Do you ever ask yourself why your neck is so stiff, or why you have that nagging headache that doesn’t seem to want to go away? Neck pain is a common complaint for Canadians that can range from mildly inconvenient to completely debilitating. You’re probably aware that poor posture, hunching over a computer, or falling asleep on the sofa can cause your neck pain. But did you know your smartphone might be to blame?
How prolonged use can cause strain
According to a recent poll by Forum Research, more than a quarter of Canadians use a mobile device at least two hours a day.1 Over the span of a week, that’s 14 hours spent texting, calling and swiping.
So what exactly is happening to your neck while you’re staring at your smartphone? It all has to do with the angle of your head. When you’re sitting or standing in a neutral position, looking forward, your head weighs between 10-12 lbs. As you begin to tilt your head forward 15 degrees, you put stress on your neck, increasing the pressure to 27 lbs. By the time you angle your head 60 degrees to stare at your smartphone, the pressure equates to a whopping 60 lbs. That’s a lot of strain on your neck and spine!
Tips to relieve pain
What can you do to protect your spine and relieve neck pain? We know you can’t completely disconnect from your smartphones – many of us use our devices for work, to stay connected with distant friends and family, and as a source of entertainment after a long day. But there are small changes you can make to reduce the strain over time.
Dr. Sean Lamasz, DC, recommends the following tips to manage “Text Neck:”2
Lift your phone up to eye level
“A simple way to help prevent neck pain associated with these devices is to avoid bending your neck forward,” advises Dr. Lamasz. “Looking at your phone while sitting at your desk? Lean on your elbows, bringing your phone to eye level, allowing you to keep your neck in its neutral position.”
Take a break
Dr. Lamasz suggests implementing the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes on your mobile device, take a 20-second break and look 20 feet ahead, which will neutralize your spine.
Stretch it out
If you’re looking for something you can do to instantly relieve neck pain, try these eight simple stretches:
Children have another month before they’re back to school and summertime is a great season to get kids outdoors and active. It can sometimes be a struggle to get children away from technology to spend more time outdoors practicing activities and sports, however it is so important to keep them physically active and set themselves up for success in the future, including good MSK health.
Children aged 5–11 should participate in at least one hour of physical activity each day to help build strong bones and muscles. But sometimes getting children interested and motivated to go out and play is easier said than done.
Here are some tips to help get children up and moving:
Encourage frequent walks or even biking adventures around the neighbourhood
Get active as a family
Ask them to help you carry the groceries
Have them help with garden work
Play some tunes and host a dance party outdoors
Join community, recreational sports team(s)
Take kids to the playground or to the park to play
There are numerous benefits to active living for the young and old: it improves self-esteem, the health of the cardiovascular system, bones and muscles, as well as posture; it also encourages healthy growth and development. Outdoor activities are also a great way to get children to socialize and meet new friends.
To meet the suggested daily requirements, children aged 5–11 years should minimize the time they spend being sedentary each day. This may be achieved by limiting recreational screen time to no more than two hours per day; being less sedentary is associated with additional health benefits. Also, consider limiting sedentary (motorized) transport, extended sitting, and time spent indoors throughout the day.
Consider signing children up for summer programs that involve physical activity and get them involved in summer team sports. Another great way to teach children the importance of physical activity is to do something active as a family as often as possible—whether you go for a bike ride or play a game of soccer together. Setting an example is the best way to show children to the importance of physical activity.
You can also download the Straighten Up Canada app for easy-to-follow videos that demonstrate simple activities and exercises that can be done anywhere.
Have you ever experienced a headache that refers from the back of the neck to your eye? The sensation that I experience is often quite sharp and localized to one side of my head (usually the right side). These type of headaches are quite commonly experienced by many individuals in the population. Perhaps, increased stress, working at the computer for long hours or long commutes maybe responsible for these headaches…
There are a variety of headaches out there – migraine, cluster and tension-type to name a few. The headache that I am referring above is known in the medical literature as a “cervicogenic headache”.
What is a Cervicogenic Headache?
