Vitamin D Deficiency – Neck & Back Pain

With The Widespread Prevalence Of Vitamin D Deficiency & Spinal Pain, We Should Pay Attention To This Supplement In Relation To Neck & Back Pain.

As we age, degenerative conditions of the spine and decreased musculosketetal function leave us susceptible to falls, fractures, pain and a number of chronic conditions. Supplementation with vitamin D is known to help reduce the risk of fractures because of it’s function in bone mineralization, however, it can also protect against falls by improving muscle function. This vitamin further has been shown to have a protective effect in diseases like cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoarthritis and cancer. An analysis has shown supplementing with vitamin D can reduce mortality from all causes.

According to a December, 2014 publication in World Neurosurgery, a study has indicated a correlation between individuals undergoing spinal surgery and a deficiency of vitamin D. Blood serum vitamin D levels were taken from individuals undergoing fusion for spinal instability and degenerative spinal spondylosis.

The authors discovered that Vitamin D deficiency was associated with individuals having a diagnosis of degenerative spondylosis. Additionally, it was noted that those who were middle aged, men, obese, diabetics and those who do not use vitamin D supplements showed a higher occurrence of vitamin D deficiency.

A march/April, 2013 issue of the journal Pain Physician found an association between deficiency of vitamin D and spinal stenosis of the lumbar spine. In this study, almost 75% of individuals with spinal stenosis had a vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, the level of pain was also associate, with higher levels of pain associated with a high occurrence of vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D Deficiency – More Than Just Neck & Back Pain

vitamin d deficiency

The December 2013 issue of the Global Spine Journal found an association between vitamin D deficiency and cervical disc herniations in adults requiring spinal surgery. The deficiency was associated with a greater number of cervical disc herniations for an individual.

The authors of the study indicate that a deficiency of vitamin may increase the risk of back and neck pain from disc degeneration, disc herniation with nerve compression, as well as radiculitis.

Studies indicate vitamin D has the ability to decrease inflammatory chemicals of the outer part of the disc, the part that is torn or ruptured in a herniation. These inflammatory chemicals are responsible for pain, tissue destruction as well as erosion of cartilage, often seen with destructive degenerative conditions like Modic changes.


Standing Posture – Tips To Reduce Pain

Standing Posture & How To Improve It To Avoid Back, Leg & Foot Pain

standing postureStanding for long periods can pose a postural problem leading to painful conditions. We know sitting for long periods is unhealthy, however, does this mean standing is better?

Standing is a posture often used at work and almost half of workers spend about 75% of the time standing and almost half of these workers do not have the ability to sit when they want. Standing for long periods is associated with back pain and problems with the legs and feet. Many health crare professionals are recommending standing more than sitting, however, standing for long periods can be just as detrimental to health as sitting. We therefore need to find a balance between standing and sitting. Much has been written about sitting correctly to avoid painful conditions; lets look how we can improve our standing posture.

What is the Best Standing Posture?

Make sure you stand upright. Standing upright requires use of the postural muscles that need to be strong to maintain the best standing posture. The head should be straight with the chin slightly in to avoid forwad head posture and neck strain. The best way to do this is to make sure the ears are held over the shoulders. The shoulders should be held slightly back to avoid the rounded shoulder posture that can lead to upper back problems as the muscles between the shoulders become overstretched and weak. The arms should be relaxed down and not held up as this can lead to a painful trapezius muscle. The knees should be straight, but not locked. The posture of the back should be natural, slightly holding the stomach muscles so the pelvis does not tilt forward. Allowing the pelvis to tilt forward leads to a sway back posture that weakens stomach muscles and stresses the back muscles and joints. The feet should be at shoulders width and the weight should be at the balls of the feet and not the heels. Grasp the ground with your toes to motion away from the heels and get a feel for the balls of your feet.

better standing posture

If you need to stand for long periods, shift your weight from the right and left foot and also rock slightly from the balls of the feet to the heels. This can help increase blood flow and reduce strain on the legs and feet.

The Benefits Of Good Standing Posture

Standing in good posture not only feels better, but it looks better too. It is much more health for the muscles, ligaments, joints, blood flow and self esteem.

  • Alleviates muscle fatigue by increasing efficiency and decreases the amount of energy needed.
  • Minimizes stress on joints.
  • Allows better function of ligaments for increased motion.
  • Avoids strain from overuse.
  • Eases stress on lower back and muscles.
  • Helps with confidence and better appearance.

How To Improve Standing Posture

By following the tips for better posture, you will be training the muscles that will help to maintain better posture. It may not feel natural at first and can cause some soreness initially because the muscles need to get used to holding and working better. Try to spend some time each day working on your posture. It can be just 10 minutes at first, then progress a little each day or week. It takes time to form new habits, so don’t expect results overnight. Being persistent will pay off in the long run. realize that this takes some effort; muscles need to work differently, ligaments slowly adapt, and gradual change can take place with 6 to 8 weeks of effort. Soon, you will be able to feel more at ease and comfortable with your new posture, as it requires less effort to maintain. Others may notice the difference, noting something is different about you, but can’t quite put their finger on it.

