Stiff neck: The "Real Pain in the Neck"

To start, before we can tell if we truly have a "stiff neck". We need to know exactly what it is. A stiff neck is a neck that feels tight or sore and has some loss of one normal motion. We often can get a stiff neck from being in one position too long or straining the neck in some fashion. Most often someone may sleep in an awkward position or work in a certain position for an extended period of time that can cause pressure on a nerve.

Nerves in the neck spine supply our muscles. If we have pressure on those nerves the muscles may get irritated, inflammed or not in balance. This in turn can cause neck pain and/or neck stiffness.
Someone who has neck spine or neck posture that is out of alignment will be the most common person to have recurrent or chronic stiff neck. Add to this, the fact that if the person has an occupation where they continually put strain on the neck or someone with a pillow they are sleeping on that does not have good support. Also sleeping on your stomach can cause major neck stiffness or pain. Why is sleeping on your stomach a problem? To breathe we have to turn our head 90 degrees to the left or to the right. As we age, this is not only difficult but not good for extended periods of time when you are sleeping. stiff neck- the real pain in the neck
Our posture gives us insight into what our spine may look like. So if your sleeping posture is horrible for 6-8 hours every night, your body starts getting trained to shift to an unhealthy, abnormal posture or spinal alignment. And once out of alignment we will more easily get the symptoms of neck pain and stiffness.
To correct neck alignment and reduce bad posture the best things to do are as follows:

  1. Always be aware of your posture- if you are always in one position, move around. If you are constantly walking with your head down- look up more. If you have an uncomfortable work station- set it up to be more ergonomically efficient.
  2. Use a good neck pillow and avoid sleeping on your stomach. I recommend the cervical traction neck pillow by Arc4life.com.
  3. See a chiropractor or a physical therapist. Both professionals can give you good postural exercises. Doctors of chiropractic can also adjust or manipulate the spine to help restore neck alignment.

All of the above listed solutions are usually quick and easy to do and will pay off in the long run. Good neck posture and spinal alignment will reduce the incidence of stiff necks.
If you or someone you know is suffering from severe neck pain or neck stiffness currently or has chronic neck issues I would also recommnend using heat to loosen the muscles. Biofreeze is a great natural neck pain relief gel which helps tremendously. Apply to your stiff and sore muscles for 3-5 minutes. Apply ice for 10 minutes afterward. Use ice if there is any inflammation in the neck area.If this is a chronic neck pain issue, heat may also help.
The Trisectional Ice Pack is a perfect ice pack for around your neck and upper back. It includes straps that you can securely hold it in place. Arc4life's Trisectional Ice pack
Arc4life has all your neck pain relief products to give you relief of neck pain, so that it is no longer a pain in the neck !

Posted by Dr. Bellinger.

Visit us on the web at Arc4life.com


Lose a few pounds with some good sleep

On Monday, I ate a full breakfast and continued to eat thoughout the day never feeling full, never satisfied. My lack of sleep along with my tossing and turning the night before was having an effect on my appetite. It had to do with hormones leptin and ghrelin. In particular, the quality and frequency of sleep has been shown to affect our hormones which in turn affect our appetite.

How Hormones Affect Your Sleep According to Michael Breus, PhD, (a faculty member of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and director of The Sleep Disorders Centers of Southeastern Lung Care in Atlanta), leptin and ghrelin work in a kind of "checks and balances" system to control feelings of hunger and fullness, explains . Ghrelin, is produced in the gastrointestinal tract and it stimulates appetite. Leptin is produced in the fat cells and sends a signal to the brain when you are full.

And how does this affect sleep? Lack of sleep decreases the levels of leptin which means you don't feel as satisfied after you eat. This loss of sleep also causes ghrelin levels to increase, which means your appetite is stimulated causing you to want to eat more. These double action by ghrelin and leptin can lead to overeating therefore leading to weight gain.

Research shows that Lack of Sleep can increase weight.
Two studies have been conducted at the University of Chicago in Illinois and at Stanford University in California to study the relationship between sleep and weight gain. The study in Chicago involved 12 subjects whose hunger and appetite levels were noted. Subsequently, the men in the study were subjected to two days of sleep deprivation followed by two days of extended sleep. The Doctors studied their horomone levels, appetite and activity. The study showed that a lack of sleep decreased leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels. It was also noted that the subjects had a increase in appetite by 45%- specifically for high carbohydrate, calorie dense foods.

It was in the Stanford California study, about 1,000 volunteers reported the number of hours they slept each night. Doctors then measured their levels of ghrelin and leptin, as well as noted their weight. Those who slept less than eight hours a night not only had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, but they also had a higher level of body fat. What's more, that level of body fat seemed to correlate with their sleep patterns. Specifically, those who slept the fewest hours per night weighed the most.

So here is an easy way to keep the weight off- make sure you get the proper amount of sleep each night. It is so much simpler than taking pills, or going crazy with excercising or watching what you eat. It will not only keep your appetite in check, but it keep you satisfied throughout the day- preventing unnecessary pounds.


Be Smarter with Sleep. How your Perfomance is affected by your sleeping habits

I cannot tell you how many times I have crammed for a test, all night- then awoken the next ready to write this test. Yeah Right. I wish I had been smarter about getting the right amount of sleep especially before a major test !

Every person needs a certain amount of sleep- and this number varies across the board. If a person who needs eight hours of sleep per night only gets six, their "performance" throughout the day will be affected. Just a simple two hours of sleep loss can be put into perspective the performance affected:

  • Decreased alertness
  • Decresed attention span
  • Reaction time slows down
  • Poorer judgement
  • Reduced awareness of the environment and situation
  • Reduced decision-making skills
  • Poorer memory
  • Reduced concentration
  • Increased likelihood of mentally ‘stalling’ or fixating on one thought
  • Increased likelihood of moodiness and bad temper
  • Reduced work efficiency
  • Loss of motivation
  • Errors of omission (making a mistake by forgetting to do something)
  • Errors of commission (making a mistake by doing something, but choosing the wrong option)
  • Microsleep (brief periods of involuntary sleeping that range from a few seconds to a few minutes in duration).

A tired person is more accident prone, judgement impaired and more likely to make mistakes and poor decisions. Staying awake for 24 hours leads to a reduced hand-to-eye coordination that is similar to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1. This is one of the reasons why a lack of sleep leads to road accidents and work injuries. Sleep deprivation can also affect a child’s school performance, and could be linked to increased risk of emotional problems such as depression. So when you put your "thinking cap" on, realize how important last night's sleep is.

Approximately 200,000 automobile crashes occur each year because of drivers' excessive sleepiness. Excessive daytime somnolence also produces impaired learning and cognition[4,5] and has been implicated in the occurrence of major catastrophes, such as the Three Mile Island Meltdown (1979), the erroneous launch of the Challenger space shuttle (1986), and the grounding of the Exxon Valdez (1989). From MedScape


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