You would think that the first condition I would touch on would be low back pain, but you would be surprised to know that in my 5 years in practice as a chiropractor in Pittsburgh, I have treated more upper back/neck issues than low back issues. Low back pain is a very close second, but have you ever heard someone say “I carry my tension in my shoulders”? There is a reason for that and it is called having a desk job.
Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? This is a phrase that is catching on and may seem dramatic, but there is a decent amount of truth to it. No, sitting at your desk for 8 hours a day is not going to lead to cancer, but it does lead to several musculoskeletal problems including sciatica, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, bulging discs, chronic lower back and upper back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other nervous system issues to name a few. The most common problem I see as a chiropractor in Robinson Township, PA is upper back pain coupled with headaches. Have you ever had an extremely long day at the computer that ends with a stiff neck, upper back tightness, or even a headache? Most (all) of us have, and the reason stems from posture. As humans, we get old, sedentary, and lazy. It is much more comfortable (and easy) to slouch than to sit up straight, especially when you are in the same spot for hours at a time. When we slouch, our backs hunch, our shoulders roll forward, and our heads shift forward. This position puts a tremendous amount of stress on the upper back and neck. The muscles that act to keep our heads upright and our shoulders back are chronically lengthened in this position. Our muscles have what is called a Myotactic reflex, or stretch reflex, that causes our muscles to subconsciously contract to a degree when they are stretched. Have you ever done a new workout and been extremely tight in the muscles you worked the next day? Similar concept only on a much smaller scale but over a much longer period of time. Basically when we slouch, our postural muscles are stretched, the myotactic reflex causes them to contract, and years of this low level contraction causes chronic tension or trigger points throughout the upper back and neck musculature. That chronic tension leads to tension headaches. This is the most common type of headache because we all have poor posture. When the suboccipital (below the occiput or base of the skull) muscles carry too much tension, this causes suboccipital, or tension type, headaches. This chronic tension also causes fixation of the joints that those muscles are designed to move, so this is why we lose range of motion in the neck when our muscles are very tight.
So how do we fix this problem that we have all had? There are a couple of options. You can take medicine each day to mask the symptoms and eventually eat away at your stomach lining, liver, kidneys, etc. Or you can fix the problem where it starts with chiropractic. In most cases, this is a very quick fix, and by quick I mean like 2-3 chiropractic treatments quick. When I have a patient walk in and tell me another provider recommended 6 weeks of treatment to “realign” their neck to fix this problem, I have to apologize to them. In cases like this I see very quick and lasting results by doing 3 simple things in our treatment plan:
• Restore motion to the joints that are being fixated by the chronically tight muscles
• Release the chronically tight muscles with a manual muscle therapy (ART is very effective here- I will go more into that later)
• Correct the posture so you don’t have to keep doing 1 and 2 forever.
1 and 2 are to take care of the short term pain and 3 is to keep it from recurring. It really is that
simple. Next time you have this kind of pain and want to reach for the Advil bottle, try giving
chiropractic a try- I am sure you will be thankful you did. Whether you are in downtown
Pittsburgh or near the airport and in need of chiropractic care - our Robinson chiropractic
office is conveniently located on Campbells Run Road and we serve the surrounding areas
including Oakdale, Imperial, Moon Township, and Steubenville. Our primary goal is to provide
you with the appropriate health care at our chiropractic center through adjustments and
massage therapy so that you can get back to moving what moves you.