High blood pressure, or hypertension, does not have a strict set of symptoms or causes. It looks different on everyone: one person may discover their high blood pressure after suffering severe headaches or nausea; another may not experience any symptoms at all.
As chiropractors that focus on holistic solutions, we pay attention to patients who suffer from hypertension alongside any type of pain along the spinal cord. This includes all types of cervical (neck) pain.
Neck pain may just be the result of sitting at a desk too much, but it could also be a symptom of something more serious. If you find yourself waking up with a stiff neck, understand the causes and effects of neck pain, how high blood pressure affects neck pain (and vice versa), and when it may be time to visit a medical professional.
How Does High Blood Pressure Cause Neck Pain?
Depending on where your high blood pressure originates, you may experience different types of neck pain or back pain.
For example, high blood pressure can exist throughout the body, but may be concentrated in the head and neck area. This is called intracranial hypertension, and if left alone it can cause serious damage or even death. Intracranial hypertension can bring pressure down from the head throughout the neck, which will expand the nerve sheaths (the area that protects the nerves) until they make contact with the muscles around your neck. At this point, you may suffer from a severely stiff neck.
Hypertension or high blood pressure also can reduce the body’s ability to bring blood and nutrients to the spine. This makes discs and other parts of the spine weaker. We strain our necks every day by working in an office job or looking down at our phone – high blood pressure makes it harder to combat the negative effects of these bad habits.
The opposite is true as well. Neck and back pain put a lot of stress on the body, which can lead to high blood pressure. The connection between the two can cause a nasty cycle of pain and health problems throughout your entire body.
Want some good news?
If you reduce your neck pain, it may also help you to lower your blood pressure. Likewise with reducing high blood pressure. Here’s how to do both.
How to Reduce Neck Pain
De-Stress – This is a suggestion to people experiencing neck pain, back pain, high blood pressure, or any sort of physical condition, really. Simply put, when we are stressed, we are less likely to regain our health when we are hit with pains, strains, or other physical conditions. Make de-stressing a priority in your life and you will experience more happiness and health for years to come.
Think about Your Posture – Many of us spend hours a day on our phones or computers, looking down and causing strain on our neck. Why? Because this is an unnatural way to carry ourselves.
We can’t recommend that you quit your desk job (though reducing the amount of time you spend scrolling through your phone is a good idea), it is still possible to reduce neck strain and pain while you are at your desk.
Take some time to stretch your neck before and during the work day. Leave a reminder on your desk about sitting up with proper posture. This will work to reverse the damage that is being done on our neck and back, and let nutrients flow more easily to the affected areas.
Visit a Chiropractor or Medical Professional – The neck is fragile, but it’s an important part of the spinal cord. A chiropractor can help assess your neck pain and give you adjustments or other treatments if your neck pain is caused by misalignment. An acupuncturist can help increase the flow of blood and nutrients to the neck and other parts of the spine.
Intracranial hypertension is a serious condition. You should visit a doctor immediately when you are experiencing symptoms that everyday fixes cannot alleviate.
How to Lower High Blood Pressure
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, most likely your doctor will offer or suggest medications to take. However, there are also ways to lower your blood pressure naturally.
Some habits you can change or take up to reduce hypertension include:
- Watching your weight and waistline
- Eating a healthy diet
- Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet
- Exercising to lose a few pounds
- Cutting out or reducing alcohol/caffeine consumption
- Quitting smoking
- Monitoring your blood pressure at home or through regular appointments with your physician
As chiropractors, we can’t make you quit smoking or drinking coffee, but we can offer suggestions for a healthy diet and exercise regimen to help you lose weight and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
If your high blood pressure and neck pain go hand in hand, don’t be afraid to reach out to a chiropractor. We can help you reduce symptoms, the overall condition of hypertension, and provide many more services so you can live pain-free through natural, holistic solutions.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.