to the point of hindering your daily activities, seek professional advice.

Back Belts For Disc Injuries May Provide Many Benefits

Wearing Back Belts For Disc Injuries

traction-beltBillions of dollars are spent each year on back related problems. Many are work related, but others are sports related, working around the house, car accidents, health issues, and even stress. If you have suffered more than three months from back pain, it is now considered chronic back pain.

Back support belts have been used for years to give the back support when lifting heavy loads. However, some health professionals are saying there are many  problems with these belts, such as, wearing them on a regular basis will cause back muscles to weaken, causing more problems. Wearing back belts for disc injuries poses similar concerns.

Back belts are designed to provide support to the lumbar spine. They are used in ergonomics to prevent low back injury, and in clinical settings for conservative and postsurgical management of low back pain. They function biomechanically by reducing trunk range of motion and increasing trunk stiffness, which produces better stability. In general, people feel “safer” and “more stable” during physical exertions when wearing belts, which allows them to continue their activities with less discomfort.

There are studies indicating the benefits of wearing back belts which indicate significantly improve function, levels of pain as well as a decrease in pain medications used for lower back pain. Still, other studies show no benefit or poor outcomes when the belt is taken off. Generally, the quality of these studies are poor, leading to conflicting information and no studies have been specifically directed to the benefits of back belts for disc injuries.  Most of the studies indicate a problem with participants complying in wearing the belts.

Wearing back belts without specific injuries is curious. When using as a reminder to employ safe lifting techniques, there seems no benefit other than a reminder. For heavy lifting, the increase in lumbar spine stabilization may offer  protection from injury, especially after a sudden or unexpected load.

Supporting Back Belts For Disc Injuries

mechanical back beltWith disc injuries, additional pressure on the lumbar spine could cause further injury, swelling and reduced healing capacity. Twisting and bending, often resulting in disc injuries, can be reduced with the use of firm back support belts which restrict motion. These are not standard belts, whose purpose is to serve as a reminder to lift correctly, they must provide a superior level of support for stability, and comfort for compliance which is important when using back belts for disc injuries.

Disc injuries in the back range from small tears to extrusions resulting in significant pain and loss of function. Wearing back support belts should reflect the range of injuries. Initially, swelling must be reduced, as well as activity level. The greatest pressure on the disc results from sitting, then standing. Lifting would place great strain on the disc. These pressures produce an effect opposite of traction. While traction produces a negative pressure in the disc, sitting, standing and lifting produced a positive pressure in the disc. This increases compression forces which may serve to aggravate the condition.

Therefore, an increase in the abdominal pressure and shifting of muscle activation levels may provide sound reasoning for utilizing back belts for disc injuries, serving to compensate for the initial injury and restoring or increasing stability. An additional benefit would be postural. In some, being overweight can have a detrimental effect on an injured disc. The further the abdomen protrudes, the more effective weight is placed on the lumbar spine. Similar to forward head posture, where every inch of forward movement of the head places an additional 10 pounds of effective weight that the neck structures are required to support, a strong and supportive back belt can help bring this weight closer to the spine and reduce the effective weight on the lower back.

Some disc injuries are not recognized as being from the disc. A disc can sustain a tear of the outer portion and not produce typical herniated disc symptoms, but be associated with protective muscle spasm. Therefore, a belt should be worn according to the symptoms, with one being worn just for lifting in less severe disc injuries, while wearing one more for daily activities with more severe symptoms.

In order to provide proper stabilization and restriction to prevent further damage, back belts for disc injuries need to be very stable and powerful. The typical cloth belts will not perform this function. There is also a concern regarding cheap back belts that so much force has to be placed to get the belts tight enough, that this could produce enough strain and twisting to cause further injury. The answer would be to use a back brace employing mechanical advantage. These belts us a pulley mechanism which provides ratios up to six to one; meaning, for every one pound of force you pull, six pounds of pressure is produced in the compression force of the belt.

features of back belts for disc injuries Another option in using back belts for disc injuries would be the added benefit of a traction feature in a back belt. This not only provides stability, but helps to reduce the force on the disc, effectively helping to create a negative force on the disc, reducing pressure while sitting or standing. This is an instance whereby wearing back belts for disc injuries can actually assist the healing process directly, as well as helping to prevent further injury.

Considerations In Wearing Back Belts For Disc Injuries

Not everyone with disc injuries can afford the time to heal properly, avoiding unnecessary lifting or activities. In these cases, wearing back belts for disc injuries can serve an important function. Too much of anything is not good, so one should not be used for extended periods of time. As disc injuries improve, the duration as well as force of pressure can reduced accordingly.

In general, lifting with a firm and supportive belt should be done by inhaling just prior to lifting. This provides a double advantage by increasing intra-abdominal pressure as well as providing leverage produced by the belt, assisting stability and restricting motion.

