A stress injury caused by extended periods bending forwards in a slumped position (neck flexion) while texting or working on phones, tablets or laptops. We have similar posture when reading and desk workers often developed a Dowager’s hump at the top of the spine. We now more regularly spend extended periods of time attached to our devices using poor posture. Children and teens are at particular risk.
Anatomy: After repeatedly using this posture for long periods of time, the natural curve of the neck (lordosis) is altered, placing increasing stress on the neck. The body adapts to the posture with far reaching effects; ligaments, muscles, spine, nerves, discs, fascial attachments and organs can all be compromised. Postural distortions can compromise the balance of the ligaments (anterior and posterior longitudinal) around the spine, putting the discs at risk. The arms can be considered as extending from the neck; the shoulder blades attach to the neck as do the heart and lungs; basically elastic tissue called fascia connects everything in the body. Our structure governs our function and we need to consider posture in its entirety for positive effect.
Symptoms: Aches, pains, tension and stiffness in neck, upper back and shoulders, with reduced motion and headaches are the initial symptoms. Later symptoms include weakness, numbness and tingling in the arms, hands and fingers, trapped nerves, spinal misalignment and degeneration, disc problems, arthritis; eventually digestive disturbances, cardiovascular problems and loss of lung capacity.
Causes: Sitting, standing or laying with the neck and head slumped forwards puts increasing pressure on the neck and spine; more slumping creates more pressure. With poor seated posture the entire spine can be slumped, compressing internal organs; the bottom is often slid forwards in the seat putting excessive pressure on the lumbar spine.
Diagnosis and Treatment: Your doctor will rule out other causes of symptoms and treat findings.
We only need to look around and see the number of people habitually adopting this posture to know there is a problem. Specific conditions and symptoms can be diagnosed, and can be far reaching when damage is well established in the system. We are better off correcting the posture and habits before the symptoms manifest and we are all walking around looking at the ground unable to lift our heads by the time we are 40, 50 or younger!
Prevention: Learn to adopt good posture; keep the head up straight so that the ears are in line with the shoulders (lift your phone to eye level!), keep the spine straight; when sitting, sit on the bottom bones (ischial tuberosity) with the lower back against the back of the chair, the chair base no longer than the thighs to prevent pressure on the back of the knees, feet flat on the floor.
Osteopathic/Manual Management: Assess posture, habits and symptoms; test function and flexibility of all structures; work manually to correct postural abnormalities in the spine, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves as well as balancing/releasing fascial connections including between organs and structure. Prescribe restorative exercises to help correct posture and strengthen weaknesses (including core strength), stretch and release the tightness. Re-educate regarding postural habits, ergonomics, general health and exercise.
We are happy to advise you on your health matters and offer a free 15 minute joint and spinal check, without obligation.
Aether Bios Clinic