chronic neck pain and forward head posture

CHRONIC PAIN AND OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH FHP
FORWARD HEAD POSTURE

EXAMPLES OF LOSS OF CERVICAL LORDOSIS OR REVERSE CURVE (KYPHOSIS)

Cervical Lordosis

Image by Hellerhoff

Forward Head Posture

Image by Lucien Monfils

Loss of Cervical Curve

Image by Hellerfoff

Head in forward posture can add up to thirty pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine. This can pull the entire spine out of alignment. Forward head posture (FHP) may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity. These breath-related effects are primarily due to the loss of the cervical lordosis…   Dr. Rene Cailliet (M.D.), former director of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at USC.
Because I have written a fairly large post about THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A LORDOTIC CERVICAL CURVE, AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF A REVERSE CERVICAL CURVE (having the wrong kind of curvature of the neck), I am going to keep this short.  You can either click the link above or head over to DR. PAINTER’S SITE for more information as well as a number of scientific studies on the topic.   Now; let’s talk for just a moment about what constitutes a “normal” curve.

EXAMPLES OF A LORDOTIC CERVICAL CURVE

Cervical Lordosis

© Nevit Dilmen

Lordotic Cervical Curve

Image by Hellerhoff

The group of people whom I would have to say is the most knowledgeable about neck curves, what constitutes a good curve, what constitutes a bad curve, and how to change (improve) a poor curve, are the CBP Practitioners.  CBP (Chiropractic Biophysics) was invented by Chiropractor and Mathematician, Dr. Don Harrison.  According to former CBP instructor and expert in restoration of the normal cervical curve, Dr. Mark Payne, “normal” is somewhere between 25 to 35 degrees (as measured by Jackson’s Angle).  This curve acts in similar fashion to an axle spring.  The spring dissipates force, taking pressure off the spinal discs. 

On the other hand, if you do not have the proper amount of curve (or you have a reverse cervical curve), force is not only not dissipated, it is redistributed in a manner that both causes and accelerates the degenerative processes which are at work on all of us due to the effects of gravity.  Instead of acting like a spring, your neck can end up pounding your discs like a hammer pounds a nail.  As you might imagine, the resulting mechanical dysfunction causes a host of problems which can actually be seen on X-ray.  The first of these is something called “Sclerosis” (a build-up of calcium).  When this gets more severe, there will be bone spurs that form.   Right along with these is DISC DEGENERATION.   The bottom line is that anything that keeps your spine from moving like it should move (including having the proper curvature and GOOD POSTURE) will cause or accelerate Spinal Decay. 

RESULTS OF HAVING AN IMPROPER CERVICAL CURVE

If you look at the peer-reviewed literature on the subject, there is a great deal of information concerning the proper cervical curve as well as problems associated with the loss of the normal lordosis.  I will warn you up front that this is not information that you will hear from your doctor.  Although your doctor will never mention it (sometimes the radiology report will say something along the lines of “loss of normal cervical lordosis“), loss of this curve is a bigger deal than most people —- including chiropractors —– realize.  These problems include what I refer to as “The Big Three”

WHAT IT TAKES TO ADDRESS IMPROPER CERVICAL CURVES

After 25 years in Chiropractic, I can assure you that no matter how beneficial CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS can be (and they can be very beneficial), they are not, all by themselves, going to significantly improve the lordotic curve of the cervical spine.  In fact, in many cases, NUMEROUS ADJUSTMENTS do not even begin take care of the pain, let alone change the cervical curve.  So; besides the adjustments, you are going to have to do some tractioning (HERE).  Think about it; traction is what the braces that my two oldest children are wearing, do to their teeth in order to straighten them (yeah; I have two kids in braces right now). 

The great thing is; once your chiropractor has put you through the proper tests and figured out that you can tolerate Cervical Extension Traction, you can do most of it at home with inexpensive devices such as my favorite, the DAKOTA TRACTION UNIT (thanks Dr. Tressler!).  Not only does it have the ability to help the problems listed above by improving the biomechanical function of the cervical spine, it is my belief that Cervical Extension Traction (along with EXTENSION EXERCISES) are probably the single best methods of dealing with the CHRONIC TRIGGER POINTS that do not respond to SCAR TISSUE REMODELING.

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