Why can neck pain cause vertigo, dizziness and/or headaches
There have many different hypotheses for this conundrum over the past few decades. Few have stood the test of scientific rigor. Below are a few that have:
1) Proprioception. This occurs more often in acute traumas like whiplash from car accidents. Where the damage in a joint or tissue can lead to abnormal afferent input into the vestibular nucleus. In turn disturbing vestibular input. In normal terms it kinks the balance link between the inner ear, brain and muscles. This is times by 10 due to the fact we have significantly more proprioceptors in the upper cervical joints then any other joint in your body.
2) Sympathetic dysfunction. Your sympathetic part of your autonomic nervous system controls the survival mechanism of our body hence the "fight or flight". When damage occurs to your cervical spine it may stimulate sympathetic nerve fibres changing blood volume in the vestibular arteries supplying the brain stem. Hence constricting blood vessels in the vertebro-basilar system resulting in dizziness and/or vertigo. We have many of these sympathetic nerve plexuses around our spinal column.
3) An obstruction in the vertebral artery. A stenotic obstruction in this artery can lead to all of the above symptoms. Neck rotation can block this artery leading to VBI (vertebral artery insufficiency).
4) Cervicogenic vertigo associated with chronic migraines. The trigeminal nerve which is one of the cranil nerves has reciprocal connections to the vestibular nuclei. The trigeminal nerve innervates a lot of the upper cervical area in which could be an explanation to the symptoms stated above
• Correct your posture: think tall all the time, avoid sitting and holding your head up with your hands. • Consider your ergonomics especially your computer set up and how you use your digital devices. In particular, avoid a forward chin position and sustained head and neck rotation. • Learn to breathe properly: gentle breathing in and out through the nose with movement occurring at the solar plexus not in the shoulder region. Breathing should be silent and invisible. You should feel the sides of your chest wall expanding as you breathe in, not your shoulders rising or your belly expanding. • Manage your stress levels, you may need to start a meditation practice. There are many great apps (e.g.- head space, smiling mind etc) to help you get started. This is particularly important if you clench or grind your teeth. • Get adequate sleep. Aim to sleep with your head in a neutral position not rotated or side flexed. Aim for an absolute minimum of 8 hours every night. • Eat clean food: avoid processed food, excess alcohol and coffee. Eat plenty of vegetables! • Drink a lot of water (at least 33ml per kg of body weight / day) add an extra 250ml for every caffeinated drink (such as coffee) you have. • Avoid carrying anything other than a very light bag on your shoulder • Avoid extending the head / looking up for long periods • Watch the position of your head while exercising – ensure you maintain a neutral head position, (i.e. – not look up or around). • Do not over do it when exercising particularly when using your arms and upper body.
Chronic PainPain is NORMAL. It is the body’s way of alerting us to what it thinks is DANGER. The interesting thing about pain is that we don’t actually experience pain until our brain interprets a signal from the body as being pain. It is important to accept that YOUR PAIN IS REAL – IT IS NOT IN YOUR HEAD!! There are many things that contribute toward the brain signalling pain: Thoughts Fears Past experiences Family issues; My mother has cancer could this be what is happening to me?, Who will look after the family? Work issues; Will I have to have time off? , How much money will I lose? Anxiety/stress can increase the sensitivity of the nervous system Exercise can help turn down pain signals by releasing chemicals that help to quieten the nervous system. All of these things make a difference as to whether or not your brain will interpret the signals from the body as pain. The important thing to understand is that the brain can still signal pain long after the original injury in the tissues has healed. When you initially have an injury, signals are sent to the brain to alert it to danger. The brain then interprets the signal, remember factors mentioned above will play a role in the brain interpreting the signal, and this is where the pain experience starts. This is all necessary so that you don’t go and do anything which may injure you further. However these messages can persist and lead to chronic pain.
