Anterior head syndrome is becoming an epidemic for our generation. What is anterior head syndrome and what habits make it worse? Our head is designed to sit directly over our shoulders and our neck is supposed to have a nice c-shaped curve in it. Specifically, a 45 degree curve is anatomically perfect… When our neck is in this normal position, the weight of our head on our body is approximately 12 pounds. Anterior head syndrome is when the head begins to shift forward, stretching our spinal cord and straightening the curvature in our neck. For every inch that our head falls forward, it increases the weight of the head on the spine by 10 pounds. So at 2 inches of forward head posture, your head weighs 32 pounds. At three inches the head weighs 42 pounds. An easier way to understand this is if you imagine holding a bowling ball close to your body, you can do this most likely for quite some time, but if you try and hold that bowling ball with your arm straight out, eventually you won’t be able to support the weight. This is exactly what’s happening to the neck.
You may be wondering what contributes to anterior head syndrome and one of the biggest factors today is technology. Technology is something that has exploded in the past 20 years. Our great great grandparents had no idea that computers and cell phones and Ipads were going to be so popular today. Most Americans spend an average of 11+ hours a day on technology. Nowadays this includes not only adults but teenagers, children, and even infants. Technology includes computer work, texting, checking social media, playing on tablets or iPads, as well as watching TV. What do a majority of these activities have in common? We are constantly looking down. It would make sense that our heads are beginning to fall forward at a very young age. So what are some symptoms that can occur with what the media is beginning to call “text neck”?
We are starting to see many children and teenagers suffering from what many people think to be adult-like symptoms such as chronic headaches and migraines, neck pain, ligament damage and early onset arthritis. Oftentimes as adults we begin to see more serious symptoms such as herniated discs as well as numbness and tingling in the hands. As Americans we tend to push these warning signs to the side chalking them up to “old age” but the truth is- our technology lifestyle is putting our health at risk. While some of us look to a Tylenol or Advil to cover up the symptoms, the true answer lies in the structure of our nervous system. Corrective chiropractic care incorporates specific physical therapy exercises along with gentle chiropractic adjustments to address the curvature of the neck. Massage therapists are also great professionals to address overly tight and stressed out muscles of the head, neck, and shoulders. These therapies work to restore the body to its normal biomechanics so that these symptoms of pain, discomfort, and chronic headaches can be resolved.
When the spine shifts forward (anterior head syndrome) some symptoms may include, arm pain, dizziness, decreased motion, numbness in the arms and hands, canal stenosis, fatigue, headaches, migraines, muscle spasms, disc herniations, upper back pain, shoulder muscle spasms, and even pinched nerves. If any of these symptoms apply to you or someone you know, encourage them to see a corrective chiropractor, in coordination with a massage therapist! Alicia Petty down at the Lando Center is an amazing massage therapist-- she can address overly tight and stressed muscles.
Dr. Doug and Jeanette love teaching people about health and wellness. If we haven't covered a topic that you're interested in, feel free to leave a comment and we'd be happy to give you our thoughts!