Generally, lumbar support belts should only be tightened when doing heavy lifting, otherwise it should be loose. This is a reasonable approach to general disc injuries; whereas, with recent disc injuries, belts can be worn to help with general daily activities which otherwise may be difficult or impossible to do.

Everyone is different and will respond differently to wearing back belts for disc injuries. Always discuss this with your health care provider. The decision should consider the extent of injury, levels of pain, the desire for feeling more secure and your particular situation regarding the opportunity to recover without having to lift or curtail activities of daily living.

Pain Patches For Chronic Pain By Neck Solutions

Information And Benefits of Pain Patches for Chronic Pain.

If you are experiencing neck, shoulder, joint, or back pain for long periods of time, pain patches for chronic pain is something you can add to pain relief toolbox. These patches are a lifesaver whether you are experiencing pain from arthritis, or sprain/strain from a chronic injury. These patches use two very popular herbs; frankincense and myrrh, in a time tested formula, that are applied directly to the painful area.

pain patches for chronic pain benefits

A lot of people are tired of using expensive medications that cause unbearable side effects. People are looking for natural pain relief solutions to their everyday problems. This is an extremely safe and effective alternative treatment to everyday neck, shoulder, joint and back pain. You do not have to deal with the unbearable pain any longer. We have developed new, safe, and easy to use pain patches for chronic pain.

When you purchase pain patches, you will receive 5 patches per box; 5 boxes – that’s 25 patches! Not only are the patches extremely safe, natural and affordable – they are also extremely convenient. All you have to do to relieve the pain is apply the patch to the designated area(s) of discomfort, and let the patch do all of the work. You should be able to notice a different in the pain levels within minutes. The pain patches for chronic pain or even a recent muscle strain or joint sprain are extremely effective.

The pain patches for chronic pain are not for use with children. The patches were designed for adults experiencing chronic pain. You should ensure that the affected area’s skin has been completely cleaned and is dry. You should use the patches no more than three to four times per day. It is extremely rare to experience side effects or other adverse reactions to the pain patches. However, it is advisable that you test your reaction to the pain patches before a full application. You can do this by placing a small piece on your skin before applying elsewhere. The patches use a strong adhesive, so be careful with areas that have a lot of hair.

As with any health care product, you should check with your health care practitioner before using. Your health care practitioner should be able to guide you towards the best solution to your health problems. Many traditional medical doctors may not be familiar with herbal formulas, so consulting an herbalist or martial artist may prove helpful.

If you are experiencing chronic pain, you should think about giving pain patches for chronic pain a try. They have been shown to be effective and affordable solutions to relieving people of discomfort and discomfort associated with neck, shoulder and back pain. The patches contain all natural ingredients and contain two very well known herbs (frankincense and myrrh) that are known for their pain relieving properties, combined in a specific, traditional herbal formula for long lasting relief. They are extremely affordable and a good alternative to pain relieving medications.

Pillows For Tension Headaches

What Are The Best Pillows For Tension Headaches?

Do you suffer from frequent tension headaches? The source of your pain might stem from more than just stress. Some people even wake up with a headache because their pillow is uncomfortable. Is your pillow contributing to your headaches?

pillows for tension headaches

There are some very good pillows for tension headaches. They allow you to sleep with your head and neck in a comfortable and relaxed position so your muscles will not tense up and cause you pain. The right pillow for you really depends upon your own preferences.

Memory Foam Pillows

Memory foam is one popular material for headaches that can help people sleep in a natural and relaxed position. This foam gently gives under the weight of your head, but springs back to its original shape and firmness. That is very different most pillows that end to get flat after a few uses.

Specially Shaped Pillows

Some of these pillows are shaped like traditional pillows, but others have a “U” shape to keep your head at a good angle and your neck well supported. A lot of head pain actually originates because of neck tension. Some people prefer these differently shaped pillows, but others prefer pillows that are shaped like normal ones.

Ice Pillows

You can even find pillows that have a compartments for an ice pack. Some tension pain is caused by inflamed muscles. Ice tends to numb your muscles and also cause your muscles to contract. This can help increase your blood flow. This special compartment allows you to insert ice, but not worry about it melting all over the place in case you fall asleep.

Hot And Cold Pillows

One other type of pillows for tension headaches can actually be heated or cooled. In order to cool the pillow off, you simply put it in the freezer for a few hours. You can put them in the microwave for a couple of minutes to warm them up. Can you imagine the luxury of having a cold or a hot pillow when you have a headache? Why wake up in pain? If you already have a headache, why not get some real relief. You can choose some of the best pillows for tension headaches. They can help relieve your pain and prevent it in the future. These pillows might also be useful for people with other types of head pain. These include sprains, stiff necks, injuries, and pinched nerves. Do yourself a favor and look into pillows for tension headaches today.

