Can Poor Posture Lead to Neck Arthritis & Pain?
Research has shown that not only forward head posture can aggravate neck arthritis and disc disease, and can potentially cause it.
Look around you, what do you see with peoples’ posture? Lots of heads down, text neck, I call it “tech neck” – heads glued to phones, tablets, laptops… not a good look and it can definitely lead to structural and mechanical damage if prolonged.
We have people come in to see us daily with neck pain or concerns about their posture. Many complain that they have a hump, “iHump” on the top part of their back and don’t like the look of it.
So, let’s look at what happens when the head is sitting on your neck. Imagine holding a bowling ball close you, it weighs about 5kg – roughly the same weight as your head.
When you hold the ball in front of your body at arms length, it will get uncomfortable after a while – you will feel fatigue or strain in your neck and shoulders. In comparison, if you bring the ball closer to your body, it is much easier to carry. Therefore, when the head is sitting on top of the neck, maintaining it’s natural 40 degree curve, there are normal tensile forces and ease of function. Forward head posture creates new compressive loads and stress on the neck’s structure – just like holding that 5kg ball with arms outstretched. Research shows that with the head carried forward there can be 1-4.25 times the normal force and load placed on the lower neck.(1)
If we need to remove a bolt that is stuck, we use a spanner – would we use a short lever to loosen the bolt, or a longer one? Long of course! With our head sitting forward , a torque vector is created on the lower neck. In other words, more stress and load is placed there with the neck stretched in front of the body.
The other configuration that adds load to the lower neck is a straight neck curve. We should have a forward curve in our neck of 40degrees. The removal of this curve and the resulting stress causes the vertebrae and discs to degenerate over time, research shows. So, it is an increase in load over time that contributes to degeneration, not an increase in age.
Studies also shows that there is a linear correlation between forward head posture and neck pain. So the more the head sits forward in front of the shoulder, the more pain can be experienced. This poor posture is often associated with headaches, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, reduced lung capacity (2) and decreased neck movement. (3)
So, what do you do?
1. Become more aware of your posture throughout the day – rather than stooping over your hand held devices, bring them to eye level and prioritise using a desktop computer over a laptop.
2. Take regular breaks
3. Make time to exercise and strengthen the upper spine and core
If making these changes is not sufficient to decrease your symptoms, a Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP) analysis of your neck curve in comparison to the ideal, paired with appropriate adjustments to restore proper alignment and neck posture will be of great benefit to you!
Call us on 9329 1118 and we can help you make a time for an initial assessment of your neck adjustment.
1.Harrison DD, Jones WE, Janik TJ, Harrison DE. Evaluation of Flexural Stresses in the Vertebral body Cortex and Trabecular Bone in Three Cervical Configurations with an Elliptical Shell Model. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002; 25(6): 391-401.
2. Yoshida G, Kanemura T, Ishikawa Y, Sakai Y, et al. Cardiopulmonary function in elderly patients with cervical spondylotic myelopathy. J Orthop Sci 2012; 17(1): 3-8.
3. van der Donk J, Schouten JS, Passchier J, van Romunde LK, Valkenburg HA. The associations of neck pain with radiological abnormalities of the cervical spine and personality traits in a general population. J Rheumatol 1991;18(12):1884-1889.