A neck injury is something that, if asked, we would all say we hope to avoid. Any amount of damage to the intricate structures of the cervical spine could lead to chronic head and neck pain, and even symptoms that seem completely unrelated. While you may feel as though you place priority on taking good care of your body, there is a chance that you may be engaging in some habits that could harm the uppermost segment of your spine. Day to day, these may not seem to add up. In fact, subtle signs may not even be noticed. However, over time, pain may become a persistent problem.
Smoking affects the skin and the lungs. That’s where a lot of us stop. But there’s more – a lot more. In research conducted by Dr. Michael Leavitt, from Emory University, we see a clear correlation between smoking and the degeneration of the spinal structure. Specifically, Dr. Leavitt’s research identified a direct hit on the cervical spine from high nicotine intake. The reason that the discs in the cervical spine are quickly broken down in the smoker’s body is because these discs get nourishment from tiny blood vessels that, when damaged by nicotine, cannot maintain their delivery duties.
We all need sleep, but how we sleep makes a difference in the health of the spine. Individuals who sleep on their stomach force their neck into a severe angle – for hours at a time. This positioning places excessive stress on the cervical vertebrae, which could lead to nerve impingement or disc degeneration.
Posture, the way we hold our body when we sit and walk, used to be taught. Today, a large majority of us spend several hours a day looking down at an electronic device or computer screen. The problems that have come from our extensive use of technology have actually been categorized. Yes, “text neck” is a real thing! When we look down, we tend to place the head in a forward/downward posture. This creates a great deal of stress for the bones and discs in the neck because they must support the weight of the head. Researchers believe that, over time, this posture could increase the risk for arthritis in the neck.