That shoulder pain may really be a pain in the neck

There’s a reason why Dr. Jeff Manning of Manning Wellness Clinic is the go-to chiropractic health expert in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. As a knowledgeable professional with more than 15 years of clinical experience, Dr. Manning is known for his ability to talk honestly and openly to his patients; answer questions in a easy-to-understand style; and teach the benefits of chiropractic. Please read below where Dr. Manning talks about that pain in your shoulder that may really be a pain in the neck. 

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SPECIAL FOCUS: BACK AND JOINT HEALTH

By DAPHNE HOWLAND

Special Contributor to the Dallas Morning News

Published: 04 November 2013 04:03 PM

For months, 52-year-old David Moen tried to relieve excruciating pain between his shoulder blades. Hot baths helped, but one day the bath and the heat went on too long, and he suffered heatstroke. That sent him to the doctor.“I suspected I had rotator cuff injuries. It was getting to the point where the pain was debilitating. It was putting me in a foul mood,” says Moen, who lives in Bedford. “I never thought it was a neck injury.”Neither did his doctor — at first. But as Moen’s case shows, the intricate working relationships among the tendons, muscles and nerves of the neck and shoulders mean that a pain in the neck could be a shoulder injury — and vice versa.Moen isn’t sure how he was hurt or even when the pain started exactly. It may have been a motorcycle accident in the mid-1990s, or just his tendency as a former Marine to work hard lifting heavy loads despite pain or strain. About two years ago, the pain started but bothered him only when he did heavy work. As time went on, the pain worsened and took longer and longer to subside.Complicating Moen’s diagnosis were his problems with carpal tunnel syndrome. When he grabbed his motorcycle handlebars, his hands went numb. He’s worked at Bell Helicopter in Hurst for 27 years, sitting at a table that was never meant to be used as a desk.A doctor suspected the carpal tunnel issues could be causing his upper back and shoulder pain, but an MRI revealed a severe neck injury. Surgery to his C5 and C6 neck vertebrae have finally alleviated the pain in his shoulders.“We call the shoulder ‘the great pretender’ because it has a complicated structure of nerves and tendons,” says Dr. Carla L. Young, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. “It’s important to tease out the cause because the treatments are different.”

Common complaint

Pain in the neck and shoulder is extremely common because their complex workings are vulnerable to age-related changes, poor posture, lack of exercise and stress.

Degenerative disk disease, an ominous term, happens to everyone starting about age 20. Disks, which cushion the vertebrae, aren’t able to hold as much water, which makes them more delicate, Young says. Meanwhile, tendons in the shoulder’s rotator cuff start changing about age 40.

As those parts lose resilience, stressors like underuse or overuse of muscles and tendons and even emotional stress can cause strain or injury.

DSC_0089Posture is the problem for most people, says Jeffrey Manning, a chiropractor who owns the Manning Wellness Clinic in Dallas. “People look down at their computer, their phones. So the muscles in the front of the neck will start to become shortened and less flexible, and across the shoulder blades they’ll become stretched, but not in a good way. It’s like trees leaning into the wind.”

This begins a cycle that can change joints and bones as they react naturally to the physical demand. “Good stress, like healthy exercise, strengthens bones. But if you stress bones in an imbalanced way, they react in an imbalanced way, and that messes up the mechanical balance of the working joint,” Manning says.

The stress of busy, complicated lives or the emotional toll of bad days or sad life events are often manifested in stiff muscles in the neck and shoulders. Stress hormones worsen the problem, Young says.

“Your muscles get knotted up by very real physical tenseness,” Young says. “But the stress is twofold: Your stress does tend to be carried in the form of shortened muscles in the neck but it also changes the biochemical markers in the body. The same chemicals that are released when you are in stress or in pain are fuel for the pain of muscle tension.”

When to see a doctor

Moen says he wishes he’d gone to a doctor after six months of suffering rather than two years. But Young says to go after more like six weeks.

For one thing, she says, studies show that chronic pain can rewire the brain so that discomfort continues even after the cause is resolved. Plus, many issues can be addressed with conservative measures such as physical therapy, ergonomic changes to the workplace, exercises, modified activity and medication — as long as the problem is accurately diagnosed and caught early.

For stiffness without pain, seeing a doctor may not be necessary. But it’s probably a signal to make changes, these experts say: Be sure you work at a computer with your neck in a neutral position. Exercise regularly; the blood flow helps keep muscles and tendons healthy. Don’t constantly look down at your phone; look up and enjoy the scenery.

“It may start out as a posture issue. Then after six months or a year it becomes a matter of the joints just not working properly anymore,” Manning says. “Your body is such an intricate machine.”

