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To Your Health

Wake up and go lie down

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04/01/2016 - Howdy! I recently had to deal with a number of individuals who have been experiencing neck pain from a very bad habit. This pain is not from the act of being hunched over texting or reading (later article) but from a simple act of falling asleep in a chair. Yes, this could be you or your parents or grandparents who can do this do this while watching television or from reading.

Fact is, this has bad effects on one's neck. First, there are those who will say they sit in a recliner - that's fine if you feel tired and you recline back. But surprisingly, some don't make it that far and this will lump you in with the rest who choose not to have a recliner.

Now the first step in this negative process is the chin drops and then the head rolls forward and sometimes off to the side. Now this impacts a few areas: first the neck muscles are being stressed to hold the head weighing 8-13 lb like bowling ball on a stem. There is an increased load on the joints of the neck and the discs and if an individual has some arthritis in the neck this really puts the hurt on those areas. Sometimes individual could have a loss of integrity in the alignment of the spine resulting in possibly compromising the spinal cord (yikes). Finally, there is the fact that a person is stressing tissues of the brain and spine. There are tissues that surround the brain and spinal cord called meningeal tissues. Now I'm sure you have heard of meningitis; well, that is the inflammation of these tissues. When a person drops their head they can stress these tissues.

Now when one is like this for a period of 15 to 20 minutes they can cause what we call "plastic deformation" of the tissues resulting in the tendon, ligaments, and muscles changing their shape and size to accommodate this position. Not a good idea. Once and individual wakes up and tries to hold their head up to their normal position the tissues have accommodated a new position and the person feels stiff or just can't move.

Another problem is that the individual can startle themselves or be startled by others and they can snap their head back giving themselves a whiplash-like injury. I had one individual actually sustain a fracture doing this. Not fun.

So when this occurs individuals will come in for a spinal adjustment which helps restore joint function and stimulate the nervous system to restore proper proprioception (position sense) of the joints and muscles. Some will also get massage work to help the muscles and joints. Or, if you really screwed up, you're seeing the physical therapist for a few weeks of therapy that's not exactly cheap for simply not getting your buns out of the chair and go lie down.

So when the urge is to close your eyes for a minute to check the eye lids for leaks don't believe it for a minute - get out of the chair - or you may be visiting me! See ya!

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