E28: Understanding Scoliosis Neck Pain

E28: Understanding Scoliosis Neck Pain Image

In Episode 28, host Heather Rotunda and Dr. Mark discuss scoliosis neck pain, its causes, and treatment.

Throughout the episode, you'll hear:

  • What causes neck pain in people with scoliosis
  • What problems are associated with loss of motion in the spine
  • How to treat scoliosis-related neck pain
  • Whether it's possible to alleviate or eliminate scoliosis-related neck pain

We hope you enjoy the show!

For more information, visit clear-insitute.org.

To connect with Dr. Mark directly, visit Wheaton Family Chiropractic.

Questions or Topics

If you have questions for Dr. Myers, leave a comment below. We would also love to know what you would like to hear in future episodes.

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Episode Transcript

Heather R (00:00):

Hello, and welcome to Episode 28 of Life Beyond the Curve. I'm your host, Heather Rotunda. Dr. Mark Myers joins me today to discuss the topic "Understanding Scoliosis Neck Pain." Dr. Mark established Wheaton Family Chiropractic in Wheaton, Illinois in 2002, and he provides both scoliosis treatment and chiropractic care for the entire family. He joined CLEAR in 2012 and is certified in both Standard and Intensive Care. Dr. Mark's mission is to spread the message of health and healing to his town, state, country, and all over the world, and he certainly does just that whenever he joins us. I hope you'll enjoy the show. Episode 28, here we go!

Intro (00:46):

You're listening to Life Beyond the Curve, a podcast brought to you by CLEAR Scoliosis Institute. Each week, we interview experts in the industry, answer your pressing questions, and empower you to take control of your scoliosis diagnosis and live life to its fullest. Enjoy the show.

Heather R (01:11):

Thank you for joining us today, Dr. Mark, it's great to have you back.

Dr. Myers (01:15):

Great to be here.

Heather R (01:17):

Today's topic is "Understanding Scoliosis Neck Pain". Now, when I think of scoliosis pain, my first thought is back pain. So what causes neck pain in people with scoliosis?

Dr. Myers (01:30):

That's a great question, Heather, and there's a lot of different ways to take that, uh, question. There's different things that can cause scoliosis, but typically we see that there's some type of loss of motion and function, uh, when somebody has, uh, neck pain. So it is, as detailed as we could get with a whole description of things, that's probably the, the shortest answer that I could give you, is some type of loss of motion and function that's happened inside the, in the neck.

Heather R (02:01):

Okay. So how do you measure loss of motion?

Dr. Myers (02:05):

One of the simple ways is something called the goniometer, which all the CLEAR doctors have and it's, uh, chiropractors, uh, as well use it, as well as medical doctors, but the, uh, physical therapists use it as well. Uh, those tests specifically measure range of motion. So the neck should naturally, we know typically, the average person, your neck should be able to bend forwards and backwards. It should be able to bend side to side and then rotate, uh, left and right. And those motions have a normal amount that we should see. And whenever we see a loss of motion, we know that there's something structurally going on, uh, whether it's tight muscles or locked vertebrae or, uh, tension or degeneration, or some type of problem that's affecting the normal motion of the spine. Another way we actually can measure that, uh, is, is with x-rays, uh, you know, besides doing the typical range of motion tests.

Dr. Myers (03:06):

Uh, one of the, the best tools that, uh, we learned through, I learned through CLEAR was to actually, uh, measure with a flexion extension test, uh, with an x-ray and drawing a line from the bottom of each one of those vertebrae, when someone has their head bent forward. When you see those, all those lines should cross within about six inches. And then when we tip the head backwards, they should all cross within about six inches as well. When we see loss of motion or a vertebrae that's stuck or not moving properly, those lines won't cross. And what that tells us, we can see really specifically where that loss of motion is actually coming from. It's amazing to see that. Uh, so when not only see the skull has a normal range of motion, but all seven vertebrae as well, uh, have these normal movements that they're supposed to have. And we look very specifically, it's a, it takes a lot of time to, um, analyze those two x-rays, but we get just a, a ton of information from those. So we can specifically help the patient. When we see that on those tests.

Heather R (04:13):

Beyond the pain aspect, what other problems can be associated with loss of motion in the spine?

Dr. Myers (04:20):

Typically with loss of motion, you know, one of the most common warning signs is, you know, neck pain, obviously, uh, tension spasm, often pain in the shoulders. Uh, sometimes we'll see things like headaches. Um, other times we'll see even immune system issues, uh, where the, because of the nerves and the upper neck control, uh, so much of the immune function, when that's off, it can affect the function and what a, um, it's never been a more important time where people need, um, the best immune system as possible as what we've been seeing over the last couple years with everything going on, but it can also affect things like blood pressure, your energy level, your concentration. It can affect things like your eyes, ears, nose, and even sinus issues. So we've seen a lot of patients who have, uh, told us that as they've, uh, worked on their neck, how, uh, every year they had allergies and some, uh, so neat to see how some of the times we'll see the patients that say, you know what? This is like one of the worst years everybody's saying their allergies and mine are better than they've ever been. What are you doing, doc? So it's really fun to see that.

Heather R (05:38):

Wow, wow. That's a good reminder that I need to get with a CLEAR doctor and get my neck looked at. I, I hadn't thought about all those things being connected to neck and loss of motion. That's fascinating. So do all scoliosis patients experience neck pain?