Schedule your FREE phone consultation with Dr. Manning

Schedule your FREE phone consultation with Dr. Manning

Tech-Neck: Expert Offers Tips for Reducing and Avoiding Pain and Injury

Dr. Jeff Manning, a leading expert on a new technology-related discomfort called ‘tech-neck’, is featured in an interview on WFAA-TV in Dallas.

Click to watch:  Tech-neck is a growing problem, but Chiropractic can help

Tips from Dr. Jeff Manning, Manning Wellness Clinic; How to Reduce or Prevent Handheld Device Related Pain:

 

  • Limit the amount of time and frequency that you use your device. If you have to use it for an extended period of time, take breaks. Rule of thumb: Take a 5-minute break for every 15 minutes you use your device, and don’t type for more than 3 minutes straight.  Get up and walk around to stretch your muscles. One simple exercise is to tilt your head to one side (ear to shoulder) then to the other side, back to neutral, turn to look all the way to the right, then left.  Back to neutral, then lean head back and back to neutral.  Do all without raising shoulders. Don’t stretch forward…this only accentuates the poor posture your trying to avoid. Do it slowly, without straining. Repeat.

 

  • Be aware of your posture.  Pay attention to how you hold your device. Try to keep your wrists straight and upright. Loosen your grip when possible.  Alternate the fingers you use to type; if you most often use your thumbs, try to switch to your index finger as it allows you to keep the hands more relaxed.

 

  • Use a tablet holder: There are many on the market, but all have the common goal of securing the tablet at a height that is designed to reduce your need to keep your head bent down and forward. Keeping your device at eye-level will help to reduce neck pain and possible damage. It can also prevent what is know as “text-neck” or head-forward posture.
  • Listen to your body: If you are experiencing pain in your neck, back, shoulders, hand…or eye-strain, pay attention. Those aches and pains have a source, and in this case, it may be technology.  Overuse of handheld devices can also exacerbate an existing or old injury so be aware of what you are feeling. Don’t’ fall into the trap of, ‘If I ignore it, maybe it will go away’.
  • Seek help: If you are experiencing discomfort, don’t wait, seek professional help.

 

 

Dr. Jeffrey Manning, DC

Manning Wellness Clinic

2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202

Dallas, TX 75204

214-720-2225

www.manningwellness.com

 

 

 

 

Stress: No Two Chiropractic Patients are ever the Same

 

Think about you feel when you’re stressed: Are you in pain? Do your muscles tighten? Do you eat more or less? Is your stomach in knots? Are you short of breath? Are you forgetful? Sad? Though our symptoms differ, one thing remains the same: Our bodies feel the impact of stress and one way or another, our bodies will tell us they need help. Without help, the stress, not unlike black mold, will invade our systems. It is well documented that high levels of stress can contribute to heart disease, cancer, headaches, ulcers, digestive disturbances, backaches and nearly every other condition known to mankind.

Stress is a nervous system reaction that causes your heart to beat faster, your muscles to be tense, your stomach to tighten, and your hair follicles to stand up, all as a way to prepare your body for an emergency. When you interpret a situation as stressful, whether it truly is or not, your brain triggers this reaction by sending a signal over your spinal cord and nervous system to every cell of your body.

Where your body breaks down from stress may depend on whether or not you have a condition known as vertebral subluxation. A vertebral subluxation is a spinal injury that interferes with the normal function of your nervous system which can affect your health on every level whether you have symptoms or not. If you have this in your spine, your body is already pre-stressed.

Some people deal with stress through deep breathing, meditation, exercise and healthy food choices–all very good things to do as part of your lifestyle to counter-balance stress, but if your nervous system is pre-stressed, the slightest deviation from the perfect stress management plan can send you into a frustrating, uncomfortable, or painful tailspin. Removing this pre-stress causing subluxation can improve your resistance to daily stressors dramatically.

Research shows that it only takes the weight of a dime to reduce nerve transmission. Additional research has found that nerve compression can exist without pain and can cause deterioration within two weeks.

In this pre-stressed condition, your body becomes more vulnerable to outside stresses while other people may be much more resistant. The location of the subluxation can determine what types of symptoms, if any, you experience. For example, someone with nerve interference in the upper part of the neck might feel headaches, have allergies, or a stiff neck. Because the nerves fibers that come out of the upper neck also go to the entire body, pressure here can literally cause or mimic nearly every symptom or disease you can name.

Interference to the nerve supply in the lower back can cause a backache, leg problems and also affect ovary, prostate, bladder or bowel function. Interference to the nerves in the middle of your back can affect your heart and lungs or cause tension, stomach problems, digestive disturbances and discomfort.