Can I Get Better Standing Posture?

Some will have more difficulty with this than others. It depends on your desire and some have musculoskeletal problems like arthritis that can make it more challenging. Certain areas may need more specific exercising and stretching. Starting with simple neck rehab exercises as well as back stretching and exercising may need to be looked into to help. You can consult with a chiropractor or physical therapist for advice, evaluation and/or specific instruction or treatment when necessary to help with better standing posture.


Pinched Nerve In Neck

A Pinched Nerve In The Neck: Common Symptoms & Methods Of Treatment

pinched nerve in neckA nerve is similar to an electric cord that carries electrical impulses. Nerves transmit information to and from the brain. The nerves in the neck communicate between the brain and arms. These electric cords run from the brain, down the spinal canal and exit out the cervical vertebra or neck bones and go to the arms, including muscles and skin. A “pinched nerve” describes an area of the nerve where there is pressure. When there is enough pressure, symptoms can arise that can cause pain and disturbed function.

Pinched Nerve In Neck Causes

pinched nerve causesPinching of the nerve is caused from pressure or compression. This term does not indicate how it is being pinched. There are many causes for a pinched nerve in the neck. It is often associated with degenerative changes in the disc and arthritis of the joints. This can lead to bone spurs which form on the bones and can pinch a nerve. Sometimes this is only felt when moving in certain directions. A nerve can be pinched from a disc herniation. A herniated disc, sometimes called a “slipped disc“, can result in the disc bulging or protruding into the nerve. So, pinching of the nerve is often caused by a narrowing of the space that the nerve goes through, squeezing the nerve causing compression or pressure on the nerve, which causes symptoms.

Pinched Nerve In Neck Symptoms

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in the neck can cause more than just neck pain. Remember, the nerves go through the neck into the arms, therefore, symptoms may be felt in the shoulders, arms, and even into the hand and fingers. Symptoms of a pinched nerve are often referred to as radiculopathy by medical professionals.

Symptoms may include neck pain and stiffness. This pain can be sharp. The pain may also be dull or achy, and this is often experienced as neck and shoulder pain. Pain into the shoulder or between the shoulders can be a result of the pinched nerve causing pain to radiate into these areas.

Because the nerve is being pinched, pain may be felt in areas distant from the neck, like the arm or hand. The nerve pinching may cause symptoms like numbness or tingling. This may be felt as pins and needles going into the fingers and may cause symptoms described as the arm or hand “falling asleep”. It is often possible to tell which nerve is affected by the area or areas that the symptoms are found, since each nerve has a particular location that it goes through. This can be the area of pain, numbness or even muscle weakness. Often, it is not clear and diagnosis by a health care professional is necessary to determine the cause of a pinched nerve in neck, or if there is another reason for the symptoms, such as vascular problems or possible tumor.

How Is A Pinched Nerve In Neck Diagnosed?

A health care professional will need to take a health history and details about the pinched nerve symptoms. It is important to know things like accident, family and health history. A referral to a specialist may be necessary as special orthopedic tests and imaging studies like x-rays or MRI exams may be needed to correlate the findings in order to make a diagnosis. This will determine treatment methods recommended to alleviate the symptoms.

Methods To Treat A Pinched Nerve

pinched nerve treatmentYou should beware of individuals making claims of a cure. There are no easy or guaranteed fixes. In general, a pinched nerve in the neck is treated according to the severity of symptoms, if it is recent or has been going on for some time, and the findings indicated by any imaging studies. Initially, rest is indicated along with any medications to alleviate pain and inflammation. Sometimes, this is all that is needed to treat the pinched nerve. Ice on the neck may be used if it is a recent pinched nerve, or heat therapy may be recommended with long term or chronic pinched nerve symptoms. Comfortable pillows makes good common sense to reduce pain while resting and sleeping.

Supports

Often, cervical support braces may be used to help restrict harmful motions and help support the muscles. There are many types of braces ranging from soft collars to more rigid braces. Your doctor will usually recommend which type of brace you need, however, a general collar that is not too restricting while providing some measure of support and comfort is reasonable to help in the initial stages of healing and reducing muscle spasm.

Medication

Over the counter medications that reduce pain and inflammation may be used, however, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications to more rapidly reduce inflammation depending on your health history. This can help reduce the pain. Some doctors may prescribe muscle relaxers or medications that specifically reduce pain. It is important to follow the directions for taking any medications and ask any questions regarding side effects. Your doctor and pharmacist are the best sources to answer your questions about medications for a pinched neck nerve.

