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Torticollis is a condition where a joint or disk is injured and you can’t move your neck. Sometimes the head is bent or turned a little to one side. And sometimes you’re straight but can barely move in any direction. This type of problem is usually caused by a disk injury. Whiplash can cause this condition or it can come on by sleeping in an awkward way.

The spine is meant to move a lot, especially the neck. This is so we can quickly look around, above, and below. When the spine cannot be moved without intense pain, it’s a sign of both a joint and nerve problem. The nerve may be pinched or compressed, stretched, or irritated by chemicals from inflammation/swelling. To protect the nerve, the body puts a splint on it with muscle spasm. This keeps you from moving your head.

If the joint injury is reduced, by aligning the bones of the spine, the healing and scar tissue will stabilize the area in alignment. If the joint is left out of alignment or is hypermobile, this can lead to future degeneration. To get the joint moving and functioning normally again, you need to have motion through the joint adjustment, and exercises to keep activated.

One study showed that patients who wear foam collars after whiplash, do worse than patients who were actively mobilized without collars. It may at first seem counterintuitive to move when pain is there, but it’s all about moving within your pain tolerances. Usually small motions are still preserved. Instead many patients wear collars or do not move their neck enough. This causes the muscles to become more inflexible and contracted. Overtime it can lead to substantial weakness and even atrophy (wasting away).

So even in the early stages of a whiplash, when the neck can barely move at all, small movements that are not painful are encouraged. The specific adjustment will reduce the irritation to the nerve that is signaling the muscles to spasm. Once the nerve is freed, then the muscle will usually release. Greater ranges of movement will follow as the body allows. This should not be hurried because the nerve and disk is at risk for re-injury in the very early stages of healing.

Medications and surgery will not correct the alignment of the spine. When the joint is sprained, it needs to be re-aligned to reduce the tension on the ligaments and disk. At Desired Health Chiropractic in Anoka, we can help you every step of the way after a car accident. We will help you feel better and get your medical claims paid with ease so you can get back to living your life. Call us today for a free consultation- 763-205-6192.

A neck injury such as a pulled muscle or a “knot” in the muscle is something we’ve all experienced. These little aches and pains usually go away on their own, or with a little massage from a loved one. But sometimes the neck injury is more substantial, such as in a whiplash or sports injury. In these cases, the ligaments such as the disk can be injured, and the nerves can be inflamed and irritated as well.

The long-term course for neck pain is not good. Patients continue to suffer years later. One study looked at outcomes after five years and found that about 50% of patients continued to have pain and disability.

When the ligaments and muscles of the cervical spine are injured, the patient may guard their movements and not use certain muscles. This can lead to muscle weakness over time. As the neck muscles go, so goes the rest of the spine, or at least that’s what recent research shows. The investigators looked at a specific exercise that used the core trunk muscles. They followed the neck pain patients for two years and found that those with neck pain tended to get trunk muscle dysfunction, and eventually low back pain.

Following traumatic injuries to the neck, it is important to have a proper examination. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting you the treatment you need.

One study has shown that early intervention (within 4 days) in whiplash injury gave patients more relief, when compared to delayed (14 days) treatment.

As discussed above, many patients become chronic and have long-term pain after neck injuries. Others will develop secondary low back pain two years down the road. Because of these long-term effects, it is important to treat neck injuries in a serious manner. Ice will usually not be sufficient. These mechanical types of problems are also not correctable through medications and neck collars.

Specific chiropractic care following sprains to the neck may move the joints into better alignment and ease tension on the tissues. Mobility disorders such as limited range can also be improved with specific adjustments. As the joints begin to move more normally, exercises can be added to improve strength and range of motion. By treating neck problems appropriately and early on, the patient will be afforded the best chance for long-term success.

At Desired Health Chiropractic in Anoka, we can help you every step of the way after a car accident. We will help you feel better and get your medical claims paid with ease so you can get back to living your life. Call us today for a free consultation- 763-205-6192.

Whiplash pain can be much different from other types of injuries. When a car accident is severe, the pain will come on right away. If the injury produces a mild or moderate sprain, sometimes it takes a few days for the pain and inflammation to reach its maximum. Sometimes it is stiffness that is the prominent symptom and the patient notices this in the first few weeks after the accident. The delay in pain is often seen in low speed collisions where typically there is very less damage to the vehicles.

There are a lot of factors that determine the extent of injury following a low speed whiplash. One of these is the neck posture prior to impact. Was the head turned? This can occur if the patient was looking at the rear view mirror during the collision. Low speed collisions can occur in parking lots. If the patient was turned to see if a space was clear, this can make a simple trauma result in a significant injury.

Besides the position of the patient prior to the collision, the speed and amount of vehicle damage are sometimes good criteria for the severity of the trauma. However, it may not be in many cases because of crumple zones. Cars are built with crumple zones. These areas are crushed during the collision and absorb the energy of impact. In some low speed collisions, there is less crumple and more of the force is transmitted to the occupants. This is but one reason why vehicle damage won’t always equate with the spinal damage.

Another factor in whiplash is whether the head-rest was properly positioned. A proper head-rest should be close to the back of the head and its high point slightly above the top of the head. The reason for the high position is that in a rear-end collision, the patient who is being hit will rise slightly with impact. If the head- rest is too low, then the neck will bend around it like a fulcrum causing even more injury. The same thing happens if the seat is reclined too far and the head whips backwards before hitting the head-rest.

Because symptoms can come on slowly and minor vehicle damage is not a good indicator of injury, a thorough examination is required. It is important to be checked by a competent health care provider after any motor vehicle collision.