Dr. Myers (06:01):

No, it's actually not very common at all. Uh, the pain is usually the last thing to come on, and it's typically the first thing to go. Uh, but it's never a great indicator of how well your body's functioning. So we always, that's, uh, never a reliable thing. Typically we see, uh, with younger kids, especially, that they're gonna be less likely to have neck pain. Uh, typically pain starts later on, and again, after a lot of damage is often built up. Uh, when kids are younger, they're often growing. Uh, and so if you think of it like a slinky, you know, as you stretch that slinky, um, you know, it's, it's when you compress that slinky and everything's smushed. Uh, so we look at bad posture from people looking down at phones and computers and, you know, bad posture. Typically that's gonna start to aggravate and start to cause issues, um, down the road. So.

Heather R (07:00):

Okay, good reminder to, you know, not be hunched over your phone and computer all the time, like so many of us are. So as a CLEAR-certified doctor, how do you treat scoliosis related neck pain? And, um, so you just said, it's one of the first things to go, so it is possible to alleviate or eliminate.

Dr. Myers (07:26):

It is, yeah. So we have, um, in most cases we're able to alleviate and even, uh, eliminate neck pain by getting to the root of the problem, by getting the proper motion back into the spine, by re uh, help re rehydrating the discs, helping to restore proper motion, getting the muscles to relax, all those things, getting the tension off the spinal cord from the nerves being irritated by the misalignments. Those are all ways we can help specifically target that, uh, to help. Uh, as a, as a CLEAR doctor, we look at a lot of different tools that we have available to help with neck pain and helping people get back to optimal function.

Heather R (08:13):

Okay, great. You know, if the loss of motion is pretty severe, you can still help.

Dr. Myers (08:20):

Yeah. There's some cases where patients have had just a recent, uh, neck where it's locked up. Uh, I remember back in chiropractic school, I had, uh, a case of what's called torticollis, where I woke up in the middle of the night and just my neck was completely locked up. If anybody's ever had that, as a doctor, I can relate with them, um, cuz I, I I've having gone through that. Uh, and it was one of those things that, uh, I could not move. I, I couldn't look down and, uh, it was scary, I mean, but uh, chiropractic helped me then. I was thankful to <laugh>. I went to the clinic and started getting adjusted, uh, to, and uh, they were able to help me a lot. But uh, you know, when we look at the, uh, the tools that we have today, even, um, we're able to get even faster changes and help people get their, get their function back.

Dr. Myers (09:16):

Uh, sometimes it was something that's a slow progression, that's just been building up over time. And other times it's, it's more of a torticollis-type case. Either way, there's structural things that are need to be addressed. Um, and so many times people make the mistake of, of covering up a symptom, which is the worst thing you could possibly do. You know, we would never do that with our car. If the, if a light came in on our car, like "check engine soon", you think about how many people would actually take duct tape out and put that over the light and keep on driving. <laugh> it wouldn't, it wouldn't make any sense to do that, but how, but people do that with their body all the time. Unfortunately we'll take, you know, uh, pain meds to cover it up or muscle relaxers or things like that.

Dr. Myers (10:08):

None of that's gonna get to the cause of why that actually has been happening or is happening. And so just like it would be horrible to do with your car. Uh, your body has to last the rest of your life. And so it's so important to find someone who can actually help you get to the cause. And that's what CLEAR's all about really, is getting to the root cause so we can actually find out exactly where the problem's at, see how long it's been there and what we can do to get your body healing and functioning the way it was designed to.

Heather R (10:40):

That's wonderful. That's a great way to put it. If you had one piece of advice for someone who's dealing with scoliosis, neck pain, what would that be? Or would it just be, don't take a muscle relaxer or a Tylenol?

Dr. Myers (10:57):

Yeah, the, the big, uh, the big thing would be get checked. Yeah. Life's, life's too short to live less than your optimal function, the way you were designed to live. And so by getting evaluated by a CLEAR doctor, we can actually get to the root of a problem and help you get back to living life. Uh, you know, whether you're someone who enjoys being outside and being active or, uh, loves, you know, playing with your kids, your grandkids, uh, you don't wanna miss those moments. Uh, those are, you know, what life's all about and when we're in pain and not living to our optimal function, we're missing out on those opportunities. So the sooner we get, you know, on that and find, get some, finally get some answers, uh that's when people can really start getting their health back and getting back to what life is all about.

Heather R (11:54):

Yeah, exactly. There is hope.

Dr. Myers (11:57):

Yes, there is. Yep.

Heather R (11:59):

Thank you so much for joining us today. Dr. Mark, we look forward to having you again on a future episode.

Dr. Myers (12:05):

Thanks. I'd love to be back. Always a pleasure.

Heather R (12:09):

If you'd like more information on scoliosis, you can find additional podcasts, articles, blog posts, and much more information by visiting clear-institute.org. If you've recently been diagnosed and would like to find a CLEAR-certified doctor, click on the purple Find a Doctor button at the top of the page, search by your location, and find the doctor nearest you. More to come next week.

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Author: Dr. Mark Myers

Dr. Mark Myers had a passion for health that started at a young age while reading nutrition books. His passion continued in high school when he did research and reports on the effects of alternative medicine. Eventually, this led him to become a chiropractor. Seeing how his sister's health and function was affected on a daily basis by her scoliosis diagnosis, eventually led him to become CLEAR-certified in 2012.
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