Forward Head Posture – Causes & Correction

What Is Forward Head Posture?

correcting forward head postureForward head posture is a result of an imbalance of positioning between the head and neck. Sounds simple but it has many health implications regarding not only pain, but your entire body.

As the head moves forward, the neck straightens while the righting mechanism of the eyes rotates the head up. So, it is a coupled distortion and not just a simple bending of the neck. This places a great deal of strain on the neck structures as they need to balance the weight of the head, about the weight of a bowling ball. As the laws of physics dictate, the further away from the body a weight gets, the more the effective weight is – the heavier it feels and the harder muscles must work to hold it. It takes just an inch of forward head posture to increase the effective weight that the neck muscles and ligaments must support by 10 pounds. Imagine a forward head posture of 3 or 4 inches!

Why Is Forward Head Posture Bad?

It has direct implications for the head and neck. Some neck muscles become weakened, while others become contracted. This leads to chronic muscle strain. Ligaments become stretched. This places an imbalance of pressure on the discs in the neck. Over time, these structures become damaged and arthritis and disc problems can result.

Another feature is the pressure on nerves at the base of the skull. This area becomes narrowed with the head rotating upwards, pinching the nerves between the base of the skull and the top of the neck. Women are particularly vulnerable since this space is typically more narrow than in men. The nerves in this region are attached to a sensitive layer covering the brain and can cause headaches. Irritation of this covering may be the reason for a hangover headache from too much alcohol.

Forward head posture can also affect breathing & oxygen levels. This causes a decrease in the capacity of the lungs to hold oxygen. This decrease in oxygen has far reaching consequences and can affect the way your digestive system absorbs nutrients as well as complicate asthmatic conditions and circulatory problems.

What Causes Forward Head Posture?

Injuries like strain and sprains from whiplash can cause muscle and ligament damage which affects the ability to maintain a healthy posture. In a computer driven society, harmful upper body posture is often cause by sitting at a computer or laptop for long periods. Often deep into work, we forget to maintain appropriate positioning. Reading in bed also places the head and neck forward. The typical slumped posture, often related to poorly designed seating poses a risk of bad posture. This implicates not only the neck, but the lower back and upper back as the shoulders become rounded, stretching the scapular muscles between the shoulder blades and placing harmful forces into the low back area. Over months and years, this re-sets muscle memory and it becomes habit. Breaking this habit requires some effort, however, although there are many and varied methods developed to correct forward head posture, there are some relatively easy ones to help.

Correcting Forward Head Posture

The methods vary from lifting weights, muscle therapy, vibrational cervical traction devices, head weights, adjustments and/or manipulations of spinal vertebra, postural re-education…. the list is almost endless of simple home based measures to complicated and expensive office based procedures. Any help in the right direction is beneficial.

Although there are many muscle groups involved, research has found that the deep muscles in front of the neck are a main culprit involved with forward head posture. These muscles become overstretched and weakened, allowing the head to move further into the forward head posture. A simple but specific neck stretching exercise can help with this. It is a simple exercise or stretch which involves reversing the motion produced in forward head posture. This is a primary factor in correcting forward head posture. It takes some practice, but it has been shown to improve posture and has the ability in some cases to immediately affect neck pain and related headaches.

It is important to have a method that is easy to do and can be done anywhere and anytime. It also does not require any exercise equipment, although there are products to assist. The forward head posture correction exercise can be done quickly and repeated many times throughout the course of a day. This is important since we are also trying to break a bad habit.

Remember it consists not only the head moving forward, but a rotating up of the head. So, the motion performed in correcting forward head posture consists of retracting the head over the shoulders and performing a nodding motion downward, as if you are motioning “yes”. This nodding motion opens the space between the base of the skull and the top of the neck. Since we are targeting the deep muscles, there should be no activity in the superficial or top layer of muscles. Therefore, when performing the forward head posture correction exercise, you can begin by placing your hand over the front of the neck to make sure you do not feel the muscles moving. The head and neck are straight with retraction and then the chin comes slightly down, while the back of the head comes slightly up.

Practice makes perfect, and it will take a little time to master this. You will feel it in the back of your neck if you are doing it correctly. It is quality that matters, not quantity. Perform this motion and hold for a few seconds then relax. The better you get, the longer you can hold the position. It can easily be done while sitting at a computer, driving, standing or lying down. It can be done without looking silly, so nobody knows you are actually doing a stretch to improve the postural muscles of the neck for pain relief as well as long term rehabilitation. It can be done as often as you like, even once an hour can have great benefits in correcting forward head posture.