hair washing and neck pain
Researchers at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark say people
with neck problems who frequently visit their hair salon risk developing
a painful neck condition. They have dubbed it Salon Sink Radiculopathy
(SSR), or injury to nerve roots going from the spinal cord to extremities.
"This is a newly recognized phenomenon," Dr. Patrick Foye
said. It is a particlular risk for people with arthritis or neck
injuries from traffic, work or sports accidents. Other researchers
previously have published case reports of people suffering strokes
at hair salons when they lean back for a shampoo.
Experts recommend padding the sink edge with towels, having your
hair washed face down, or washing your hair at home before a visit
to the salon. Pain specialists at the New Jersey school have spotted
nearly a dozen patients with the problem since first diagnosing
it several months ago. "I wouldnt recommend having your
hair washed in a beauty salon to anyone," said one patient.
He suffered so much pain a day after getting his hair washed before
a haircut six months ago that he couldnt move his neck. A
60-year-old South Plainfield billing clerk who developed a pinched
neck nerve from a computer-related work injury, said one of her
twice-a-month beauty parlor visits worsened the problem. "I
was amazed to know that just lying in a chair in a beauty parlor
could cause these kinds of problems," she said. "I noticed
when I picked my head up out of the sink, the pain was more severe."
SSR generally causes pain radiating from the neck down one or
both arms. It is usually treatable with medication and therapy,
but surgery may be necessary. Dr. Faye Chiou-Tan, assistant chief
of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine
in Houston, said doctors should warn patients with pinched nerves
that leaning their heads back in a hair salon sink can worsen their
injuries. "The patients need to advocate for themselves and
say, Im serious. Dont put me in this position,"
she said. Dr. Andrew Cole, medical director of the Spine Center
at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Wash., said such nerve-root injuries
can occur when the neck is tilted so far back that it further compresses
the narrow openings in the spinal cord through which nerves pass.
"Poor posture and computer work is usually the culprit,"
said Cole, but he has treated two women for SSR.