The connection between our sinuses and headaches is well established, but what about the relationship between neck pain and our sinuses? Is there a connection?
Sinusitis is very common in the spring when pollen counts are high and times when the cold and flu are rampant. It usually manifests with a clear runny nose and pain over the affected sinuses and other “histamine” related symptoms (watery eyes, sneezing, etc.).
The Mayo Clinic states at least two of four primary symptoms of chronic sinusitis (CS) need to be present to confirm a CS diagnosis: 1) thick, discolored nasal discharge or drainage down the back of the throat (post-nasal drip); 2) nasal obstruction due to congestion that interferes with nasal breathing; 3) pain, tenderness, and swelling in the eyes, face, nose, forehead; 4) a reduced sense of taste and smell in adults and a cough in children.
Other CS symptoms can include: 1) ear pain; 2) jaw or teeth pain; 3) cough—often worse at night; 4) sore throat; 5) bad breath (halitosis); 6) fatigue; 7) irritability; 8) nausea; and 9) neck pain. Acute sinusitis has similar signs and symptoms when compared with CS, but they are short-lived. Symptoms that warrant a primary care consideration include: 1) high fever; 2) severe headache; 3) mental confusion; 4) visual changes—double vision, blurriness, etc.; and 5) profound neck pain and stiffness.
Causation of CS include: 1) Nasal polyps; 2) deviated septum; or 3) other medical conditions (cystic fibrosis complications, gastroesophageal reflux or HIV and other autoimmune system-related diseases) that can block the nasal passage.
Risk factors for CS include: 1) nasal passage conditions (polyps, deviated septum); 2) asthma; 3) aspirin sensitivity (due to respiratory problems); 4) immune system disorder (HIV/AIDS or cystic fibrosis); 5) hay fever/allergies; 6) pollutant exposure (air pollution, cigarette smoke).
Complications of CS: 1) meningitis; 2) infection migration such as to the bones (osteomyelitis) or to the skin (cellulitis); 3) sense of smell loss (partial or complete “anosmia”); 4) vision problems (including blindness).
Many are not aware that neck pain and stiffness and jaw or teeth pain are symptoms of CS. Conditions like this are a reminder that it’s important for both the doctor and patient to be aware of ALL the symptoms present, even if they seem like they aren’t connected. While doctors of chiropractic are trained to look for non-mechanical causes for neck pain when a patient seeks care, it makes it easier if the patient is forthcoming with all their symptoms, even the ones that don’t seem relevant.
The good news is that doctors of chiropractic are trained to manage CS and can offer patients advice on lifestyle changes that may reduce the risk of the infection recurring. Furthermore, chiropractors often work with allied healthcare professionals when antibiotics or other measures are needed.
Content Courtesy of Chiro-Trust.org. All Rights Reserved.
It’s been said that if you haven’t had back pain, just wait, because (statistically) some day you will! The following list is a list of “causes” that can be easily “fixed” to reduce your risk for a back pain episode.
1. MATTRESS: Which type of mattress is best? The “short answer”: there is no single mattress (style or type) for all people, primarily due to body type, size, gender, and what “feels good.” TRY laying on a variety of mattresses (for several minutes on your back and sides) and check out the difference between coiled, inner springs, foam (of different densities), air, waterbeds, etc. The thickness of a mattress can vary from 7 to 18 inches (~17-45 cm) deep. Avoid mattresses that feel like you’re sleeping in a hammock! A “good” mattress should maintain your natural spinal curves when lying on your sides or back (avoid stomach sleeping in most cases). Try placing a pillow between the knees and “hug” a pillow when side sleeping, as it can act like a “kick stand” and prevent you from rolling onto your stomach. If your budget is tight, you can “cheat” by placing a piece of plywood between the mattress and box spring as a short-term fix.
2. SHOES: Look at the bottom of your favorite pair of shoes and check out the “wear pattern.” If you have worn out soles or heels, you are way overdue for a new pair or a “re-sole” by your local shoe cobbler! If you work on your feet, then it’s even more important for both managing and preventing LBP!
3. DIET: A poor diet leads to obesity, which is a MAJOR cause of LBP. Consider the Paleo or Mediterranean Diet and STAY AWAY from fast food! Identify the two or three “food abuses” you have embraced and eliminate them – things with empty calories like soda, ice cream, chips… you get the picture! Keeping your BMI (Body Mass Index) between 20 and 25 is the goal! Positive “side-effects” include increased longevity, better overall health, and an improved quality of life!
4. EXERCISE: The most effective self-help approach to LBP management is exercise. Studies show those who exercise regularly hurt less, see doctors less, have a higher quality of life, and just feel better! This dovetails with diet in keeping your weight in check as well. Think of hamstring stretches and core strengthening as important LBP managers – USE PROPER TECHNIQUE AND FORM; YOUR DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC CAN GUIDE YOU IN THIS PROCESS!
5. POSTURE: Another important “self-help” trick of the trade is to avoid sitting slumped over with an extreme forward head carriage positions. Remember that every inch your head pokes forwards places an additional ten pounds (~4.5 kg) of load on your upper back muscles to keep your head upright, and sitting slumped increases the load on your entire back!
We have only scratched the surface of some COMMON causes and/or contributors of back pain. Stay tuned next month as we continue this important conversation!
We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs. If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.