Ease a pain in the neck

Local chiropractor shares tips to avoid alleviate common back, neck pain

Local chiropractor shares tips to avoid alleviate common back, neck pain

August 24, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

I've had some bad habits.

As a reporter, I've held the phone in the crook of my neck and bent over pages for an extended period of time while proofreading.

Then I go home and might occasionally slouch in a chair while I watch TV, or read in bed without propping my upper body up enough.

All of these habits have resulted in periodic back or neck pain, and trips to the chiropractor.

As Dr. Michael DeCriscio, my chiropractor, works out kinks in my muscles and vertebrae, he asks me what I've been doing lately to cause all that tightness. At least once, he's asked me if I've been having headaches, seeming to know the answer was "yes" even before I voiced it.


So I asked DeCriscio, owner of Allegany Chiropractic Center in South Pointe Shopping Center in the Hagerstown area, to share some tips.

What are some bad habits people have that lead to neck and back pain? And how can they be prevented?

1. Don't sleep on your stomach.

Problem: This turns your neck and can result in muscle tightness and nerve irritation, DeCriscio said.

The solution: Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to keep your spine straight. Your head shouldn't be too low or too high - so don't lay your head on a stack of plump pillows or a pillow that's too flat. Your nose should be in line with the middle of your chest when you sleep on your side.

Or you can sleep on your back, with a pillow under your knees. Again, your head should be level, not too high or low.

2. When lifting, don't bend at the waist without bending the knees.

Problem: Leaning over from the waist can cause a variety of lower back problems, including muscle strains and disc problems. If you lift something really heavy without bending your knees, you might herniate a disc.

The solution: Use your legs to lift the weight. Bend your knees and try to keep your back perpendicular to the ground, as straight as possible.

3. Don't sit in a chair that is too high or too low.

Problem: This can change the curve in your lower back, leading to irritation and more stress on the lower vertebrae.

Solution: If your chair is adjustable, adjust it so your hips are level with your knees. Your feet should be on the ground. Dangling your feet can pull a bit on the back.

4. Don't cradle the phone in the crook of your neck.

Problem: This is a "big-time problem," DeCriscio said. Cradling the phone can lead to nerve irritation and asymmetry of the neck muscles, so the muscles on one side of the neck tighten up. This can lead to neck pain and decreased range of motion - aka, it hurts to turn your head.

Solution: DeCriscio recommends using a telephone head set.

5. Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket.

Problem: Sitting down with a wallet in your back pocket unlevels your pelvis so you're leaning to one side. This can create problems with the pelvis and lower back vertebrae.

Solution: Store your wallet elsewhere.

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