When fear is breathing down your neck

Cervical spine problems and anxiety – there are correlations

Klaus Bernhardt
by Klaus Bernhardt

That cervical spine problems can lead to anxiety disorders in the long term is now clearly medically proven. Which measures help immediately and what you should better avoid, that’s what this blog article from the Institute for Modern Psychotherapy in Berlin is about.

Why you should never underestimate neck pain

As a result of accidents at home, during sports or in road traffic, it often happens that the ligaments holding our neck are overstretched. We then usually speak of a cervical spine trauma (C-spine trauma) or also of a whiplash injury. Our neck is then no longer as stable as it should be for a time and thus loses part of its protective function for the cranial nerves and the blood supply to the brain.

Blood vessels that are pinched by incorrect movement of the already slightly injured neck can no longer optimally supply the brain with oxygen and nutrients. The result is impaired concentration, fatigue and impaired perception. Irritations of various cranial nerves, which are also caused by an unstable neck, are anything but harmless. The specialist for internal medicine, Dr. Bodo Kuklinski, and the biologist Dr. Anja Schemionek list in their remarkable book “Your Neck – the Weakest Link” a whole range of symptoms that can occur in such a case. These include:

  • blurred or obscured vision
  •  swelling of the nose at night
  •  increased occurrence of dizziness or nausea
  •  repeated numbness in the arms or hands
  •  increased occurrence of headaches
  •  sudden hypersensitivity to certain smells
  •  frequent swallowing or “getting it in the wrong throat
  •  morning shoulder and neck pain
  •  sudden onset of sweating
  •  sudden onset of sleep disturbances
  •  the urge to empty the bladder extremely frequently at night or in the morning.

By the way, these symptoms do not have to appear immediately after a sprain or overstretching of the neck, but can also appear with a delay of several hours or even days.

When fear is breathing down your neck

Especially when the sympathetic nerve is irritated (this is the nerve responsible for our flight impulses), symptoms occur that are likely to be familiar to anxiety patients in particular: In addition to high blood pressure and breathing that is much too fast, these include indigestion, excessive sweating and heart palpitations. Even the extremely painful and not so rare spasms of the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles are associated with an irritation of the sympathetic nervous system.

And even though doctors are still at a loss as to how such “anal cramps” are causally triggered, I know from conversations with many patients that these cramps disappeared abruptly after the cervical spine was appropriately stabilized again.

Fears often have more than one trigger

Even though an irritated vagus nerve is one of the triggers for anxiety disorders that is most often overlooked, it still usually does not come alone. There are typically other triggers that also influence each other. If you want to get rid of an anxiety disorder quickly and, above all, permanently, you should therefore clarify all causes if possible. If you need help, we recommend our online video course “The anxiety cure”

 In it, you will learn with the help of simple tests which triggers could still come into question in your case. In addition, you will learn a number of new and highly efficient anxiety-stopping techniques that can often stop even panic attacks within a few seconds. By the way: You can watch the first episode of our video course right here for free.

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Dizziness and tinnitus: Also often just a problem with the cervical spine

Strong psychological tension causes our neck muscles to tense up. If such tensions occur more often, over time they cause the vagus nerve to become irritated. This can lead to various physical problems, especially tinnitus, dizziness and unsteady gait.

Today, it is believed that dizziness and ringing in the ears are caused by problems with the cervical spine in about 40% of all cases. If the occurrence of neck problems and the occurrence of dizziness or tinnitus in your case are close in time, you should definitely inform your doctor about a possible connection.

These actions help immediately

So the exciting question is: What immediate actions can you take if you too suspect unrecognized cervical trauma as the cause of your problems? First of all, it would be important not to make a potentially existing irritation worse. Therefore, the most significant immediate action is to spare your neck.

 Avoid sports that put a lot of stress on the spine or head from blows or impacts until the retaining ligaments in the neck have fully recovered. These include especially:

  • almost all martial arts
  • rugby, soccer, beach volleyball
  • skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey
  • motocross, karting
  • Horse riding

How long overstretched retaining ligaments of the neck need to regain their full protective function varies from case to case. However, as a precaution, calculate with at least 6 weeks, during which you should avoid particularly stressful sports.