“I have adjusted patients who have come in for lower-back pain, but then reported to me that they were able to sleep better…or no longer felt numbness in their fingers…or in a recent case, my female patient reported that her menstrual cycle seemed to be ‘kick-started’ after being adjusted,” reports Dr. Jeff Manning, DC, of the Manning Wellness Clinic in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Manning adds, “Although that patient was shocked, I wasn’t; I know that removing interference within the body can have incredible, widespread results in fertility and health overall.”

The scary part is that like most serious conditions, vertebral subluxations can cause stress for decades without any symptoms. This is when serious problems occur, many of which could have been avoided by eliminating this pre-stressed condition right away. The birth process, childhood falls, sports injuries and poor lifestyle habits are just a few causes of subluxations. Rather than getting to the cause and removing this underlying problem, many people attempt to chase their symptoms away with drugs, or another type of quick fix, and then wonder why their condition returns. Removing the cause and optimizing the function of your nervous system is a better immediate and long-term plan.

Regardless or your symptoms, a chiropractic examination can locate pre-stressed areas in your spine that may be affecting your health on every level.

Crisis care–only receiving care when you are hurt–is one way to deal with stress, but a much better option is to remove the subluxation and stress from your body and keep it as a part of your lifestyle. This will help you to reduce stress, increase activity and happiness, live more, and enjoy the quality of life you deserve.

 

(Excerpts from TFP, Inc and www.100yearlifestyle.com.)

Between Chiropractic Visits: Avoiding Back Pain at Work

How to Work Without Back Pain

Is sitting at your desk making you feel stiff and creaky, like you’re 100 years old? You can’t ditch the job, but you can make some small changes so you can get through the day with less pain. You are definitely not alone; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a whopping 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses are work-related musculoskeletal disorder, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tendonitis and lower back pain.

Dr. Jeff Manning, DC, owner of Manning Wellness Clinic in Dallas, TX,  offers the following tips to stop your workstation from giving you any undue stress.

Adjust your desk height:  “If you are raising your arm up just to reach your keyboard and mouse, it puts your body in an unnatural position and can easily contribute to neck, shoulder and arm pain, 3 of the most common symptoms my patients report,”  says Dr. Manning. The ideal position for sitting and typing is when your arms form a 90- to 110-degree angle. If you need to flex your wrists up to meet your keyboard, raise your chair height or sit on a pillow. Just be sure that your feet aren’t left dangling. “Buy or create a footrest–even a cardboard box will do– so that your feet can rest on something,” Dr. Manning says.

Get connected:  If you spend time typing or searching for information online, while talking on the phone, a headset is a must. Cradling a phone between your shoulder and chin can put serious strain in your neck. “Again, this is an unnatural position causing excessive muscle contractions and reduced blood flow to the muscles,” explains Dr. Manning. If a headset is not an option, at the very least, make sure to switch the phone from side to side to even things out.” There are devices you can attach to the phone to make cradling it more comfortable, but Dr. Manning warns, “These do not significantly change the position of the neck and can give a person a false sense of security. ”

Get up and move: While dancing around your desk is not the best option, any movement–even a short walk–will do your body good.  Sitting in one place for an extended period of time puts strain on your muscles. “When you’re sitting for a long time, your back muscles tend to deactivate, which leads to poor posture and in time, to back pain,” says Dr. Manning. And he adds, “The lack of muscle activation in your back can also lead to shoulder and neck pain, a common complaint of many people who sit at a desk all day. Sitting in a slumped position creates tension in your shoulders and can overstretch your spinal ligaments, causing strain on the discs.”  Try to note the time and stand or stretch hourly. You can add shoulder and wrist rolls to keep things properly moving. To do shoulder rolls, sit or stand comfortably erect, and slowly roll your shoulders forward in large circles three or four times. Then reverse direction. Simple move, but it works wonders.

Uncross your legs: “I see patients often times who have much tighter muscles on one side of their body, and the pain is especially evident in their lower backs. In some cases, I even see rotation of the pelvis as a result of the strained muscles,” says Dr. Manning. “When we go over their patient history, they’ll say that they can’t pinpoint anything that would cause the problems. But with questioning, they’ll’ admit to sitting at their desks for hours, favoring one leg crossed over the other. If it’s the same leg over and over, that side of the body will show the effects.” Dr. Manning says it’s best to sit with your legs on the floor or on a small box rather than crossed. He suggests, “Put a Post-it note on your computer to remind yourself….that’s how important it is to uncross.”

Dr. Jeff Manning, DC, is the owner of Manning Wellness Clinic,  a top-rated comprehensive chiropractic clinic located in the heart of Uptown/downtown Dallas. We also offer massage therapy, acupuncture, and hypnosis. 
Manning Wellness Clinic
2702 McKinney Avenue, suite 202
Dallas, TX 75204
214-720-2225