Would it not be wonderful to turn off pain as easy as pressing an “Off “button? Reach back and touch at the base of your neck – do you have a bump? If so, you may have found the button to your headache and neck pain. This bump is an unattractive mass of fat and muscle that your body build over time, and continue to grow, to help keep your head from pulling further and further forward. Unfortunately this bump will only get worse with time, unless you change the arc in your neck, called your cervical curve.
Architecture of the Body
If you think about the mechanics of your neck, you’ll realize it’s not surprising how easily it can be injured. It has amazing flexibility, is constantly on the move, has very little muscular support, but has to support the 14 – 16 pounds of your head. It is like balancing a bowling ball on a stick using only elastic bands in what should be a perfect 60 degree curve. Due to our tech savvy lifestyles a forward head posture is the now one of the most notable posture changes. This change is a huge factor in your overall health because it relates to your central nervous system, which is your body’s power supply. When you have forward head posture your spinal cord is pulled and stretched. This tension changes the shape of your spinal cord and narrows the area in which your spinal fluid travels around the quintessential spinal cord.
When healthy and relaxed, your spinal cord sends signals between your brain and body at approximately 275 mph. When you have lost your curve, the speed of these signals traveling between your brain and body all day long is compromised. Over time as the signal becomes weaker the body will begin to manifest symptoms and conditions to alert you that your body is in a state of dis-ease. Your body will continue to change and adapt with protective measures. If your forward posture is left over time it will result in the condition most often referred to as a Dowager’s Hump.
Causes of Forward Head Posture:
Most often a forward head posture is a combination of factors that resulted from an occurrence and is left unrecognized and treated over time. For instance an injury may be combined with poor posture most often produced from today’s tech savvy lifestyles, spinal misalignments, and stress.
Injuries: Easily the most common injury to the neck is whiplash, the sudden, violent whipping motion of the head in an accident. It is most often associated with a car accidents, but it can happen when playing sport, or any other time the head suffers this particular whipping trauma. When this happens, the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back are damaged, but the full effects of this may not be felt for weeks or even months. This is why anyone who suspects they may have suffered whiplash should be extremely careful not to aggravate it, even if they feel no immediate ill-effects. An assessment should be sought from a chiropractor, in case treatment is needed to minimize the effects and guard against possible irreversible damage.
Poor Posture: Poor posture is one of the most common causes of neck pain which can cause headaches. Unlike sudden injuries, which we usually know have happened, bad posture occurs over time and is something we soon begin to feel as normal. Everyday activities such as texting or working on a computer for extended periods is certainly susceptible to developing a forward head posture and spinal misalignments.
Misalignments: These are extremely common in the neck and upper back area, thanks to the weight of your head resting on such an unstable part of your spine. The majority of spinal misalignments are centered around four areas:
- The top of the cervical spine where it meets the skull
- The middle of the cervical spine which supports the greatest weight of the head
- The transition between the cervical and thoracic areas of the spine
- The middle of the thoracic spine which supports the greatest weight of the upper body
Stress: Mental and emotional stress causes the muscles to tense, especially those in the back and neck. This “muscle guarding” is a primitive survival response to avoid injury in the face of danger, but it ends up causing injury when it happens for any length of time.
Get a Spinal Check-up!
With the increasing use of texting and smart phones this epidemic is only getting worse. Kids now routinely present with all sorts of health problems (like headaches, stomach problems, and chronic colds) related to poor posture. Heavy backpacks are not helpful here either. This used to be an adult problem but now our children are developing symptoms and conditions earlier which are affecting the health of our future generations.
So press the “Off” button today on your neck and headache pain and call to schedule an appointment to “Power On” better health!
For Your Health,
Dr. Salvatore Minicozzi