Do you often suffer from a stiff neck? Do you ever feel an uncomfortable tingling sensation on your neck, shoulders, and arms? Sometimes the sensation might travel down to your hands and fingers or manifest as a sharp pain in the affected areas. These are just some of the symptoms associated with a subluxation or herniation on the 3rd cervical vertebra (C3). This week’s article is a continuation of our series on the spine and we will focus on the C3. Read on for more. About the C3 Vertebra C3 is in the last portion of the upper neck which makes sense why it affects the neck and upper body. The nerves that come out of this vertebra play a huge role in sending sensory messages from below the neck to the brain and conveying motor signals from the brain to the body. The misalignment of this vertebra significantly affects our ability to use critical organs such as ears, facial nerves, and teeth. A misaligned C3, would affect our ability to show facial expressions like smiling or frowning. This vertebra also contributes to neck rotation and flexibility, which is why a C3 misalignment can lead to a stiff and sore neck. Symptoms of a misaligned C3 Vertebra Some of the most common symptoms of a C3 misalignment include pain in the chest, arms, wrists, hands, and fingers. You may also feel a tingling in your arms and hands. A disc herniation can lead to excruciating pain when trying to turn your neck from side to side. This can limit neck motion and negatively affect your ability to perform simple activities like driving your car. Most of the time, disc subluxation or herniation symptoms develop gradually over time. But, sometimes the condition can advance quickly and suddenly. That’s why we at Philani Natural Health recommend doing regular maintenance therapy to keep your spine in “ship shape!” Causes Here are some of the most common causes of disc subluxation or herniation: – Aging: As we age, the intervertebral discs dehydrate and lose their resilience, leading to disc herniation. This is known as cervical degenerative disc disease and it can cause pressure on the joints and muscles as well as a stiff and/or painful neck. – Accidents: Disc herniation can also happen because of an accident or unintentionally snapping and displacing the C3 vertebra. Once this happens, spinal fluid leaks out from the disc, causing an uncomfortable pressure on the neck that won’t go away. – Lifestyle factors: Certain lifestyle factors such as regular tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of exercise can also increase your risk. Poor posture can also place pressure on the cervical spine and lead to disc herniation. – Text neck: This refers to the position that most of us take while texting or using the computer. This position is characterized by slouching for long periods of time. Certain movements like incorrect twisting, lifting and daily wear and tear worsen the situation and cause intense pain in these areas. The Solution Your first line of defense against a herniated disc should be manual physiotherapy and exercise. Within 2 to 4 sessions of manual therapy, you should experience relief from pain and symptoms so that you can get back to living life as normal. Manual therapy can also help you avoid surgery and painful needle injection therapies which are considered as the last line of defense. The easiest way to get your disc back in shape is to start therapy as soon as the problem arises. This is not a quick fix but over time it will eliminate the problem completely and more sustainably. Prevention Aging is inevitable and none of us can escape it. But, you can take measures to reduce your risk of developing a herniated disc. This includes regular exercise, practicing good posture and eating well. Be sure to consume the following nutrients and supplements to care for your joints and strengthen to strengthen your bones: – Calcium: green leafy vegetables (i.e. kale, spinach, bok choy), oranges, almonds, blackstrap molasses, etc. – Vitamin D3, K2, B12, and C: Green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, strawberries, red and green peppers, sweet potatoes, etc. – Magnesium: green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, whole grains, avocados, bananas, etc. – Glucosamine: reduces osteoarthritis-related pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints – MSM is a sulfur-containing supplement that helps with joint repair. – Tumeric, the curcumin in Tumeric is a helpful aid against inflammation. – Devils Claw: a herb that helps with muscle and joint pain. Conclusion A lot of the work we do here at Philani requires a thorough knowledge of anatomy. And we enjoy sharing this knowledge with you hoping it will enable you to better understand your body. Aging is inevitable and none of us can escape it. But, you can take measures to reduce your risk of developing a herniated disc. This includes regular exercise, practicing good posture, eating well and taking preventative manual therapy sessions. Good news! We’re offering free assessments to anyone that books an appointment through our website. Head over to our appointment page to book your free assessment and start your journey to better health today.