Aching and stiffness in the shoulders and neck are an extremely common problem, especially for those involved in desk and computer working. If you feel like you need a daily massage, the real cause tends to be postural. Whilst seated, staring at a screen for hours on end, it is easy to fall into a slumped position, with rounded shoulders and the neck protruding forwards. Assuming this position day-in, day-out can result in shortening of the chest muscles and weakening of the small, postural upper back and neck muscles which work to pull the shoulders back. This results in the larger back and neck muscles such as Trapezius and the Rhomboids working harder and becoming tight and achy. Working on correcting these imbalances, by stretching the chest muscles and building endurance strength in the postural muscles such as the lower Trapz and Serratus Anterior can result in a long-term fix.
I treat neck and shoulder pain with soft tissue therapy, mobilization of the stiff joints, ELDOA exercises, shockwave, laser, and posture training.
If you have any of the above, have you tried Pneumatic Lymphatic Pump Therapy?
One of the most neglected systems of the body is the Lymphatic system. An innovative treatment for chronic pain, foot pain, hip pain, inflammation, neck pain, shoulder pain, & TMJ pain is Lymph Drainage Therapy (DLT). In my office I use state of the art technology called LymphaTouch for DLT. Benefits of the LympaTouch Pump Therapy include reduction in limb circumference, pain, increase in range of motion, scar mobility and improved functioning of the immune system. The immune system is stimulated through increased lymph flow. The additional flow carries more antigens to the lymph nodes, thereby increasing antibody/antigen contact. This has been found to help with chronic or subacute inflammatory processes — chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disease, bronchitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, arthritis, acne and eczema.
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I was recently asked a question about neck pain and Kinesio-Taping. Gonzales-Iglasias et al. (2009) studied the short term effectiveness of Kinesio-Taping on reducing pain and increasing cervical ROM in patients that have suffered an acute whiplash injury. They used 41 patients (21 females) for this particular study, and the subjects were randomly assigned to 2 groups. The experimental group received a Kinesio-Taping application (applied with tension) to the cervical spine, and the control group received a Kinesio-Taping application (applied with NO tension). Baseline data for pain and for cervical ROM were collected, then data was collected immediately following the application of the Kinesio-Tape to the cervical spine, and data was collected 24 hours later by an individual who was not aware to who received which particular intervention. The results showed that statically the Kinesio-Tape intervention group showed improvements in pain and increases in ROM. It was noted, however, that the improvements were small and may not be clinically significant. (Gonzalez-Iglesias et al, 2009) The study recommends that future studies on the long-term effectiveness of the application of Kinesio-Taping. Also, it recommended that studies be conducted on the potential enhanced outcome when Kinesio-Tape and physical therapy are used together (Gonzales-Iglesias et al, 2009) which was one of the original intent of the use of Kinesio-Tape.
Chiropractors, PT’s, AT’s & coaches frequently use Kinesio-Taping techniques in there practices. The majority of patients that I use tape on notice immediate results of reduction of pain and an increase in their ability to move that particular body part. The typical time-frame for application is around 3-4 days. I typically apply the Kinesio-Tape in a fashion that facilitates muscular contraction in the desired muscle group, by theory that the Kinesio-Tape provides afferent stimuli, that reduces the effects of pain inhibition on muscle function.
Gonzalez-Iglasias, J., Fernandez-De-Las-Penas, Cleland, J., Huijbregts, P., del Rosario Gutierrez-Vega, M. Short-Term Effects of Cervical Kinesio Taping on Pain and Cervical Range of Motion in Patients with Acute Whiplash Injury: A Randomized Clinical Trial. (2009) Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 39 (7): 515-521
This study included 31,022 teens from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Greenland and Norway who were part of the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children study. Teens reported how much time they spent playing computer-based or television-based games, how much time they spent on the computer and how much time they spent watching TV. They were also asked about the frequency of headaches, backaches and bouts of feeling low.
Researchers found a consistent but weak link between boys who reported having backaches weekly and those who said they spent more time using computers, watching television and playing computer games. For girls, a link was found between those who had headaches and who also said they spent more time on the computer and watching TV. The results held even when the researchers adjusted for levels of physical activity.
The study’s authors think that the link between back and head pain and screen time might not be related to the kind of screen activity the teens were engaged in, but to the amount of time they spent doing it and how they sat or stood while screen-engaged.
Over my 28 years in practice I have seen more back pain, neck aches, neck-shoulder pain and headache in the adolescent population.
Excess amounts of screen time have also been associated with obesity in young people.
The study was published in the journal BMC Public Health
Laser therapy gives consistent clinical results, with changes that are noticeable in just a few office visits. Laser effects the tissues to produce positive results such as faster wound healing and pain reduction. It is one of the best modalities to help relieve acute and chronic pain and repair injured/damaged tissue.
Just as photosynthesis creates energy for plants, the absorption of the laser light photons by cells in your body causes increased production of cellular energy to improve the rate and quality of healing.
Some of the effects include increased levels of endorphins and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Applicable conditions of laser therapy
1. Low back pain
2. Wound healing
3. Dermatological conditions
4. Temporo-mandibular Joint Dysfunction
5. Frontal and maxillary sinus inflammation
6. Rotator Cuff injuries (shoulder pain)
7. Epicondylitis (elbow pain)
8. Small joints of the hands
9. Trigeminal Neuralgia
10. Bell’s Palsy
11. Neck pain
I am not in favor of expensive, ineffective and potentially dangerous “treatments” for chronic pain while ignoring causes and prevention of chronic pain. I devote my time spent with clients on examining the causes and most importantly, focusing on how we can prevent acute pain from becoming chronic pain.
I find out what my clients vitamin D levels are. If they are low, they must be elevated to within normal levels. I recommend omega 3 fish oils to all my chronic pain patients. I figure out what exercises clients will do consistently. Diet & supplement recommendations are vitally important. I also recommend my clients eat a low-glycemic diet.
Chronic low back pain or neck pain is a disease we often give to ourselves. Poor posture and a lack of variety of movement are two of the most common causes I see in most cases.
In Most Cases, Chronic Pain is Preventable…
In the absence of trauma or other known disease, most pain that I treat is caused by lifestyle and environmental factors. That means that pain can be improved by eliminating these factors. Some of the risk factors for low back pain are possible to avoid. Maintain good sitting posture, avoid slumping over while sitting, and use proper mechanics while lifting.
In just about every degenerative disease the cause is from the poor choices we make and the habits we develop over a lifetime.
Let’s talk about how you can improve your quality of life.