Neck Pain, Headache and the Jaw Joint

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Houston Chiropractor Comments: Neck pain and headaches can be very disabling and can significantly alter a person’s normal pattern of living.  Simple things like reading the newspaper, cooking, driving a car, and/or looking down when feeding a baby, can become almost intolerable.  Canceling plans for the day or saying “no” to vacations can be very disheartening and often occurs because of severe neck pain and/or headache making these activities simply, “no fun.”  The cause of the headaches associated with neck pain and dysfunction is usually due to the compression caused by the tight neck muscles squeezing the upper three nerve roots in the neck region, resulting in radiating pain into the head.  Frequently, light and noise sensitivity, as well as nausea, can accompany a severe headache, which only adds to the activity limitations associated with neck pain. In fact, there are many experts who feel most headaches, even migraines, stem from the neck or are at least are very closely related.  Since neck pain affects approximately two thirds of the population at some point during their lifetime, it becomes clear that headaches, in the absence of neck pain, are quite uncommon. Neck Pain Houston

Another interesting and lesser-known relationship is the jaw (frequently referred to as the TMJ) and its association with neck function, especially the upper cervical vertebrae, as well as headaches.  The muscles that move the jaw/TMJ are largely innervated by the 5th cranial nerve, also called the trigeminal nerve.  Several studies have found that when stimulating structures innervated by the trigeminal nerve, neck and/or jaw pain was created and vise versa.  Similarly, patients with jaw problems (called temporomandibular dysfunction or, TMD) often report neck pain.  When we open our mouth wide, head-neck extension always occurs followed by head-flexion when we close the jaw.  Hence, the neck is always moving when we chew, yawn, talk, and clench our teeth.  In fact, all of these every day activities result in jaw, head, neck motion extending from the base of the skull and first cervical vertebra (occiput-C1) and continues down through the entire cervical spine.  This was investigated in a study where the relationship between neck symptoms, jaw function – specifically active mouth opening, and pressure pain sensitivity in a trigeminal nerve innervated region after a spinal manipulation was applied to the upper neck vertebrae.  Here, 37 female patients with neck pain were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups (control and experimental) and, before and after treatment, exams of mouth opening and pressure pain levels were measured.  The group receiving the upper neck manipulation showed a significant increase in active mouth opening motion as well as improved pressure pain tolerance compared to the control/non-manipulation group in a sample of woman with neck pain.  This study is very important as many people suffer from neck pain, headaches and TMD.  In order to properly treat these patients, one must focus on multiple regions, not just the neck area.  It has been demonstrated when we bite down, there is a corresponding tightening of two important muscles in the neck and upper back region.  Similarly, studies show relaxation of muscles in the neck, upper back and TMJ after spinal manipulation to the neck is applied.  Injuries to the TMJ are common but often not pursued by patients as often they’ll say, “my jaw clicks and snaps but I don’t think about it much.”

If you, a friend, or a loved one are struggling with neck pain in Houston, headaches, or TMD/jaw pain, we will properly assess your condition and administer the appropriate care that is required.  We also coordinate services with other health care providers when necessary.  This recommendation may represent one of most significant acts of kindness you can give to those that you truly care about.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!

5 Stretches that Can Help Your Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

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Clear Lake City Chiropractor Comments: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a debilitating disorder affecting the nerves that pass through the wrist and into the hand. In addition, compression can also occur in the neck region, making some patients’ problems more complex. At its essence, carpal tunnel syndrome is a disease of nerves but other tissues can also be affected. For example the joints of the wrist may lose their mobility through a combination of wrist braces or pain-avoidance behavior. Because the hand is used less, the shoulder and upper arm region may also get affected with tightness and weakness.


As pain continues, we may stop using a keyboard or playing certain sports or hobbies. All of this lack of activity makes muscles weaker and joint function further impaired. This is why it is important to maintain flexibility of your joints and muscles if you have this disorder.Carpal Tunnel Stretches


Two good stretches for the forearm and hand involve stretching into flexion, which lengthens the tissues on the back of the wrist and moving your fingers backwards, stretching the palm and the front of the forearm. You can do these two stretches by using your other hand to bend the fingers backwards and pulling the back of the hand forward. If either of these motions causes more pain, then you should avoid them.


Three additional stretches involve the elbow, wrist and neck. For the elbow, extend your arm out, stretching the front of the upper arm. You can also rotate the wrist by twisting it until the thumb points down maximally and outwards maximally. Check to see if you have the same flexibility on both sides; your goal will be to create symmetrical side to side movements.


The shoulder and neck are often neglected in carpal tunnel stretches but are critical because the nerve that goes through the wrist starts in the neck area and passes through the shoulder. Put both hands over your head and “reach for the stars.” You might also rotate your shoulders by moving your arms in large circles. This stretch will also affect the neck. It’s important to do your stretches slowly. Little by little the nerve will have more flexibility as it courses down the arm and this may help your hand symptoms.


Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!

