Monday, April 22, 2013

Digital Discomfort: 10 Tips To Prevent & Repair Text Neck

Is Technology Becoming A Pain In Your Child’s Neck? 

Did you know Canadians send an average of 270 million texts per day? Along with the convenience that advancing technology provides comes the need to minimize the risk of injury. This is especially true of young people, whose bodies are still developing.
With the ever increasing daily use of mobile devices – such as smartphones, tablets and handheld games – chiropractors are seeing an increase in corresponding repetitive strain injuries (RSI’s), colloquially known by names such as “text neck” and “Blackberry thumb”. RSI’s are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that are often caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained awkward positions.
What is “Text Neck”?
Text neck presents as rounded shoulders and the head hanging forward and down. It is caused by poor posture from hunching over a mobile device for long periods of time,” says Dr. Brian Gushaty, an Edmonton chiropractor. “This prolonged poor posture is often associated with chronic headaches and shoulder or neck pain, and can have long term impact.”
                            For every inch of forward head posture, it can increase
                            the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.
                            – Dr. Adalbert Kapandji, Physiology of Joints
Text neck and neck strain can cause postural abnormalities and changing growth patterns, especially in the upper spine. The largest risk group is children and teenagers who are heavy users of smartphones and handheld gaming devices.
Technology isn’t going anywhere, so how can we help our children minimize the risks? Since text neck is a postural abnormality, the key is to stress the importance of strong posture and how to achieve it.
Tips to avoid text neck
There are several things parents and young people can incorporate into their day-to-day activities to alleviate the symptoms of text neck and related RSI’s, while also strengthening their posture:
  • Sit up straight with chest out and shoulders back.
  • Bring your arms up to eye level so you don’t have to look down to see the screen.
  • If you must look down, tuck your chin into your neck instead of hanging your head forward.
  • If you use your mobile device for extensive typing, consider investing in an external keyboard.
  • Rest your forearms on a pillow while typing to minimize neck tension.
  • Avoid using mobile devices in bright sunlight. Straining to see the screen often leads to jutting the chin forward, straining the muscles that support the head.
Strive for a balanced lifestyle
The best way to minimize the risk of RSI’s related to mobile devices is to limit use of these devices.
In a recent Canadian study, researchers surveyed students and found that those who used their devices three hours or more a day were twice as likely to experience pain in their shoulders, neck and other issues compared to those who used their devices for less time.
Balance is critical. Encourage your child to take regular breaks from mobile devices and get regular physical activity to offset the effects of leaning over a smartphone or tablet.
“You want to neutralize the stress,” says Dr. Gushaty. “Strenuous physical activity for the upper body, such as racquet sports, can provide a good counterbalance for the strain caused by poor posture.”
Another key element is to introduce your child to a regular stretching program:
  • Hand stretches and squeezing a stress ball can help fingers.
  • Pull shoulder blades back and down to help alleviate neck and shoulder strain.
  • Stretch the chest by standing up straight with arms down at your side. Turn forearms until thumbs are pointing at the wall behind you.
  • Exercises like yoga and Pilates focus heavily on posture and can help improve poor posture.
If you are concerned your child is suffering from a repetitive strain injury like text neck, talk to your health care provider. They can suggest stretches and exercises that can help minimize the impact of the strain and offer lifestyle counseling to achieve a balanced, healthy lifestyle for you and your child.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Physical Strain of Sitting
By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

