So many things in life have unintended consequences. Although marvels of human innovation, automobiles that speed us from place to place and our computers and cell phones that connect us all together do have downsides. One of those downsides is neck pain. In the case of automobiles the cause of the downside is clear. A collision, even a small one, can result in damage to the delicate structures of the neck, resulting in neck pain. If untreated, that pain can become chronic, continue for years and result in a premature aging of the neck. On the other hand, the damage to the neck structures that can come from being hunched over a computer or cell phone for hours each day, day after day, week after week is more subtle. But just as real. This forward head posture can also damage the ligaments and joints of the neck, resulting in premature degeneration and pain.
I notice so many people walking around today, even people in their teens and 20s, who demonstrate a significant forward head posture. When the head is balanced over the shoulders the weight is evenly distributed and the joints glide easily. For every inch from the shoulders that the head moves forward, an extra 15 pounds of weight goes into the muscles and joints of the neck. Over time this micro trauma (as supposed the macro trauma of an auto accident) will create pain and dysfunction.
In a very real sense, I see my role as a chiropractor as one of compensating for these downsides of modern life. Much like our cars need to be kept in alignment and in good mechanical working order so as to keep functioning for as long as possible, our spines require the same level of care because of our modern “severe driving conditions”.
As a chiropractor, my job is to evaluate the motion of the neck. Many times joints will be moving too much because of the damage to the ligaments. When this happens, there will often be accompanying joints that are moving too little because scar tissue has formed in those joints, inhibiting the normal glide and movement. If we can restore proper motion and alignment to those fixated joints, then that will take stress off the joints that are moving too much so that they can heal. In addition, evaluating and treating the spine in its entirety, in this case the upper back in particular, will go a long way toward normalizing the mechanics of the neck. I’ve seen patients with years of chronic neck pain find relief through precise gentle chiropractic care.