Many of those with neck pain suffer because of the way they sleep, slouch and move throughout the night and day, putting unnecessary stress on the joints, stretching nerves, ligaments and muscles into uncomfortable positions and, over time, causing chronic degeneration of spinal structures. These things together account for the majority of cases of neck and back pain but there is another major cause of suffering, namely diet and lifestyle factors causing neck pain through toxicity and undernourishment.
Recognizing the Problem of Pain
Unnatural convenience foods, highly-processed foods, plastic-wrapped refined and modified foodstuffs – these are all unfamiliar to our bodies and can provoke strong reactions that affect our general health. The problem is that when we eat these kinds of things daily it is hard to ever recall a time where we actually felt healthy and symptoms such as neck pain, tiredness and muscle aches simply get ascribed to acute factors, psychological stress and overwork.
How Chronic Suboptimal Health Makes Chronic Pain Seem Normal
Taking a step back from our usual routine and taking a good close look at the diet we regularly eat, the work we do and the leisure activities we engage in can reveal a whole host of potential problems that, when added together, become a clear contributor to ill-health. Temporary lapses in healthy food intake may not be such a huge problem for those who have physically undemanding jobs and whose exposure to environmental toxins is low.
Diet, Toxicity and Stress
Similarly, a brief exposure to environmental toxins, such as chemicals in hair-dyes, bug sprays used when camping, or even chemicals in make-up, aftershave and skin lotions may not be a fast-track to ill health if the diet is generally great with lots of antioxidants and healthy substances to rid the body of these toxins. We do not, however, keep these things separate; instead, our daily routines expose us to toxins, leave us lacking in nourishment, pile on stress from work and relationships, prevent us getting restorative sleep and leave us feeling tired, achy, and oftentimes too cranky and demotivated to do anything about these feelings.
Spinal Degeneration Triggers
When the body is stressed, whether through physical or psychological means, it is harder for environmental toxins and toxic metabolites of bodily processes to be effectively neutralized and removed from the system. Toxins that are not properly removed in a timely fashion can begin to damage cells, affect hormone function and lead to obesity (putting more weight on the joints and causing more pain), increase inflammation and trigger a cascade of degenerative changes in the body’s tissues, including those of the spine. Alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, animal products, recreational and prescribed drugs, and refined foods loaded with simple carbohydrates that spike blood sugar are all liable to perpetuate this inflammation and provoke even faster degeneration of tissues.
Neck Pain as an Inevitable Process
A lack of proper nourishment prevents the cell membranes from functioning correctly, obstructs good electrical signalling between nerves and muscles, affects the ability of the bones to stay strong as calcium leaches from them to correct blood acidity imbalances. Eventually, the chronic stresses and dysfunction create acute symptoms and signs such as sharp neck pain, muscle spasms, disc herniation and spinal fracture. A body that is riddled with toxicity, swollen with oedema (water retention) and inflamed is liable to be one that then becomes medicated rather than nourished and cleansed. The process continues and symptoms worsen, with medication increased or changed and other medications or invasive procedures added to the mix.
Healing the Body to Relieve Neck Pain
What if, instead of taking this route to premature spinal degeneration and a long, futile battle against the body itself, you stepped outside of this paradigm of sickness and took the road of health instead? Applying just one therapy for one set of symptoms is unlikely to be effective, even if it is a natural therapy such as chiropractic treatment, herbal anti-inflammatories or acupressure. Instead, a complete overhaul is often needed to reduce exposure to toxins, relieve unnecessary stresses, and to add nourishing foods to the diet to replace those that are triggering ill-health, neck pain and fuelling fatigue.
An Important Overview of Neck Pain
Spine specialists may be able to tell you where specific structural changes are causing symptoms but they do not take an overview of lifestyle factors that have likely got you to that point of acute pain. A naturopathic doctor will perform a thorough physical assessment and ask questions about symptoms that you may simply take for granted as part of the struggle of daily living, symptoms that can be linked to your neck pain and back pain. Suggestions and guidance can be given to remove stimulants, reduce reliance on medications, improve your general working environment and lower toxin exposure, and to build a diet that will help your body perform admirably and better cope with unavoidable stresses and strains. It may even be that a raft of symptoms like neck pain, hair loss, weight gain and tiredness are all found to have a shared root, such as thyroid disease.
Patient/Doctor Partnership for Neck Pain Relief
This process relies on a partnership between the patient and their doctor and, for many, it is the road less travelled that seems simply too hard to choose. The difference is clear, however, with chronic health issues often lessened or relieved altogether, new health challenges met and dealt with quickly and effectively by a stronger body, and a longer and healthier life suffused with energy and without chronic pain. A little hard work in the short term quickly becomes a routine of healthy habit with the only side-effects being extra benefits of health and happiness.
Challenging Neck Pain Inevitability
Neck pain is not an inevitable part of ageing, neither is a lifestyle of stress, toxicity and ill-health. Choose a physician who does not just prescribe a pill for pain but one who, instead, asks questions about that pain, its origins, and other aspects of your health and wellbeing. Choosing a doctor who challenges you to take responsibility for your health may not be the easy route but the benefits are enormous, especially where you work together to quickly identify those lifestyle factors affecting your neck and back pain and take steps to address them.