In a back or neck pain episode the person who suffers always tries to pinpoint why it happened. More often than not there isn’t a simple answer. Back and neck pain occurs due a number of different reasons but the reason can always be categorised into one of the following:
Poor posture is one of the most common reasons for neck pain. A huge percentage of the population have rounded shoulders and a forward head carriage. This posture increases the force that goes through the neck from the head by up to 5kg. It is then only a matter of time before the joints, muscles, and ligaments in the neck become overloaded and start to inflame and cause pain.
Trauma itself does not only have to compromise from one injury alone such as a car accident. It is actually more common for people to have the problem due to repetitive micro-traumas. This is where the body undergoes little injuries over an extended period of time. These injuries can be tiny events such as not lifting correctly, or not bending your back when you’re picking up something from the floor. These little things build up and eventually lead to a bigger problem.
Stress can cause a problem and can amplify problems that are already there. In episodes of stress we tend to focus more on our painful areas, which intensifies the pain (see pain gate theory). As well as making a problem worse, in episodes of stress we tend to tense our muscles, particularly those of the jaw and around the shoulders. When these muscles are tensed for long periods of time they become fatigued and eventually develop tight points in the muscles. These muscles can then become painful and affect other areas of the body such as the joints, ligaments, and potentially the nerves.
The cause of neck and back pain obviously isn’t quite as simple as most people would like it to be. The best way to prevent an episode is to:
- Improve posture. Try some home exercises provided by your chiropractor or attend a yoga or pilates class.
- Reduce trauma. It goes without saying to try to avoid car accidents but try to lift and do the little things correctly.
- Chill out. Just try to relax, if you are having a really stressful period then have some time for yourself. Go get a massage or just try to relax your muscles. You don’t need to be putting up with pain as well as the other stress in your life!
As well as the above, chiropractic treatment can help prevent problems from occurring or reoccurring as well as getting rid of a painful episode. Maintenance treatment is usually done periodically to check all the joints, muscles, and nerves are in check so that you can spend the rest of your time not thinking about back pain.