Dr. Jobyna Whiting - Health Channel

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Dr. Jobyna Whiting

Posture is one of the most important things that can affect how your necks feels.

“We have several muscles that attach from our head and from our neck down to the lower part of our body. Maintaining good neutral posture is going to keep you from overworking those muscles in the wrong kind of way that can lead to muscle spasms”, says Jobyna Whiting, Neurosurgeon at Baptist Health Neuroscience Center.

Stress plays into neck pain in two ways. According to Whiting, one is the mental health picture of it and the depression and the other is muscle spasms. We can take care of our necks to avoid chronic pain. Jobyna Whiting, Neurosurgeon at Baptist Health Neuroscience Center, gives some tips: being mindful of when the neck is starting to hurt, what is making it worse and what kind of movements we can adjust to get some of that pressure off the neck.

She highlights the most important tip is to stop doing whatever we are doing that is causing the pain.

There is a difference between ice vs. heat when people want to put something to help the pain. The doctor explains heat works better for muscle spasms and ice helps things like inflammation. Texting is one of the most current issues for neck pain. “Every one of us almost all the time has our phone with us”, says Jobyna Whiting, Neurosurgeon at Baptist Health Neuroscience Center.

Having that position for texting is not neutral and having it hour after hour when your neck is not supposed to be in that same position constantly causes a real problem for your neck.

There are some angles that put a lot of weight on the neck causing a lot of pain. We have to avoid them in order to take care of our health. Back pain is probably one of the most common things that afflicts Americans, according to Neurosurgeon Jobyna Whiting, who explains that most Americans will suffer at least one episode of major back pain during their lifetimes, “because throughout our lifetime the low back bears the brunt of our load and the work that our back is doing.”

“The spine is divided into multiple different areas. The first seven bones being the cervical spines. The next 12 being the thoracic and that’s where the ribs are attached and then the lumbar spine. That’s where people usually get back aches. When people talk about back pain they’re typically talking about their lumbar spine and maybe the very top of their sacrum,” says Whiting.

The specialist adds that when all the weight of the body rests on these bones, “almost everyone is prone to back pain, despite early symptoms, like childhood scoliosis, because they’re more clinical than anatomical, but everybody is prone to it,” Whiting says. Genetics, age and lifestyle are three main factors for back pain, according to Neurosurgeon Jobyna Whiting, who also says that back pain is not necessarily associated with birth.

“The vast majority of Americans who suffer from back problems has nothing to do with what they were born with.” The specialist explains if the problem is genetics, there is not much that can be done. The other factor is the “amount of time that the people have been alive and how they use their spine during that time. Many Americans come to get help when the pain is uncontrolled.”

Also, she states that not everybody needs a spine surgery. “Statistically speaking, you don’t need a surgery for the back. Most people who have come forward with a spine surgery are probably in their 50s, 60s or 70s”, adds the specialist who states not all of them need it. Neurosurgeon Jobyna Whiting explains the consequences that back pain can have on daily life and how it can affect the development of people.

The doctor says although the pain in each individual is different, in all cases it interferes with the patient’s activities. “It can be a snowball effect as soon as people start having pain and can’t do normal activities. When stopping normal activities, people start gaining weight and even become depressed. Chronic pain and depression are absolutely something that go hand-in-hand.”

Troubles at sleeping are another consequence of back pain. In this sense, the doctor highlights many of her patients have told her they only can sleep in a reclining chair or in a position by placing a pillow between their legs.

“One of the things that they complain about very frequently or want to discuss about is how difficult it is for them to sleep,” she says. In some jobs people face repetitive motion that can affect muscles, for example, firefighters carry heavy loads and that can put them at risk.

Jobyna Whiting, Neurosurgeon at Baptist Health Neuroscience Center, says that people who work at a desk and are working on a computer and have the same repetitive posture have chronic wear and tear on their necks.

Anybody who has to do repetitive load with their neck that is not in a neutral position will be affected with muscles spasms.


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