At Desired Health Chiropractic in Anoka, we can help you every step of the way after a car accident. We will help you feel better and get your medical claims paid with ease so you can get back to living your life. Call us today for a free consultation- 763-205-6192.

numb-arm-tinglingPatients who present with neck pain along with arm numbness, pain, tingling or weakness, often ask, “What is causing this pain down my arm?”

The condition is often caused from a bulging or herniated disk pinching a nerve in the neck.  The cause of this complaint can include both trauma as well as non-traumatic events. In fact, sometimes, the patient has no idea what started their condition, as they cannot tie any specific event to the onset.

The classic presentation includes neck pain that radiates into the arm in a specific area as each nerve affects different parts of the arm and hand.  Describing the exact location of the arm complaint such as, “I have numbness in the arm and hand that makes my ring finger and pinky finger feel half asleep,” tells us that you have a pinched C8 nerve.

This same nerve can also be pinched at the elbow and make the same two fingers numb.  The difference between the two conditions is when the nerve is pinched in the neck, the pain is located from the neck down the entire arm and into the hand.  When the nerve is pinched at the elbow, the pain/numbness is located from the elbow down to the hand, but no neck or upper arm pain exists.

Examination findings usually include limitations in certain neck ranges of motion – usually in the direction that increases the pinch on the nerve. To determine where the nerve is pinched, there are a number of different compression tests that can recreate or increase the symptoms.

We also do neurologic tests that include testing reflexes and muscle strength in the arm.  When a nerve is pinched, the reflexes will be sluggish or absent and certain movements in the arm are weak when compared to the opposite side.

At Desired Health Chiropractic, we do an extensive examination to determine exactly where the nerve is pinched and irritated. Our goal is to help you wake up ready to tackle your day. Call us today to see how we can help you feel better, function better, and ultimately perform better!

stiff-neck-morningLife is stressful enough during the day that it seems truly heartbreaking that many us cannot get the restorative sleep we need each night. Tossing and turning causing insomnia is an epidemic in the U.S., but worse, some of us wake up with actual pain and stiffness. What a way to start the day.

Sometimes it’s the mattress being too soft or unsupportive. Or maybe the too thick hotel pillow has gotten your number. Sleep posture is very critical to spinal health. The neck has a forward arch, and this has to be preserved for there to be maximal relaxation of the spinal cord and nerves. Also the head needs to be supported when turning to side sleeping. The pillow needs to be thick enough so that the head does not fall towards the shoulder, stretching the muscles and delicate nerves on the side of the neck.

You need to rest your spine each night so that the tissues can repair and heal. It is important that muscles are able to relax, and that the bones of the neck are not placed into abnormal postures. Ever fall asleep on an armrest of a sofa, or in a car or plane?

Most of us have experienced the stiffness that comes with this. But some of us have spinal bones that are already sprained and displaced from old injuries, which means good sleeping posture is even more critical. Simply a minor change from our usual bed or pillow is enough to make for a stiff neck in the morning. Or perhaps you thought a stiff neck in the morning was normal because it has gone on for years.

One of the more common problems for morning stiffness is neck and body position. Stomach sleeping is a definite no. In this position, the neck will be twisted excessively. The best positions will be side lying with adequate head support, or flat on the back with a proper neck-support pillow. These types of pillows allow the cushion to push upwards into the curve of the neck, while the head is cradled. Usually pillows are simply too thick and these can cause the neck to be in a forward stressed position which stretches the nerves and spinal cord.

If you are waking up with a stiff neck, then it is vitally important to get your neck and upper back evaluated for proper posture and alignment. At Desired Health Chiropractic we analyze body structure and movement patterns to see if there is extra stress being put on the neck.

Our goal is to help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your day. Call us today to see how we can help you feel better, function better, and ultimately perform better!

Headaches-stretchingFor many patients with health conditions, exercising seems to be the furthest thing from their mind. For migraine sufferers, exercise itself can be a provocation for initiating a headache episode. And if you already have a headache, just the idea of going for a three mile run will likely increase your pain, not lessen it.

But exercise is an integral component to overall health and that includes people who suffer from headaches too.

The key is to exercise when you are headache free, to manage your exercises so that your spine is not excessively stressed, and make sure you have good flexibility of your spine before you begin loading it with exercises.

This is where chiropractic enters the picture. Your spinal flexibility is integral to maintaining good posture and assuring nerve impulses transmit freely from your brain to distant areas of the body. If you have a spinal problem, or subluxation, this may interrupt the free transmission of nerve impulses and make you susceptible to headache.

You may want to consider getting adjusted before a strenuous exercise to make sure you have good spinal flexibility. After performing a strenuous activity, it may also be a good time to have your spine checked. Little by little, your spinal muscles will regain strength and you may find your headaches a less dominant part of your life.

Other points to consider are getting adequate rest/sleep and to avoid overtraining because sleep deprivation can provoke a headache. You will also need to pay attention to water intake. Being dehydrated may also be a trigger for people with headaches. The bottom line is this: if you get the spinal care you need, if you watch strenuous movements that strain the spine, and if you get adequate rest and sleep, then you can begin exercising again despite your chronic headaches. Many patients with headaches say that stress is a trigger for their pain. Regular exercise can be a great way to deal with the stresses of work. Exercise is also key to your maintaining a healthy weight.

At Desired Health Chiropractic we have vast experience with all types of headaches. Depending on what is causing your issue will determine the extent of care we can provide.

The first step for anyone with headaches is to contact our office for an evaluation. We test body structure, neurology, movement patterns and physical abilities to determine how we can help you feel better, function better, and ultimately perform better!

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