Four Factors That Can Impede Your Recovery in Oakland CA
Pain is a funny thing. When we feel it, we’re incredibly motivated to do something about it. We research online, we see specialists, we do exercises and change how we eat, we change our ergonomics at work - all to stop the pain. Then, when we do get the pain to stop, somehow we forget we ever had it, and we stop doing all the things that were helping. I see this cycle time and again in my office: I recommend a certain care plan, people feel better, they stop doing the care plan, then they hurt again. I’m not going to sugar-coat it for you. Getting better takes time and dedication. It’s not an overnight fix. Below I’d like to go through the things that impede recovery and make suggestions as to how you can feel better and be more stable for the long haul.
When people come to me in pain, I generally take a certain path. If it’s a new pain, I try to deal with it quickly. If it goes away within a couple of weeks, my patient often moves into a maintenance or as needed schedule, according to their wishes. If the pain does not go away quickly, or if the pain has been a long-term, chronic issue, usually I will order x-rays. At this point the patient and I sit down, look at the x-rays, and come up with a plan that works for them, on how to try to make some long-term changes. Often this involves chiropractic adjustments, traction to correct spinal abnormalities (in home and/or in-office such as decompression), exercises, ergonomic changes, and often nutritional changes. Generally the patient is excited to finally have a plan and finally be doing something about their pain.
I often warn people, “The hard part is not starting this change. The hard part is sticking with it once you feel better.”
I Can’t Help You If I Can’t See You
Once people do feel better, they start to miss appointments. The thinking is, “I feel better, I can probably skip here and there.” However, we’re trying to make permanent changes to the spine and soft tissues and that can’t happen when we do it every now and then. We have to be consistent or the body will just go back to how it’s always been. Regular adjustments help to realign the spine, create more movement in the joints, stimulate the nerves, and break up the scar tissue in the muscles. When you miss your appointments, you lose out on those important changes that contribute to the bigger picture of stability and long-term pain relief. When the body starts to stabilize, I talk to my patients about lessening their treatment frequency.
Stopping Recommended Traction Before Treatment Is Complete
Traction is another thing that is easy to forget about doing when you feel better. I often send my patients home with a neck roll to lie over called the Denneroll. This helps make permanent changes to the curvature of the spine. And it helps reduce pain. But it also takes consistency and diligence in doing it everyday. Ligaments and tendons are not very flexible and take time to change permanently. Once the desired changes are made and seen on post x-ray, the traction can be stopped.
These days, everyone uses their phones constantly. The average American looks at their phone 46 times per day! You see people on public transit, craning their necks to see the words or images on the screen, and it’s causing pain and postural dysfunction for everyone. In the first time in my career I’m treating kids with forward head posture (learn more about forward head posture in my blog post here). Forward head posture, aka “text neck,” shifts the center of gravity of the head forward so that the head is no longer directly above the neck, shoulders, and mid back. If you are coming in for neck pain treatment, it’s really important to make some ergonomic changes to the way you hold your phone when looking at it. Bring the phone up to your eyes rather than bending your neck forward to look down. This small postural adjustment will improve the long-term changes we are trying to achieve during the course of treatment.
Sitting for Hours Without Breaks
As we feel better, we forget to take breaks when we sit. In recent years, research has linked sitting for long periods of time without breaks to an increased risk for a number of diseases; obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, etc. Not only is sitting bad for your cardiovascular health, it’s bad for your spinal health. Sitting causes the shoulders to roll forward and puts pressure on the spinal discs. Sitting for long periods will reduce spinal stability and eventually you will mold into this posture permanently. It’s important to take standing breaks every 15-20 minutes. To learn more about the mechanics involved in sitting, see my blog post here.
Exercise is not always fun and is another thing added to your schedule. But it’s incredibly important to feeling better. Exercises help the body return to a more stable place by strengthening the core muscles that stabilize the spine. As with the other recommendations I make, once people feel better, they often stop doing their core exercises. However, exercise is something that needs to be maintained in some capacity, throughout our lives.
Hang in there. You will feel better, long-term. Feeling better takes work and dedication. It’s not an overnight fix but you are worth the time and dedication. Stick to your adjustments, traction, and exercise, keep good posture while looking at your electronics, and we will get you better, long-term.
It’s never too late to jump back into treatment if you took a break. And keep in mind, if you are overwhelmed right now and want me to adjust you as needed, I’m here for you in that capacity too. Give us a call to schedule at 510-922-1579, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Things We Love:
Move Without Pain
This book offers movements and stretches that will relax and release muscles that are chronically tight, allowing you to move without pain.
Nexstand Laptop Stand
This stand will allow you to sit in a comfortable position with your shoulders and head in neutral. This is highly recommended if you do computer work most of the day. It's portable and compact, too.
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