A cervicogenic headache is caused by an abnormality of the structures in the neck. What structures you ask? Basically, the muscles, nerve, bone, fascia and other soft tissues located in the neck area. A cervicogenic headache is sometimes debilitating and is a condition that accounts for 15% to 20% of all headaches. The criteria for diagnosing a cervicogenic headache is as follows:
A. Pain is referred from a source in the neck and perceived in one or more regions of the head and/or face, fulfilling criteria C and D
B. Clinical, laboratory and/or imaging evidence of a disorder within the cervical spine or soft tissues of the neck known to cause headache
C. Clinical signs that implicate a source of pain in the neck.
1. Reduced range of motion
2. Mechanical exacerbation of pain
3. Focal neck tenderness
4. Trigger points that refer to the head
D. When myofascial tender spots are the only cause, the headache should be diagnoses as tension-type headache and not cervicogenic.
What is the cause of a Cervicogenic Headache?
An issue to the neck muscles and other surrounding tissues/structures (bones and joints) are responsible for this type of headache. Whether it be a strain or strain, trauma or fall, our soft tissues and joints can become involved and negatively influenced. Sometimes the C0-C1 joint (first neck joint between the spine and head) or those neck joints below become tight/locked or restricted for whatever the reason. Furthermore, sometimes the muscles in the areas also become tight and tender. A question that is difficult to answer is what causes what – Is it the joint tightness that causes the muscle pain/tightness OR is it that tight muscles that cause the joint pain and thus the cervicogenic headache? This is like the classical chicken and egg scenario. What came first the chicken or the egg? My guess is that the headache can be caused by either structure (joint or muscle/soft tissue) and that both structures influence one another. When the joint is tight, the muscle become tight and when the muscle is tight, the joint does not move as well.
What Evidence Based Treatment Options are Available for Cervicogenic Headache Suffers?
I find that a chiropractic adjustment helps to alleviate my neck and cervicogenic headache symptoms quite quickly. I get cervicogenic headaches periodically – once a month. When I feel that my neck is tight and stiff and a headache is coming on, I have a colleague of mine adjustment my neck and upper back area. Sometimes the relief is instant!
According to some of the latest research on cervicogenic headaches, the following treatments are effective. Spinal manipulation therapy two times per week for 3 weeks. Joint mobilization 8-12 treatments over 6 weeks. Deep neck flexors exercises twice daily for 6 weeks. It is important to note that there is no consistently additive benefit of combing deep neck flexor exercises and joint mobilization for cervicogenic headache. Sourced from “Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Headache Disorders in Adults – Jan 2012?
After each treatment, it is important to reassess the condition.
I hope you have found this blog educational. Remember, it is always important to rule out serious conditions which may also be a source to a headache. These conditions should be ruled out first before any treatment is commenced. Always consult your health practitioner prior to commencing any treatment. Thank you for reading my blog Headache Referring Behing My Eye.
This piece of literature comes directly from the Ontario Chiropractic Association website. This is an excellent synopsis of what chiropractic is all about.
What is Chiropractic?
One of the largest primary-contact health care professions in Ontario, chiropractic is a non-invasive, hands-on health care discipline that focuses on the neuromusculoskeletal system. Chiropractors practice a manual approach, providing diagnosis, treatment and preventive care for disorders related to the spine, pelvis, nervous system and joints. Chiropractors use a combination of treatments, all of which are predicated on the specific needs of the individual patient. After taking a complete history and diagnosing a patient, a chiropractor can develop and carry out a comprehensive treatment/management plan, recommend therapeutic exercise and other non-invasive therapies, and provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counselling.
For many conditions, such as lower back pain, chiropractic care is frequently the primary method of treatment. Where other conditions exist, chiropractic care may complement or support medical treatment by relieving the neuromusculoskeletal aspects associated with the condition. Chiropractic care may also be used to provide symptomatic relief for patients with chronic conditions. According to patient surveys, by treating the neuromusculoskeletal elements of such disorders, chiropractic treatment has been shown to improve the general well-being of the patient.
There are many reasons to seek chiropractic care:
Strains and sprains
Repetitive strain injury (RSI)
Work and sports injuries
Limited range of motion in the back, shoulder, neck or limbs
General health and well-being
Chiropractic is a regulated health profession, recognized by statute in all Canadian provinces and American states. Almost 2 million patients in Ontario rely on chiropractic care every year to help them live healthy, active lives.