Bedside lights

Good bedside lights are important for preventing neck pain and eye strain.

Bedside lights are an important factor in the health of your cervical spine. Craning your neck to get enough direct rays from the traditional lamp certainly contributes to neck pain, and eye strain too; it may undo the best laid plans of your chiropractor and optician.

There is fortunately a fairly simple solution, though the graphic above isn't it. It's not clearly seen but we have two fittings, with a couple LED lamps each; one is run from solar and the other from mains; that's not a subject for discussion here, and something of a luxury. 

The lamps can easily be adjusted, both shining over the shoulders, one for the good wife, and the other for me. Three watts is quite adequate for each, providing ample light without either of us having to crane our necks.

As an aside, I expect every chiropractor has a cupboard full of gifts brought by grateful patients; notice that beautiful embroidered cushion. I use it daily and think of Joy often. 

A padded and quilted headboard is not difficult to make, look on the net for directions, and certainly makes sitting back and reading a lot more comfortable.

It took me a few hours to make the frame and we did the quilting together; it's one of those tasks where two people means you can do it in less than half the time.

If you have neck troubles, and a conventional bedside lamp, I urge you to make the change; it's simple.

A headboard with reading lamps.

The two on the left are powered by the utility which often fails; then we use those on the right; batteries charged by the sun are the source of their energy.

Solar generator is for capturing sunlight and using it for example for bedside lights.

Bedside lights

Bedside lights should be directly above and between the pillows in a double bed and directed over your shoulder.

Wiring bedside lights.

You will need a simple light fitting that can be attached to the wall, with two heads that can be rotated.

  • A length of conduit
  • Three core wire if the fitting is made of metal, as it has to be earthed.
  • A switch, and a plug.

Attach the fitting to the wall about one metre above your bed. If it's higher you can't easily reach it to switch it off; if you place it lower you may bump your head on the lamps. You may want to practise a little to find a height that suits you.

Next, attach the switch to the wall directly below the lamp; perhaps your light fitting has one built in, but then you have to reach up higher. This to my mind is the ideal.

Then plug the conduit to the wall directly below the fitting to the switch, and then another down to the skirting; it just neatens things up so you don't have untidy wires hanging down. Use a level so everything is plumb.

Run the wiring from the lamp, through the switch, to the plinth at floor level and along to the nearest plug socket. Only the live is broken as it passes through the breaker; let the neutral pass straight through.

Make sure the fitting is earthed, and plug it in at the socket; it's very basic electrics for most men, and I've no doubt a good many women.

LED lamps are the future; today make the decision never to buy another incandescent lamp. I don't like CFLs either; they are filled with mercury and use about three times a much electricity.

You will immediately feel the benefit in your neck and less eye strain too. Many of us have either a reversed lordosis in the neck from an old whiplash, or a curvature due to a short leg, or injury to the spine. Couple that with twisting your neck to get sufficient light and it will cost you at least an extra half a dozen visits every year to the chiropractor, and a lot of pain. Old fashioned bedside lights are the pits.

You may be wondering, why am I trying to do your chiropractor out of business? I can assure you we like patients who get better and stay well. Those who keep coming back with niggling pain are never happy, and they don't refer us their friends and neighbours. if it's something as simple as the correct bedside light that will keep you and your chiropractor happy, then do it.

One small thought may be relevant. If you wake in the night and like to read, then perhaps two separate lamps may be the answer, one above each of your heads.

Often there's a trigger that sets off your neck pain, and it's often unknown. You go to bed at night, wake up in the morning with no difficulties, stretch or move slightly and you have a severe, uncompromising spasm. It may be an invaginated capsule that causes a severe torticollis, or irritation of the joints of Luschka causing tingling down your arm. Or an upper cervical or occipital subluxation that sets off your migraines.

Make sure that your bedside lights aren't the underlying cause of your problems. They are very pretty, but have no place in the bedroom. Or, have them, and a reading lamp above your head. Remember, roughly three feet up is probably the right height.

Chiropractic help

It's time for a new movement in health care, away from making patients chronically dependent on their doctors for medication and manipulations. If your chiropractic help isn't emphasizing exercises, changes of posture, evaluating your position at the computer and factors like bedside lights, then it may be time to make a change.

On that subject, if you possibly can, move away from spending long hours on the laptop to a conventional computer. Have someone who is knowledgeable check out the ergonomics of your station.

And if your doctor has only more pills to offer from for your neck pain, then it's definitely time to make a move to chiropractic help; and perhaps a regular massage. We don't have the perfect solution to your neck pain, because there isn't one. Ask any professional and they will admit that chronic neck pain is a toughie.

Research shows that if you've had neck pain for over five months, you've got it for ever, whatever the treatment. An occasional, but regular chiropractic adjustment in a maintenance care program, coupled with exercises and a massage is our solution to the problem; it isn't perfect.

Cervical facet syndrome

There are five joints between each pair of vertebrae in your neck. All can give you beans, but the most common is the cervical facet syndrome. They become worn after injury and scoliosis and are a great source of pain, but the chiropractic adjustment is the treatment of choice.

Are there dangers associated with chiropractic manipulation? Yes, there certainly are, but incidents are so few and far between that to all intents and purposes you can ignore them, unless you are a young woman, smoker and on the pill.

Roughly one in six million persons will have a stroke within 30 days of a chiropractic manipulation, and there's no certainty that was the cause anyway. An equal number have consulted their medical doctor in that period of time. Researchers now agree that it was going to happen anyway, regardless of who you consulted.

Chiropractors have very low malpractice insurance premiums for a good reason; claims are rarely successful.

Nevertheless, if you are having more than 15-20 chiropractic help treatments per annum for the same condition, then it's time to be thinking about factors like bedside lights, computer ergonomics, sleeping posture and a daily set of gentle exercises.

LED lights

Whether you are looking to save the planet by reducing your carbon footprint, or simply want to save money, Light Emitting Diode lamps, also known as LED lights, are the future. They use 1/20th of the electricity and last for years, unless you have very dirty power. Next time you go shopping, buy LED light bulbs

They make especially good bedside lights as the light is concentrated in a small beam with no waste. Positioned above your bed, and beaming over your shoulder they make for the perfect reading environment.

Useful links

› Bedside lights

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

Your own unresolved problem. Pose a question

Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

You visited this chiropractic help site no doubt because you have a problem that is not resolving and want to know more about what chiropractors do.

The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my ebooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful, from the life and work of a chiropractor, you'll love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the price without telling me.