But it would be fundamentally wrong not to do any more sports at all. Sufficient exercise is one of the basic requirements for producing the BDNF protein. This protein is one of the most important building blocks of our brain – and our mental health is only guaranteed if we have enough of it. So sparing by no means doing nothing at all, but rather switching to gentler sports such as walking, cross-country skiing or mountain hiking for a while.

In addition, you should actively restore the mobility and stability of your cervical spine and the surrounding muscles, for example, through isometric exercises. In addition, it would be helpful to visit a therapeutic practice that specializes in one of the following areas: Craniosacral therapy or the Feldenkrais method, which in my opinion is particularly recommended.

Wearing a neck brace is NOT recommended

Incidentally, the wearing of a neck brace, which was often prescribed in the past, is now viewed rather critically by many doctors. Although this prevents further overstretching of the already damaged retaining ligaments, those affected pay a high price for it. After only two days, the muscles in the neck and throat begin to retract. However, it is precisely these muscles (just like the retaining ligaments) that help to protect and stabilize the neck. It is therefore important to continue to move the head normally. Only very fast movements and excessive stretching should be consistently avoided for a few weeks.

If a cervical spine trauma results in a prolonged irritation of the sympathetic nerve, a vicious circle develops that has led many a doctor astray. It is not uncommon for only the after-effects of nerve irritation in the cervical spine to be treated for years, while the actual cause remains untreated. The reason for this is a zinc deficiency triggered by nerve irritation.

Zinc deficiency as a cause of other diseases

With repeated irritation of the sympathetic nervous system, the body excretes too much magnesium, potassium and zinc in the urine. Sooner or later, this leads to muscle cramps, cardiac arrhythmias, night blindness and digestive disorders. In addition, a zinc deficiency triggered in this way can lead to other diseases in the long term, as Dr. Kuklinski and Dr. Schemionek describe in their book Your Neck – the Weakest Linkas follows:

Zinc deficiency also impairs vitamins B1 (energy metabolism) and B6 (building amino acids for proteins), reduces the body’s protection against aggressive substances (radicals), increases the formation of the female hormone estrogen and reduces the effectiveness of digestive enzymes in the intestine, further increasing the problem of digestive disorders. If these persist for a long time, diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, intolerance to many foods or inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease) may also occur.

However, anyone who thinks they can counter all this by simply swallowing zinc tablets on a regular basis should be warned: Often, such a battered body does not easily tolerate zinc tablets. In addition, there is usually not only a lack of one substance, but rather the balance of minerals, trace elements, amino acids, vitamins and fatty acids is out of balance.

Micronutrients only help when used correctly

As a general rule, do not regulate a supposed deficiency of one of these substances on your own. As tempting as the offers of various combination products in pharmacies, drugstores and on the Internet may be, they only very rarely cover the exact deficiency that you may have. You don’t just go into a clothing store without knowing your size and which color suits you, and then put on the first thing that happens to be offered there. It is better to seek the advice of an experienced physician or alternative practitioner who is familiar with orthomolecular medicine.

Orthomolecular medicine focuses on the maintenance of health, as well as the targeted treatment of diseases caused by a deficiency of certain substances in the human body. Specifically, this meant: Only if you take the right micronutrients in the right order and taking into account any allergies, intolerances and interactions, your body can quickly get back on track.

By the way: You can recognize a good orthomolecular physician, among other things, by the fact that he does not permanently advise them to take dietary supplements. The goal is to correct an identified deficiency and to support your body so that it can fully manage all its functions on its own again. Once this has happened, sufficient exercise and a healthy and conscious diet are sufficient in the vast majority of cases to make you physically and mentally fit and resilient again.

Also take a look at our new video course “The Anxiety Cure”. The first 3 episodes of our 53-part video course for anxiety patients are free.