Chronic pain is when you continue to experience pain long after the original injury has healedThis is due to central sensitisation. This is when the brain sends chemicals to the spinal cord to meet the signals coming from the tissues. These chemicals can be excitatory, which means they multiply the signals coming from the tissues and therefore send a much stronger signal to the brain then the original signal from the tissues. The brain can also send messages to the tissues to release more inflammatory substances – the body thinks it can heals faster this way, but doesn’t know when to turn off this inflammatory process. This type of inflammation is not helped by medication and explains why there can still be inflammation present many months later. This causes the nerves to become hypersensitive and send earlier and more signals to the brain, again this is an over sensitivity of the nervous system. Over time, the cycle continues which results in increasing sensitivity of the brain and therefore more and more pain. Pain can become a habit – your body anticipates and remembers it and it takes very little to trigger it, sometimes when things are really bad even thinking about moving can trigger the pain. The brain has lost its ability to differentiate between painful and non painful input, so just to be safe it triggers everything as pain. The brain has also lost its ability to distinguish between body parts so you may find your pain spreading or moving. The good news here is there is no damage in the tissues causing the pain, it is just that the brain is so used to feeling the pain that it continues to signal even though the damage has healed. It is the sensitivity of the nervous system that is causing this. The important things to understand is that PAIN DOES NOT EQUAL DAMAGE!! The solution is to make the brain understand that there is no longer any damage in the tissues and it is time to desensitise. We can do this through a graduated return to normal activity.
TAKE CONTROL1. Any new injury or disease requires a prompt medical examination. 2. Understand any prescribed help. Ask for appropriate scientific evidence supporting what is offered to you. 3. Make goals that both you and your clinician understand. Aim for physical, social and work goals, which allow your progress to be measured.
Water is the basis of all life, in fact we can only survive for 3 days without water.• We are made up of 75 % water: the brain is 80% water and the blood which transports all the nutrients around the body is 82% water • This water gets rationed differently to various parts of the body with the brain getting absolute priority. The brain is 1/50th of your total body weight but receives 20% of the blood circulation. • Our health is entirely dependent on the quality and quantity of water we drink • If the water supply is running low the brain will cry out for help. What is the body’s warning signal? – PAIN! • Water is essential for all the chemical reactions that occur in our body ALL OF THEM – nothing works properly if we don’t have enough water! Water is our primary source of energy, it is essential for life.
There are so many great ideas that can be used to infuse water.How about trying one of these?
Upper Crossed Syndrome
What is it? And how can Remedial Massage help?Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS) is an extremely common musculoskeletal imbalance of the upper body. It is usually caused by poor posture or repetitive tasks in prolonged standing or sitting positions. As a consequence certain muscles become chronically tight, while others become long and weak. This muscular imbalance results in rounded shoulders/upper back, winging/tipping shoulder blades, and a forward head position with a poking out chin. The muscles affected in this common syndrome are the Pectoralis Major and Minor muscles in the chest, the Sub-Occipital muscles at the base of the skull and Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapulae in the upper shoulder/neck which all become overactive, short and tight. This excessive shortening of muscles causes an imbalance between muscles groups. Muscles such as Mid-Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids and Serratus Anterior of the upper back and the deep cervical flexors in the neck therefore become underactive, long and weak. The musculoskeletal imbalances of UCS can result in an array of pain or discomfort presentations. For example mid- upper back pain/tightness, neck pain/tightness, headaches, or pins and needles down the arms, just to name a few. Also overtime if untreated, these muscular imbalances can affect the position of the skeletal system leading to other chronic conditions such as shoulder instability, shoulder impingement and shoulder bursitis. Luckily Remedial Massage and correctly prescribed exercises can dramatically help with this condition. Remedial Therapists can use their skills in soft tissue work to release the tight, short and overactive muscles, and can give simple homework stretches/exercises. This is extremely important for while these large powerful muscles such as the Pecs or Upper traps remain tight, it is very challenging to properly strengthen the weak muscle groups. Remedial Therapists can also use techniques to stimulate the long, weak and underactive muscles encouraging them to activate and strengthen. Remedial Massage can be used as an effective complementary treatment for UCS, alongside Physiotherapy allowing the exercises prescribed by Physios to be most effective. If you feel like you relate to any of these symptoms, don’t wait, find the time to care for yourself and book some Remedial treatment today so you can move and feel your best!
Let massage help you through the winter SeasonFor most of us winter means hot drinks, extra layers of clothing, more hours spent in doors and therefore less physical activity and for some a case of the winter blues as the sun sets earlier and the air gets cooler. The good news is that massage therapy can be a great tool to help you through the season.
