Dear Dr. Archambault: I was in a car accident on June 7th and fractured a rib. Two weeks later I noticed stiffness in my neck and now it’s also causing pain in my shoulder. Advil is NOT helping. Is this something that you could help and will my car insurance pay for it!
Ken P. Winchester, MA
Frequently, victims of car accidents experience symptoms several weeks later. This is most often the case when other, more painful injuries are sustained. The brain is programmed to respond to the strongest stimulus (the pain from the broken rib) and inhibits the lesser stimuli. This is sometimes referred to as the Gate Theory of Pain and explains why you may not have felt the neck injury at first but as the rib pain lessens the neck pain became more troublesome. The fact that the pain has begun to radiate into the shoulder may suggest a nerve irritation due to a bulging disc or a vertebral misalignment as the result of “whiplash” suffered during the accident. Chiropractic has obtained excellent results in resolving these issues without the use of drugs or surgical intervention!
Regarding your second question——Yes, chiropractic care is totally reimbursable by auto insurance companies and no referral is required by one’s personal physician. Hope this helps, Ken!!!!!
DEAR DR. ARCHAMBAULT: Thank you for your column on the perils of reading/texting in bed! As a follow-up, what is the most beneficial position for sleeping?
Lily DEAR LILY: This is one of the most frequently asked questions in any chiropractic office and with good reason! Nearly everyone who awakens in the morning with more body discomfort than when going to bed the previous night could benefit from an improved sleeping posture. Although there are all types of sleeping positions, I will share with you my absolute favorite.
I feel it works well to ease both neck and low back pain.
1) Lie on either side in a semi-fetal position (knees bent). Place a small pillow between your knees. You will find that it becomes comfortable now to have one knee on another and there will no longer be a need to throw the top leg over the bottom leg. As a result, you will no longer be twisting your hips/pelvis all night and likely will have less low back pain in the morning. While it is true that this requires you to replace the pillow between your knees when turning onto your opposite side, you will get used to it and it will worth it, I promise!
2) Be kind to your neck when preparing for sleep. Your goal is to make your head/neck so comfortable it feels weightless. To do this you must make sure to keep you neck perpendicular to your shoulders. Just think your right ear may be no closer to your right shoulder than your left ear is to your left shoulder. This requires a very malleable, pliable pillow. I strongly recommend a king-size down or down alternative pillow as it can easily molded into soft, supportive rest area for your neck without the “push back” nature of a foam pillow.
I’m hopeful this results in a better night’s sleep for many of you. Should you do all of the above and the back and/or neck pain persist, it may be time to see a chiropractor for a thorough musculoskeletal evaluation!
As much as I enjoy responding to your health questions each month, I thought this time I would address one of the most common, yet underrated causes of chronic neck, mid-back and low back pain. This seemingly innocuous activity is so subtle as to be easily dismissed as a likely cause of spinal dysfunction but I have found it to be a major cause of spinal stress. The activity?
READING/TEXTING IN BED! Perhaps the fact that in the past two weeks I have treated four new patients for conditions arising from this activity has prompted me to review it in this
There are three basic postures for reading/texting in bed each of which presents its own perils.
#1 Sitting up, knees bent, with pillows propped up between one’s back and the headboard/ wall. This is perhaps the most common posture. This results in a slouching of the shoulders as well a forward and downward position of the head creating a constant stretching of the muscles from the top of the shoulders to the base of the skull.
Allowed to continue over time, this can result in neck/shoulder pain and tightness as well as cervicogenic (neck related) headaches.
#2 As above except the legs are not bent but outstretched. This posture not only can result in the conditions associated with #1, but also place constant pressure on the lumbo-sacral joint often resulting in lower back pain and spasm.
#3 Lying on one’s side with the head propped up by one’s arm/hand. This is perhaps the most dangerous as it places great force on the head/neck. This often results not only in neck and shoulder pain but also in misalignment of the small bones that make up the cervical spine.
