Dr. Alex Ognibene
As a chiropractor, most of my patients come to see me for treatment of some sort of musculo-skeletal aches and pains. Occasionally, these individuals know a precise cause or moment of onset for their injury, such as a car accident, lifting incident, or slip and fall. Much more often, however, the patient complaint sounds more like this…
“I’ve had neck and/or back pain for years; there was never really an injury, it’s just kind of always been there; it comes and goes but I feel it pretty much every day.”
One of the most common areas for this type of complaint is between the lower neck, upper back, and shoulders. This region of the body is heavily influenced by stressors induced by forward head posture. The muscles that connect the spine to the shoulder blades are likely to get tightened and irritated from sustained forward head posture and can create painful trigger points and spinal dysfunction.
The problem with forward head posture? It is completely natural and totally unavoidable based on the shape of our bodies. Our eyes and arms go forward, so it is so common for us to do most things in front of us. We exhibit forward head posture during driving, texting, reading, eating, cleaning, and computer work, along with many other normal activities of daily life.
Thinking of this as cause and effect, the posture is the cause, and the effect is the pain. If we cannot completely avoid the cause, as I just mentioned, the effect will likely stick round to some degree. However, that does not make this condition untreatable. The best chance we have is to address the affected muscles and joints as needed, as well as introduce exercises to counterbalance the effects of poor posture on a preventative measure.
Treatment for posture pain patterns should include mobilization of sticky joints, and massage or trigger point work for tight and spastic muscles. It also should include a conscious effort to strengthen chronically weak muscles and lengthen chronically tight muscles. This takes time, effort, and patience, along with an understanding that we are fighting an uphill battle against the structure of our own bodies. And as always, be sure to talk to your doctor before pursuing treatment for any type of pain to make sure there are no underlying complications.