Exercise

Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy. In general, exercises are the main method of treatment. Exercises to reduce pain can be effective and a physical therapist is an expert in this type of care. In some instance, exercises can be done at home. With a pinched nerve, it is important to use motions that reduce pain or cause the symptoms to move from the hand to the arm, or from the arm to the neck. This process is called centralization. It emphasizes the point that any movements which cause the pain to become worse or radiate to distant areas should be avoided. Likewise, those motions that reduce pain or cause it to move towards the center are to be done within reason.

For example; a pinched nerve usually is one sided – left or right. If you have a pinched nerve on the right side and perhaps tingling down to the fingers, usually, turning and/or bending the head to the right may cause more pain. Therefore, this motion should be avoided. Bending the head to the left may cause the pain to lessen or cause the tingling to lessen. The motion of turning or bending to the left can be done as a stretch or exercise. Raisin the affected side arm and placing the hand on your head may alleviate the symptoms and this could be done alone, or in combination with the motion that reduces symptoms.

So, exercises and/or stretching for a pinched nerve must be done specifically and with caution. This should be done after any inflammation from a recent pinched nerve or as a result from injury. Once the specific exercises are able to stabilize the condition, more general exercising can be done to help strengthen the neck and prevent future problems.

Neck Traction

When a pinched nerve is due to compression, traction is often used as a decompression therapy to remove pressure on the nerve. Traction can be done in an office setting or can be done at home with the use of specially designed traction devices. Traction can be used while lying down or, with collar type device, while sitting. Traction should not be used when there is active inflammation. When using at home, it may be prescribed using certain details, or it can be used to tolerance with care not to increase any pain. This, like heat and ice, is intended to produce a certain physiological response – too much can produce negative effects.

Massage Therapy

massage for pinched nerve in neckMassage can be helpful in reducing muscle spasm and pain associated with a pinched nerve. In general, light, therapeutic massage should be used. This can be very relaxing, however, care must be taken not to remain in one position for too long. Massage should not be forceful. While deep tissue massage has its place, and may even feel good, during the early stages of a pinched nerve, light massage is all that is needed. Later, during the healing process, deep muscle massage or trigger point therapy can be used to help the muscles and address any chronic pain issues.

Chiropractic Care

A chiropractor may help with a pinched nerve, depending on the findings. A chiropractor will do an examination and determine if the pinched nerve would be amenable to treatment. Typically, this treatment involves adjustments in the direction that alleviates the pain. This is similar to the direction preference noted above for exercise and stretching. Another approach used by chiropractors is a combination of adjusting with traction by means of a special adjusting table. This is a low force treatment, like Cox Chiropractic Technique, that can be quite effective. Some chiropractors will use additional therapies to alleviate pain and inflammation, like hot/cold treatments, electrical stimulation, cold laser, exercise and other methods.

Spinal Injections

When the use of conservative therapies do not produce results in a reasonable period of time, say about 3 months, additional treatments may be considered. Options are typically more invasive and injections may be offered. Spinal injection treatment for a pinched nerve consist of injecting anti-inflammatory and/or pain relieving medications into areas of the spine that may respond to concentrated and direct application of the medications.

Surgery

When conservative treatments and injections fail to provide relief or resolution of the condition, surgery may be an option. This is usually a last resort, unless there are specific indications for surgery from the beginning. Surgical methods vary depending on the condition and the surgeon. Surgical success is increased when selection of the patient with the appropriate criteria are met. Things like health status along with positive attitudes effect outcomes.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Pinched Nerve In Neck?

Since everyone is different and will respond differently to different therapies, there is no set time for recovery from a pinched nerve. Some cases can be managed in a matter of weeks, with fairly rapid relief from response to medications like oral steroids, which can rapidly reduce inflammation. Some cases of pinched nerves will go through a period of conservative therapies and wind up needing surgery. Depending on the condition, this may take a year or so. Generally, the better your health and condition of your spine, the better you will recover from a pinched nerve in the neck.


Can A Pillow Help You Lose Weight?

Can A Pillow Help You Lose Weight?

Obviously, a pillow won’t help you lose weight, however; if a pillow helps transform your life by reducing suffering from neck pain conditions, losing weight just might be one of the benefits.

We recently received an email from a customer overseas:

“In August I bought from you an X-large therapeutic pillow. It has transformed my life. I now sleep like a baby and have no neck or shoulder pain in the morning. I cannot describe how wonderful it is to feel loose in the shoulders and neck as one wakes from a deep slumber. My constant neck tension has disappeared. And not only is the pillow fantastic it has saved me a small fortune by reducing drastically the number of massage and chiropractic appointments I need to attend. So a big round of applause and a huge pat on the back to whoever designed the pillow.”

can a pillow help you loose weight?

“And so I wish to order a second pillow. This one is to be taken in hand luggage on worldwide travels. Furthermore, by the time I receive this second pillow through the post, I will have lost about 20kg in weight (about 45 lbs in US measures) so will, for this order, opt for a pillow one size smaller.”

This is always nice to hear.

So, in this instance, a pillow did help this gentleman with losing weight. While it was not the intention, it was a nice side effect, and one we hope continues.