Neck and Shoulder Pain: Implications of “text neck” and “Forward head posture”

January 14, 2015

Posture is an important aspect when it comes to our health. Unfortunately, in today’s busy work centered culture it is often overlooked or sacrificed to our own detriment. As chiropractors we frequently notice that a variety of spine-related disorders become recurrent and chronic due to adverse stresses originating from poor posture and ergonomic setup.

 

Often time’s symptoms may start off as shoulder tension, muscular strain, headaches, and lower back pain. Symptoms generally progress by becoming more frequent and unfortunately more and more common.

 

Perhaps the best way to think of posture is simply to think about what position do you hold for the majority of the day? For many of us this position is directly in front of a monitor. Unfortunately our sedentary lifestyle cannot be simply overcome by a few quick visits to the gym. Health and fitness are intertwined. It is not just computer users who are at risk of increased forward head carriage issues. How long do we look down at our mobile phones, laptops, tablets and other devices that position us into postural straining positions?

 

Your body is innately intelligent and will always attempt to minimize energy expenditure by contorting into whatever position is held for the greatest period of time. Therefore, if we sit in a poor position than this becomes our ‘NORMAL’ position and overtime leads to damaging and overloading of the spine and muscular system. Our body’s ability to compensate is remarkable; however, there is a limit to one’s ability. It should be noted that when the body compensates this means that another region of the body whether it is joints, ligaments, or muscular tissues are required to pick up the slack. This means that the body ‘changes’ the very specific role of what it was designed to do. With new demands placed on structures that were not designed to perform these tasks it is easy to see how poor patterns lead to chronic tension, pain, and joint degeneration / arthritis. The body’s ability to compensate in the short term to see us through stressful periods can become our undoing if we do not once again restore ourselves to proper postural positions.

 

  The average human head weighs 12 pounds (5.5 kg) for every centimetre that your head is moved forward the relative weight of your head more than doubles and causes overloading of the neck and back. This increased tension also leads to increased incidence of lower back pain as the pelvis must counteract the centre of gravity changes. Proper posture prevents degeneration and provides a foundation for better health.

 

Chiropractic care has the ability to help improve joint mobility and decreases detrimental compensation patterns. Through chiropractic adjustments and rehabilitative exercises the process of forward head carriage can be mitigated and assist in the attainment of better health.

 

Written By:

Dr. Michael J Korczynski

 

Sources:

1) www.kingstonchiro.ca

2)  Shin and Kim (2014). Effects of Cervical Flexion on the Flexion-relaxation Ratio during Smartphone Use. J Phys Ther Sci. Dec 2014; 26(12): 1899–1901. Available online: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4273053/

3) Nimbarte et al (2014). Impact of shoulder position and fatigue on the flexion–relaxation response in cervical spine. Journal of Clinical Biomechanics: March 2014 Volume 29, Issue 3, Pages 277–282.  Available online January 9 ,2014.

4)ww.cbc.ca (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/poor-posture-from-technology-use-can-lead-to-4-damaging-effects-1.2879550)

5) www.cbc.ca  (http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2011/10/is-too-much-cellphone-use-giving-you-text-neck.html)

6)  cbc.ca (video on youtube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCmRArxzfxc

 

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