In the cervical spine there are seven vertebrae, with a natural forward curve. Inter-vertebral discs join the vertebral bodies, each with a tough outer rim of cartilage and a jelly-like center. The discs act as shock absorbers. Spinal nerves exit from the spinal cord through openings (foramina) between the vertebrae, supplying the skin and muscles of the shoulders, arms and hands.
Causes of Body Stress to the Neck
Examples of mechanical causes include jarring or jerking the neck as in a fall or a whiplash from a car accident; working or reading with your head tilted downwards for lengthy periods of time; twisting the neck as when looking backwards while driving a car in reverse.
Mental and Emotional Causes
Examples are experiencing emotions such as intense anger, anxiety or shock. These cause a person to hunch their shoulders and tighten neck muscles. A state of ongoing depression will also bring about distortion in body posture. In addition, physical discomfort resulting from body stress will reinforce negative emotions leading to a vicious circle.
Exposure to harmful chemicals may severely irritate the nervous system causing neck muscles to tighten. This includes chemicals, which we inhale, such as car fumes or insecticides; substances, which we absorb through the skin, such as cleaning materials and certain cosmetics, as well as anesthesia from operations and prescribed or over the counter drugs. Some people react adversely to certain foods and to preservatives and artificial food colorings. Often an infection, such as a flu or cold virus, will also result in stress to the neck.
Effects of Neck Body Stress
Body stress stored in the neck structures may cause pain and stiffness or inability to fully turn the head. Since the lower neck supplies the nerves to the arms and hands, there may be pain or numbness in the shoulder, arm, hand or fingers. Muscles may be weakened, resulting in difficulty to grasp objects. Tension in the neck may also cause headaches or pain in the face or jaw. There may even be sensations of dizziness or nausea. This pressure may irritate the nerve pathways connected to the eyes, nose and mouth, which could adversely affect vision and the senses of smell and taste. Other effects include burning, dry mouth or excess saliva. Body stress in the neck may also impact nerve connections to internal organs, such as the heart, lungs and digestive system interfering with normal function.
Actual Case Stories
A woman of 28 had been experiencing almost constant headaches for six months, as well as a stiff and painful neck. She had two sessions of BSR. After each one, the pain withdrew but returned within a day. Detailed questioning revealed that she had started using a new skin cream about six months before. She stopped using it, and after one further session of BSR her neck stabilized and the headaches ceased.
A man of 42 complained of numbness in his arms, pins and needles in his fingers, and weakness of the hands. Body stress was released in his neck over three sessions. He reported that full sensation and strength had returned to his arms a week later.
A woman in her 30’s had suffered from frequent attacks from asthma since a neck whiplash in a car accident four months previously. After three sessions of BSR full movement was restored to her neck and all symptoms of asthma had ceased.
How to Minimize Neck Stress
- Never sleep on your stomach, as lying with your neck twisted can be harmful.
- If you sleep on your back use a soft pillow, which you can mold to support the hollow of your neck. Do not use thick pillows, which tilt the chin downwards.
- If you sleep on your side, double your pillow over to ensure that your head remains level and does not tilt towards your shoulder.
- Do not do neck exercises. They are not necessary and may stress the neck muscles.
- Each morning and evening and at any time when you may have stressed your neck (working with your head tilted down) take a few moments to check your neck for sensitive spots and ease them in the way your BSR practitioner has shown you.
- Beware of the basin at the hairdresser – insist on having a rolled-up towel between your neck and the edge of the basin.