How to Prevent Neck Injury while Painting?

Neck injury prevention

Recently, I was painting my ceiling, and my neck and arms became very sore.

How can I prevent my neck and arms from getting sore the next time that I paint?

Painting is a very challenging task for your neck and arms. It involves a great deal of sustained overhead work with your arms, and also involves looking up with your neck for extended periods. When you make your arms work overhead for several minutes, it is difficult for your body to pump blood to your arms, and your muscles become tired and achy. Also, with your neck looking up for several minutes, it puts a great deal of stress on the spinal cord and nerve structures in the back of your neck. You may start to feel tingling or numbness into your hands after awhile. These are all signs that it is time to take a small rest.

The key to preventing neck and arm pain while painting, it to take a break from painting every hour and do a small stretch. If your neck and arms fatigue faster than that, take a break sooner. You can move your neck from side to side so that your ear is trying to touch your shoulder, keeping your head looking forwards. Hold each side for 30 seconds and repeat. Another stretch to do is looking down, and then side bend your head. You should feel the stretch on the opposite side that you side bend your head. Finally, to get a full extension stretch of your neck, tuck your chin in first, then look up to the ceiling, with you chin being the last to let go. Only go back as far as is comfortable, don’t push it.

If your neck and arm pain persists for a few weeks without going away, contact your physician, or a physiotherapist.

Helpful hints by Tina and Connie at the Halton Community Rehabilitation Centre, 86 Main Street East, Milton, 876-1515.

Back Pain and Neck Pain while Driving

Back pain and neck pain while driving

I notice that I get low back pain and neck pain when I am driving in my car. What can I do to stop this?

Low back and neck pain that comes on when driving is usually a result of being in a sustained posture for a longer period of time than is usual for you. When you are not in a car, you probably change positions regularly, which will give the muscles and ligaments in your back time to rest and allow other muscles to work. When you are driving, you are limited in how much you can change positions, so the key is to put yourself in the optimum position!
Your back has a normal curvature with a slight “arch” at the base of your spine, and at the top of your spine in your neck. Ideally, keeping your spine in that normal curvature when driving will decrease your back and neck pain.

Try not to recline the back of the seat too much. When you do this, the automatic response is for you to slouch at the base of the spine, and poke your chin out and move the neck forward. It is hard work for the muscles around your neck to hold this position and often the shoulder muscles tighten up and feel tired. Also, if your neck is in a forward head position, it could pinch some of the nerves in your neck that exit the spinal canal and head out to stimulate the muscles in your arms. You may feel a burning sensation or pain going down one or both arms. If this happens to you, check what position your head is in, and if it is forward, put your seat up and bring your head back in line with your body.

Ideally, you should drive with your head resting on the back of your headrest, and keeping the shoulders and arms relaxed. In this position, your neck muscles are working minimally to keep the head up, and therefore, get to rest.

For the low back, avoid the slouching position. Keep the back of your seat up tall and if your car seat has a good curvature at the base of the spine, you should minimize your low back pain. If your seat does not have a good curvature, roll a towel up and place it at the base of your spine in between your back and the seat and then sit back and relax. Your back will rest in its ideal position. If you find it makes you ‘arch’ too much, use a smaller towel.

Finally, if your pain still persists, consult a physiotherapist or your family physician.

Helpful Hints brought to you by Tina and Connie from HCRC, 85 Main Street East, Milton, ON.

Osteoarthritis of the Spine Causing Back Pain


Can Spinal Decompression help when Back Pain is caused by Osteoarthritis of the Spine?

Osteoarthritis is a condition describing the general wear and tear of the cartilage which covers the ends of each bone in a joint. It can be any joint in the body, your spine included, which can cause your low back pain. These joints in your spine are called “facet joints” in medical terms.

As with any condition, there are varying severities. Some people have mild OA as we call it, others have moderate to severe.

Spinal Decompression can help to unload the joints which may help reduce inflammation and lower your back pain.

The gentle light stretching of spinal decompression could also improve your flexibility and range of motion. You may also need your physiotherapist to mobilize the joints in your spine, once the pain has settled with spinal decompression. Just improving the range of motion of a joint and strengthening the muscles around the joint can make a world of difference. Why live with low back pain when you might not have to?