Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Why looking downward can give you neck pain!

Video Link: bit.ly/2o3UPA5


My name is Doctor Brian Prieto from Yorba Linda, California and welcome to our video series called “Questions That Patients Ask Us”.
Today's topic is about is about neck and upper back pain caused from the forward head posture position. We see a lot of patients with complaints in the lower neck and the upper back area. Why is this a problem? Because when our head is too far forward when sitting at a desk or when looking downward at our electronics the neck and upper back muscles can become tense and will have to counterbalance the head. When your head is in the neutral position and centered over your shoulders your neck and upper back muscles don't have to work as hard. When the head is in the flexed position or in the downward position for long periods of time, then the neck and upper back muscles are going to have to work a lot harder to counterbalance the head, and over a period of time that's going to create symptoms of neck and upper back pain with headaches.
There was a recent study by New York spine surgeon Kenneth Hansraj performed assessing the incremental effects of a forward-tilted head posture on your cervical spine. His conclusions, published in Surgical Technology International in November 2014 were summarized as follows:
"The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. Loss of the natural curve of the cervical spine leads to incrementally increased stresses about the cervical spine. These stresses may lead to early wear, tear, degeneration, and possibly surgeries. While it is nearly impossible to avoid the technologies that cause these issues, individuals should make an effort to look at their phones with a neutral spine and avoid spending hours each day hunched over."
He talked about the weight of our heads being approximately 10 to 12 pounds, and when leaning forward the weight becomes heavier on our neck and upper back. Well, that's approximately the same weight as a bowling ball. So, if you are holding a bowling ball centered and balanced over your arm and your arm representing the neck see how long you can hold that position? Probably you can hold it for a while as long as the bowling ball is balanced over your arm. However, if you lean the bowling ball to one side or the other you won’t be able to hold it for very long because your arm will get fatigued right away and it's going to start cramping. Yes, this is just an example, of a bowling ball, but over a period of time if your head is in the forward head posture for sustained periods of time then your neck and upper back will end up giving you symptoms.
So, the key thing is, is try to keep your head in the neutral position for as long as you can when you're on your electronics or on your computer and to get up and take a break for there is not a buildup of tension in the neck and upper back muscles.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.