Text Neck, Computer Neck, or Forward Head Posture? Here’s Your Solution

 

Do you find yourself on your tablet, computer, cell phone or other hand held device more and more?  Have you noticed, or even worse, have others noticed that your posture has gotten worse over the years? At Team Health Care Clinic, we have seen an incredible increase in injuries and pain from what is commonly called “Text Neck,” “Computer Neck,” or Forward Head Posture. If not corrected, it leads to stubborn neck pain, upper and lower back pain, headaches, shoulder pain and even poor breathing. It later can lead to bulging and eventually degenerative disc disease.  How can a forward head posture create all of these conditions?neck pain

The problem with Forward Head Posture

We first need to consider that the head is a 10-pound weight sitting on the top of the spine if one has ideal, perfect posture.  However, for every inch one’s head moves forward, we add 10 pounds of adjusted weight to the neck and back.  So a patient with one-inch forward head posture is applying 20 pounds of weight to the neck and back musculature, vertebra and discs. Two inches forward is 30 pounds of weight and so forth.

Hour after hour, day after day, this extra strain creates an accumulative injury. Vertebral misalignment, knotted muscles and damaged discs eventually develop. The body tries to compensate by altering posture and kinetics, resulting in injuries in the low back, shoulders and arms as well.

This has become an epidemic due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and poor posture.  Fortunately, at Team Health Care Clinic, our combination of providers developed a unique Forward Head Posture (FHP) rehab program that has proven success.

How does it work?

The FHP program incorporates principles from The Pettibon System, the experience of our chiropractors, and the expertise of our physical therapists. In addition to regular chiropractic adjustments, the patient is engaged in rehab “stations” each time they come in. These stations may include, forward head posture supine traction, standing traction, an innovative rehab chair with a weighted head band, and more. The 20-30 minute treatments are pleasant and not particularly strenuous, just precise for this condition.

Are you a candidate?

The success is high due to our patient selection process.  A patient starts with neck x-rays to determine if they have a forward head posture. This requires the doctor to make a series of measurements that is reviewed with the patient.  If the measurements confirm the condition, a second x-ray is taken while wearing a rehab, weighted head band.

This x-ray determines if the patient’s neck responds well to the procedure.  If the x-ray demonstrates some immediate improvement, it gives the doctor more certainty that the patient will respond permanently with the full FHP program.  Approximately 5-10% of patients will be screened out.  Midpoint and final x-rays are performed to determine the patients progress.

If you suspect you have worsening posture, start with neck x-rays and determine if you are even a candidate for the program.  If you are already a patient, we may be able to use your previous x-rays as a starting point.  Don’t wait until there are signs of damage from years of strain to your neck and back.

Joe Bertsch, DC

Joe Bertsch, DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tech Neck and Physical Therapy

Most of our kids have settled into their school routines, which require a greater use of computers and technology than ever before. Team Health Care Clinic’s physical therapists see many patients in our clinic with poor posture from technology use. With today’s technology we have seen a decline in good posture, and an increase in pain– often referred to as “tech neck.” Technology is here to stay, so self-awareness, education, and practicing good posture habits are necessary for our overall health.

Posture

Good Posture

When you are in neutral posture the shoulders are back and the ears are in line with the shoulders and the arms hang at the sides with the palms toward the legs.

Poor Posture

There is an increased forward curve of the neck that causes the head to move forward. The head is perched forward, the shoulders are rounded and possibly a head tilt or rotation.

Effects of Poor Posture

The muscles on the front of the neck and the mid back are stretched from the forward movement of the head, and become weak. The muscles on the back of the neck and the front of the shoulders become tight. These muscle imbalances cause neck pain due to muscle fatigue, strain, displacement stress on the joints, and loss of motion.

Posture with Technology Use

A flexed posture when working on your computer or mobile device loads the spine causing more stress. When the neck is neutral the head places about10-12 pounds of load to the cervical spine. When you flex the neck to 30 degrees you place 40 pounds of load on your spine and when you flex forward to 60 degrees the load is 60 pounds. The average kid, according to the Department of Health spends 3 hours a day using screen media. That is a significant amount of repetitive strain on the neck and upper back, and will impact over all spine health.

Neck Pain Prevention

There are a few simple things you can do right now to decrease the stress on your neck with the use of technology:

  • Set time limits for using your devices
  • Take frequent brakes
  • Raise your device – hold your phone in front of you and raise your computer monitor so your neck is neutral.
  • Stretch
  • Use pain as a warning and take a break or re-adjust your position
  • Alternate position of workstation from seated to standing

If you experience pain in the neck, upper back, or numbness and tingling in the arms it is time to seek help. Physical therapy and chiropractic assessments will determine what posture, joint, and muscle dysfunctions are causing pain and symptoms. Addressing neutral posture in physical therapy treatments is valuable in providing efficient and lasting relief of neck pain and vital to a healthy spine and healthy living.

Andrea Newport, PT

Andrea Newport, PT