The benefits of massage in winter:
It will boost you immune system:The winter months can often bring an influx of colds and flu's, so it’s extra important to have a healthy functioning immune system to fight off these viruses. Being less active in the winter months can also mean poorer lymphatic flow, which means less circulation of the body’s white blood cells. White blood cells are what help your body fight away infections and disease. Studies have shown that massage encourages the flow of your lymphatic system, and therefore white blood cells. The more white blood cells circulating, the stronger your immune system and the less likely you are to get a cold/flu this winter!
It will encourage circulation:In cold weather muscles contract to conserve heat, which constricts blood flow and therefore delivers less oxygen and nutrients to our muscles. This also makes it more difficult for cellular waste and toxin removal. This restriction of blood flow decreases muscle health and function, and at times causes aches and stiffness. Luckily the soft tissue manipulation that is used in massage therapy is a brilliant way to increase circulation and improve your health.
It will keep away those winter blues:For some the colder weather can bring upon stress or feelings of being ‘low’ or ‘under the weather’. One of the beauties about massage is that it releases serotonin and endorphin's, which are hormones that relieve stress/sadness and make you naturally feel happy.
Don’t let the winter blues get you down this season, feel good and get a massage today!
What Causes neck pain?
- Poor posture: Ligaments become overstretched, muscles become tired and joints and nerves are put under strain. Slouching your shoulders with your head forward, sleeping in awkward positions, or working with your head down for long periods can all cause neck pain.
- Stress: Increases tension in the muscles.
- Arthritis: degeneration in the joints of the neck.
- Injuries from motor vehicle accidents, sport or occupational accidents commonly lead to whiplash where the head is thrown forward or backward.
How to prevent neck pain
- Posture: Think tall, lift your chest, relax your shoulders, tuck your chin in and keep your head level. Remember the posture around your pelvis is important too.
- Sleeping: A down or molded pillow is usually best. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Relaxation: Learn to recognize when you are tense, relax your shoulders, avoid clenching your jaw, and take a few deep breaths.
- Heat: A heat pack on your neck will help to alleviate muscle spasm.
- Work: Avoid holding your neck in one position for long periods. Stretch and change position frequently, even if it is just a few shoulder rolls.
- Exercise: Keep your neck joints and muscles flexible and strong by performing the exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist as part of your daily routine.
Five ways to tell if your headache is caused by your neck ?
- Does your pain start at the top of your neck and then spread around to the front of your head?
- Does moving your neck make the pain worse?
- Does prolonged sitting make your headache worse?
- Do you have light headedness or dizziness?
- Is your headache eased by pressure to the base of the skull?
- Check your posture, think tall. Your shoulders should be relaxed, your chin tucked in and your head level. Your neck should feel straight and relaxed.
- Check your sitting position: especially if you are in a sustained position for long periods. You may need to stretch frequently throughout the day.
- Check your pillow: A memory foam pillow is best for most people. Do not use more than one pillow.
- Relax: watch that you are not clenching your teeth, or hunching your shoulders. Learn to recognize when you are tense and learn how to relax. Taking deep breaths or applying a heat pack to the tense muscles may help.
- Exercise: You need to keep your muscles and joints flexible and strong. You will be prescribed an exercise program that is appropriate for you.
MaryWhy do you love Pilates? Pilates is great for my overall health and well being. When I do Pilates I feel strong in both the mind and body.
Why work at Pottsville and Cabarita Physiotherapy? It is a privilege to be part of such a wonderful team and to see the wonderful work the physios do. To be able to witness the change in people's lives as they progress along the road to recovery is very rewarding. I have been working at Pottsville and Cabarita Physio for 9 years now and I've lost count of how many wonderful people I've had the chance to meet along the way. It's nice to walk down the street and say "Hello" to so many familiar faces. As an added bonus I get to ride my bike to work! Best relaxation tip Sitting at the beach or creek with a good book where I can also have a dip in the ocean to freshen up. Best lifestyle tip Getting out of bed early for a brisk walk to get the blood pumping and clear the head is a great way to start the day. Get plenty of sleep and eat lots of fresh food. Favourite activity My favourite thing in the world is spending quality time with my family. It could be swimming at the beach/creek, sporting activities or just hanging out at home together. Favourite recipe I don't really have a favourite recipe but anything that's quick and easy is great. Lots of BBQ's with fresh salad. A typical Sunday Waking up early to go for a walk on the beach, followed by breakfast then time with my family which could be going to the creek/beach, sport, helping with school assignments or out for a bite to eat. Then it's getting ready for the week ahead.