Low Back Pain and Excessive Weight

Houston Chiropractor Comments: Two things that are epidemic in the U.S. are low back pain and obesity (being overweight). The two go hand-in-hand and while excessive weight may not be the only cause of your pain, it does makes matters worse by aggravating your pain through increased loading the disks of the low back. In addition, most people with low back pain or who are excessively heavy are also very inactive.

lower back painThe first step is to perform movements that don’t increase pain. For most people, walking can still be done. If your back hurts when you walk or you are so heavy, that walking causes your knees to ache, then you may need to start by walking in a pool. The important thing is to get moving because weight-loss will be helped if you can burn more calories. Walking will also improve the strength of your low back muscles, which may lessen your pain, making exercise more possible.

Over the years, the gradual increase in our waist size just sort of creeps up on us. When our back begins to give way, we then realize what a barrier being overweight has become.

Getting rid of your excessive weight is a simple formula of burning more calories than you consume. But, losing weight is not easy. Your genes will tell you to consume more because eating less than you need in a given day is not life sustaining. If you ate 500 less calories than you need each day, after a year or so, you’d be down to 80 or 90 pounds (depending on where you began) and eventually you would die. This is what you are up against when you’re losing weight. The body tells you “don’t do this” and gives you the craving to eat what you need. Despite this self-preservation mechanism, losing weight is possible and getting down to a proper weight is doable. For some people, psychological issues may be more at play. Do you eat to cover up or distract you from pain or anxiety? Are you really hungry, or has eating become a way to compensate for something more painful or difficult to confront?

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!

How Can Exercise Help Your Headache?

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Clear Lake Chiropractor Comments: For many patients with health conditions, exercising seems to be the furthest thing from their mind. For migraine sufferers, exercise itself can be a provocation for initiating a headache episode. And if you already have a headache, just the idea of going for a three mile run will likely increase your pain, not lessen it.

But exercise is an integral component to overall health and that includes people who suffer from headaches too.Exercise for Headaches

The key is to exercise when you are headache free, to manage your exercises so that your spine is not excessively stressed, and make sure you have good flexibility of your spine before you begin loading it with exercises.

This is where chiropractic enters the picture. Your spinal flexibility is integral to maintaining good posture and assuring nerve impulses transmit freely from your brain to distant areas of the body. If you have a spinal problem, or subluxation, this may interrupt the free transmission of nerve impulses and make you susceptible to headache.

You may want to consider getting adjusted before a strenuous exercise to make sure you have good spinal flexibility. After performing a strenuous activity, it may also be a good time to have your spine checked. Little by little, your spinal muscles will regain strength and you may find your headaches a less dominate part of your life.

Other points to consider are getting adequate rest/sleep and to avoid overtraining because sleep deprivation can provoke a headache. You will also need to pay attention to water intake. Being dehydrated may also be a trigger for people with headaches. The bottom line is this: if you get the spinal care you need, if you watch strenuous movements that strain the spine, and if you get adequate rest and sleep, then you can begin exercising again despite your chronic headaches. Many patients with headaches say that stress is a trigger for their pain. Regular exercise can be a great way to deal with the stresses of work. Exercise is also key to your maintaining a healthy weight.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!

Quality of Life with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

NASA Area Chiropractor comments: We sometimes take our hands for granted and fail to realize just how important they are to everyday life and indeed, living our life. Hands tell us who we are through our gestures and unique talents. If you think about all they do, everyday, from tying our shoes to generating income, it is staggering. Our hands also occupy a big place in our brains. The nerve cells in the brain are devoted, to a large degree, to hand function. It takes a lot of brainpower to play a guitar or piano, to write an essay, or to caress a friend with a loving touch.

So when hand function is diminished, the loss can be devastating. Such is the case with carpal tunnel syndrome. To anyone who suffers from this disorder, the loss is obvious. When quality of life Quality of Life with Carpal Tunnel Syndromeis studied in those with carpal tunnel syndrome, there are many aspects that are affected. Researchers (J Hand Surg Am 24(2):398) have learned that physical functioning is greatly affected. A person may not be able to work or engage in the hobbies they once loved. What’s more, there is also diminished mental quality of life, and reductions in vitality in these patients.

Our clinic treats patients with carpal tunnel symptoms in a comprehensive manner. We try to find the cause of the nerve compression. Sometimes it’s at the wrist and sometimes the neck is affected creating radiating pain down into the hand. Sometimes both the wrist and neck are affected (this is called double crush syndrome). In any case, getting back on to the road of recovery begins with an accurate diagnosis. Our treatments are specific to the cause of your problem. If the problem has been long term, then you may need rehabilitative exercises to restore the strength of your arm muscles and some patients will require different stretching techniques to help loosen tight muscles. If your neck is out of alignment or has poor posture, this may also need to be corrected for full recovery to occur. Eating the proper foods that do not add to wrist inflammation may also be a part of your care plan.

Dr. Ward Beecher practices at Beecher Chiropractic Clinic at 1001 Pineloch, Ste 700 Houston, TX 77062. You can schedule an appointment at or by calling (281) 286-1300. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please comment below!