The next time you get the urge to read or text consider the above. Find a comfortable chair, desk or table and go for it. Save the bed for what it was best designed——a good
night’s sleep…..and……you may wake up free of that nagging neck/shoulder ache!
DEAR DR. ARCHAMBAULT: My 22-year daughter has been having terrible headaches for months. When they started they would only stay for a few hours but for the past month they have been occurring daily and are causing pain along the side of her face. Her doctor has prescribed ibuprofen but it’s not helping and may be making her sick to her stomach. Is this something chiropractors
Cindy K., Belmon
DEAR CINDY: There are numerous classifications of headaches and a thorough examination is often necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis. Cervicogenic headaches (headaches arising from neck) comprise one of the larger categories of headaches as do headaches associated with temporal mandibular joint syndrome (misalignment of the jaw). These headache types have a structural basis and are often treated successfully by “adjusting” the involved cervical vertebrae or the mandible to restore normal form and function.
Many chiropractors are particularly proficient at performing these precise technical manipulations and supporting the irritated muscles and ligaments with therapies such as ultrasound and electrical muscle stimulation. Once realigned, exercises are provided to help prevent future problems.
These types of headaches are successfully treated by chiropractors every day. It may very well be the answer to relieving your daughter’s
DEAR DR. ARCHAMBAULT: I’m wondering what a chiropractor can do for arthritis in the neck. I’m 57 years old and my neck seems to be getting more stiff each year. Now it even affects my driving especially when turning to see other cars. It used to make crackling sounds when I turned it but that seems to be better. I’ve been told to take Advil but my stomach can’t take it. Do I have to live with this?
Paul D. ~ Belmont
DEAR PAUL: Assuming your condition is primarily due to osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis), there may be several options to help treat your condition and decrease the stiffness you feel in your neck. First, let’s understand how the joints in your neck move. Each joint is lined with a special membrane whose job it is to produce a lubricant to help one bone glide over another (think of this as the body’s WD40!). This lubricant is produced by the mechanical friction of one bone moving against the other. Often, an injury, poor ergonomics or poor sleeping conditions can cause misalignment in the neck leading to pain. When this occurs we avoid movement leading to less lubrication and more stiffness. The longer this pattern continues the worse the stiffness! Chiropractic can help by gently restoring motion to the restricted joints which stimulates the production of synovial fluid (lubricant).
This is accomplished with painless manipulative techniques as well as adjunctive procedures including ultrasound, electrical stimulation, trigger point therapy, massage and a home exercise program. We have seen much success using this treatment protocol in the past. Perhaps you should give it a try!!
DEAR DR. ARCHAMBAULT: I’m hoping you can help because I’m getting really frustrated!
My husband is 36 years old and works as an electrician. Last month he hurt his back lifting a couch. Since then he’s had several episodes of really bad back pain and his body leans to his right side each time. It just happened last Sunday when he was cleaning the garage. Now he’s in a lot of pain again for the third time this year. He always ends up taking the muscle relaxer and Motrin and is better in a week or two. This time it’s over 5 weeks and he still is not able to work. Is there anything that can be done to fix his back for good?
Sharon P. Arlington
DEAR SHARON: Although it is quite common for back issues to result in pain and disability, the emotional and financial backlash can be both stressful and frustrating. Before the proper treatment can be determined we must discover the cause. In the absence of your husband’s medical and diagnostic records, I can only offer an educated “guess” based on treating similar conditions for the past 30 years.
It is likely your husband is dealing with a lumbar disc which, under physical or emotional duress, bulges out resulting in the irritation of nerves which send signals to the large muscles of the back causing them to contract or “guard” so as not to allow further injury. Many chiropractors address this condition with techniques which involve traction applied to the lumbar spine to help decrease the pressure upon the disc, allowing it to retract to its former position. This process commonly helps to accelerate the recovery and does not involve the use of medications which likely have harmful side effects. Once recovery is attained, the patient is placed on a back strengthening program as well as a spinal maintenance schedule which serves to reduce both the frequency and duration of future episodes.
Hope this helps, Sharon!