Difficulty turning your head?
The very top two segments of your neck, C1 and C2, is responsible for approximately 50% of neck turning. When you have neck pain, turning is often a painful motion to perform, making some activities challenging such as driving, grocery shopping, or playing sports. By directly addressing C1-C2, you can almost always feel immediate pain relief and increase in overall neck range of motion.
The anatomy of C1 and C2 are delicate as there are a lot of sensitive structures at this region. Because of that, getting a high velocity manipulation at this region is generally advised against in the world of physical therapy. A better hands-on treatment for this region is muscle energy technique (MET). It is a fancy term for manipulating the stiff joints with your own muscular force. Other treatments such as self-corrective exercise or dry needling can also be helpful.
Unless there is a fracture or chronic instability, surgical fusion should be the last resort. As you can imagine, you will lose about half of your ability to turn your head for the rest of your life. The quality of life will be greatly compromised, especially if you are young.
September 17th, 2022
How do you know if your neck pain is the result of a disc herniation? Your age can give you a clue. Intervertebral discs are hydrophillic, meaning it contains mostly water. The amount of water content peaks around mid 20's, and starts to decline after each decade. More water creates more movements, and the disc is more likely to move out of place, aka disc herniation. Therefore, younger people are actually more prone to a disc herniation. If you have Medicare, the chance of you having a disc herniation is not impossible, but slim.
The anatomy of tension headache
Have you ever experienced a tension headache, the ache that starts from the base of your skull and radiates upward, and ends up on your forehead? It is actually the result of prolonged muscular contraction at the base of the skull (suboccipital region), usually caused by faulty posture, stress or anxiety. Chronic muscular contraction creates sustained pressure that can eventually tear small blood vessels or muscle fibers, leading to injured tissues. If the situation continues, the muscles will become ischemic (lack of blood flow) and lead to the buildup of harmful metabolites such as lactic acid. Then your greater occipital nerve, which is responsible for the sensation to the scalp and over the ears, will become irritated. At this point, you will start experiencing a plethora of symptoms like headache, ringing of the ear, dizziness, etc. This makes you even more stressed and anxious, and the vicious cycle continues.
Taking pain medications will not solve the problems. You can only sweep under the rug for so long until your medications stop working. Some people choose to get botox injection, which can be expensive and only works for short-term. The proper, free, long-term solution is to address the core of the issues: self posture correction. If this doesn’t solve the problem, the joints responsible for this faulty posture (C0-C1-C2) is likely stuck, and you need to seek help to address this problem. So much for a bad posture, right?
If this sounds like your problem, and you’re in need of my help, click the “send message” button to contact me. Or text/call me at (937) 419-3431. You will get the help you need.
Dr. Jack Pan, PT, DPT, MTC
Information to help you manage your symptoms, feel better, and get back to the activities that you love to do