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What a Pain in the Neck!

Thursday, 12 May 2016
What a Pain in the Neck!

Most people may have experienced back pain. In fact about 3 million Australians experience some form of back pain! It has been estimated that 70-90% of us will suffer from lower back pain alone at some point in our lives.*

Spinal problems are due to a number of causes which include:

  • Poor mobility
  • Poor posture
  • Weakness of supporting musculature
  • Muscle imbalances

With increases in sedentary lifestyle – prolonged sitting and physical inactivity also increase reported pain and discomfort in the spine.

Poor mobility

Poor or reduced mobility through the spine can make it difficult to adopt a neutral and healthy spine. Exercises that increase flexibility and mobility can help to reduce pain and make it easier to keep your neck and spine in a healthy position. Often tight muscles can cause imbalances in movements of the spine. It’s important to ensure that the muscle and joints are stretched appropriately to maintain mobility in the spine.

It’s also important to realize that tightness of the surrounding muscles can greatly affect pain and discomfort in the spine. In the neck – ensure the chest, neck and shoulders are stretched to promote a relaxed and neutral posture.

Around the lower back, ensuring the hip, hamstrings (back of thigh), quadriceps (front of thigh) and buttocks are stretched can assist with improved mobility through the spine. Muscles must be both flexible and strong to support the spine and complete the correct movements during day to day activities.


Poor Posture:

Awkward postures places additional stress on the body which can lead to pain and discomfort. Poor sitting and standing postures such as slouching and leaning forward at the neck puts the body out of alignment. Repeating these poor postures regularly can cause the body adapt, and remain in those postures, putting additional strain on the spine and surrounding structures.

Too much bending of the spine, or straightening of the spine increases not only the chance of pain and discomfort, but injury as well.

Prevention of spinal pain, especially of the neck, has a lot to do with keeping a balanced and neutral position of the spine. What’s important to realize that the spine, should not be ‘straight’, the spine is balanced and neutral when it can maintain its natural curvature.

From a side view of the body – the spine should look like below:

  • Cervical spine (curves slightly inwards)
  • Thoracic spine (curves slightly outwards)
  • Lumbar spine (curves slightly inwards)
  • In standing, the ear and ankle should aline. In sitting, the ear and hip.

Check your posture regularly while at work. Perhaps check and correct your posture each time the phone rings or email arrives in your inbox!


References:
* www.aihw.gov.au/back-problems/what-are-back-problems

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Dr Ramsey Jabbour

Ramsey graduated in 2001 from University College London, in the United Kingdom. He subsequently worked as a junior doctor in various hospitals in the South East of England. He then trained as a General Practitioner gaining a distinction in his GP UK membership exams.

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