From smart phones to computers to video games, modern technology has significantly influenced our daily postural habits and caused us to sit more often and for longer periods of time than ever before.  As a result, our increased exposure to sitting has contributed to rising levels of inactivity, and chronic ailments such as headaches, neck pain, and back pain.
People who sit for prolonged periods of time may adopt a poor posture that includes losing the natural hollow of the low back, rounding or slouching of the upper back and shoulders, and a forward head poking position.  This can eventually lead to painful symptoms as these less than ideal positions put cumulative compression, stretch, and shear forces on spinal tissues such as joints and discs.
The cumulative effects of sitting are often offset by the body’s ability to compensate.  However, even in the absence of pain, these compensatory changes may begin a vicious cycle of unbalanced motion, muscle and joint stress, and secondary areas of discomfort.
Structural changes can also result from poor or prolonged sitting habits.  For example, aside from providing anatomical support, ligaments also function as neurological sense organs to the spine and influence reflexes that help muscles fire.  When an individual is exposed to prolonged sitting postures, they load their spinal ligaments which results in a delayed reflex action of muscles.  As a result, when this individual moves, the muscles may not fire quickly enough to protect the spine and this can lead to episodes of neck and back pain.  This is known as the biomechanical principle of CREEP, which stands for Continuous or Repetitive Elongation of the Elastic Properties of tissue.
Scientific research has also identified changes in muscle tissue associated with inactivity and prolonged sitting.  Over time, muscle tissue will accumulate fatty infiltrations that make it weaker and less capable of providing support for physical activity.
Below are some useful tips that can help overcome the physical strain of sitting:
1.    Proper posture is key:  Make sure weight is evenly distributed, your shoulders are not rounding forward, and you are not slouching.  A lumbar support can also be used to help maintain the natural hollow of your low back and proper spinal alignment.  Even slight slouching to the side, backward, or forward can put undesirable forces on biological tissues.
2.    Take a break from sitting:  Take 10 to 30 second stretch or posture breaks every 20 to 40 minutes.  Some activities such as computer work, talking on the phone, and business meetings can also be done while standing.
3.    Consider ergonomics:  The use of a properly designed workstation, along with ergonomic tools and assistive devices can help maintain mechanically advantageous positions while working in a seated position.
4.    Engage in regular physical activity and exercise:  Exercise strengthens our muscles and joints, while inactivity and poor posture weakens them.  Regular exercise can help overcome the effects of cumulative spinal forces, compensation, CREEP, and fatty infiltrations associated with poor posture and prolonged sitting.
Sitting can undeniably cause real physical change and breakdown in the body.  Chiropractors are well positioned to effectively evaluate and treat the effects of poor posture and prolonged sitting.  This may include symptomatic treatment, the prescription of appropriate exercises, and ergonomic advice specifically for your circumstance.  For more information visit
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Needle This: Study Hints at How Acupuncture Works to Relieve Stress
By Dr. Mercola
Acupuncture, which has been valued as part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, is now used by millions of Americans each year, often to treat chronic pain. But now researchers have revealed the healing technique may also be effective in treating one of the most widespread ailments facing US adults: chronic stress.
Acupuncture May Relieve Chronic Stress
A new animal study showed that rats pre-treated with acupuncture had no spike in stress-associated hormones after being exposed to chronic stress.1 On the contrary, rats that received no treatment or a sham acupuncture treatment had higher levels of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) along with other stress hormones.  It is the constant increase in stress hormones that is associated with many of the health problems linked to chronic stress, such as depression, insomnia and anxiety. In stressed animals that received acupuncture, stress hormone levels were similar to those in the control animals that were not under chronic stress, which suggests the ancient healing modality helps to normalize stress hormone levels.  Interestingly, the acupuncture point used in the study was a point on the stomach, which may work by tapping into the gut-brain connection.  Research is now being carried out to determine if acupuncture is also effective at relieving stress when applied after the fact, as a treatment instead of a preventive strategy.
Acupuncture Also Confirmed to Help Treat Chronic Pain
In a recent analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine,2 researchers concluded that acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing chronic pain, such as back pain and headaches – more so than standard pain treatment. Real acupuncture also produced slightly better results than using sham needles, which suggests the benefits of needling are due to more than the placebo effect.  
The study revealed a "clear and robust" effect of acupuncture in the treatment of:
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Headaches
On a scale of 0 to 100, participants who started out with a pain rating of 60 experienced:
  • An average 30-point drop (a 50 percent reduction) in response to the real acupuncture treatments (using needles)
  • A 25-point drop when receiving sham acupuncture
  • A mere 17-point drop when receiving "standard pain care" that did not include acupuncture
One of the World’s Oldest Medical Practices
With documented use dating back more than 2,500 years, acupuncture is based on the premise that there are more than 2,000 acupuncture points in the human body, which are connected by bioenergetic pathways known as meridians. It is through these pathways that Qi, or energy, flows, and when the pathway is blocked the disruptions can lead to imbalances and chronic disease. 
The treatment itself, which involves the insertion of metallic hair-thin needles (typically three to 15) into specific acupuncture points, can be conducted by a physician or a trained acupuncturist. It generally involves little or no discomfort, and patients often report feeling energized or relaxed following the procedure. 
Acupuncture is proven to impact a number of chronic health conditions, and it’s thought that it stimulates the central nervous system to release natural chemicals that alter bodily systems, pain and other biological processes. Evidence, in fact, suggests that acupuncture impacts the body on multiple levels, including:3
  • Stimulating the conduction of electromagnetic signals, which may release immune system cells or pain-killing chemicals
  • Activation of your body’s natural opioid system, which may help reduce pain or induce sleep
  • Stimulation of your hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which impact numerous body systems
  • Change in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, which may positively influence brain chemistry
WHO Reveals Dozens of Proven Uses for Acupuncture
The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted an extensive review and analysis of clinical trials related to acupuncture, and reported the procedure has been proven effective for the following diseases:  
Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever) Biliary colic
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke) Dysentery, acute bacillary Dysmenorrhoea, primary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm) Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders) Headache
Hypertension, essential Hypotension, primary Induction of labor
Knee pain Leukopenia Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of Morning sickness Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction) Periarthritis of shoulder
Postoperative pain Renal colic Rheumatoid arthritis
Sciatica Sprain Stroke
Tennis elbow    

Additionally, acupuncture has also shown a therapeutic effect for treating the following diseases and conditions, which range from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and addictions to whooping cough, although further research is needed: 
Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)  Acne vulgaris Alcohol dependence and detoxification Bell’s palsy
Bronchial asthma Cancer pain Cardiac neurosis Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
Cholelithiasis Competition stress syndrome Craniocerebral injury, closed Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
Earache Epidemic haemorrhagic fever Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease) Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
Female infertility Facial spasm Female urethral syndrome Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
Gastrokinetic disturbance Gouty arthritis Hepatitis B virus carrier status Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
Hyperlipaemia Hypo-ovarianism Insomnia Labor pain
Lactation, deficiency Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic Ménière disease Neuralgia, post-herpetic
Neurodermatitis Obesity Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence Osteoarthritis
Pain due to endoscopic examination Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome) Postextubation in children
Postoperative convalescence Premenstrual syndrome Prostatitis, chronic Pruritus
Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome Raynaud syndrome, primary Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Retention of urine, traumatic Schizophrenia Sialism, drug-induced Sjögren syndrome
Sore throat (including tonsillitis) Spine pain, acute Stiff neck Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Tietze syndrome Tobacco dependence Tourette syndrome Ulcerative colitis, chronic
Urolithiasis Vascular dementia Whooping cough (pertussis)     

For more information on Acupuncture, visit our website: