Text Neck

Ttext1his is a picture of my beautiful daughter at the Apple Store. She’s looking at the iPhone 5. If you notice the position of her head, she is looking down. This is a typical position when we text with our phones. This habit may become detrimental to your health.

Approximately 90% of all my adult patients in my career (over 10,000 unique patients) have a bad neck. 50% of all children I have seen in my career straightened their neck curves

If you are one of those people who thinks that you can self adjust your neck or you don’t need a chiropractor, you most likely have a bad neck. Below are examples of a good neck & two bad necks.

The image on the far left is textbook normal (while face is to right side of film). It has the proper curvature. The middle picture is a reversal of normal, and the picture on the far right is an example of forward head translation. textneck_2-4

How does one get a “bad neck”?. As I mentioned in a previous article, it’s either “real fast or real slow”. With “Real fast”, you will remember exactly what happened. Examples, auto accidents, falls, sport injuries. If you can’t remember, then it’s “real slow”. Examples, texting, tablets, sleeping with two or more pillows under your neck, studying with poor posture. The most common way used to be school and looking down (think of the TV’s on the 1970’s era- all floor consoles). Today laptops, tablets and texting have become the new cause.

This is bad for your health even though it may not cause pain yet. Once the neck curvature is reversed long enough it will stay that way. Most likely sooner or later you will get symptoms ( just like your chances of cancer go up the longer you smoke). Symptoms that I see which a reversed neck curve are usually carpal tunnel type pain, shoulder problems, hand numbness, and of course basic neck pain and general tension headaches. Rarer symptoms include acid reflux, and possible thyroid issues. In a forward head translated neck I usually see severe migraines, shoulder and hand pain, rotator cuff damage. Rarer symptoms include frequent illnesses, and sinus problems.

Is there anyway to tell which type of neck I have without an x-ray? There is specialized software which I have that will, however an x-ray is the “gold standard” here.

The biomechanics of injury.

As I mentioned in the article Wolff’s Law, Degenerative Joint Disease is actually a process over time which can be managed or even prevented, just like cavities. Just because you are a 50 year old and your parents had arthritis, doesn’t mean you will end up the same way.

This improper posture that throws the center line of the head forward an inch of more is crucial . The human head is 7.55% of your body weight. Once your head goes forward, the imbalance of your head on the neck begins the process of early degenerative joint disease. Furthermore you may begin to develop “the Hump” as a way to compensate for this developing injury.

Below is an example of the same person degenerating over time. This is the neck x-ray of a 44 year old woman who fell down the stairs the day prior to the x-ray on the left. She is facing left with some history of whiplash in her C5 and C6 area (marked as 5 and 6 on left film). The picture on the right shows the same woman, 12 years later, attempting to look upward. In this x-ray her lower neck is actually looking downward while she attempts to look up. All the other boney structures still looks pretty much the same except where the neck curvature has been altered. That C5 and C6 area has rapidly degenerated, aka Degenerative Joint Disease.

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Another example:

This was a 48 year old female in an auto accident. The x-ray on the left is about 5 months after injury (in all the film she is facing left). She has a reversal in the lower part of her neck curve. She actually has some moderate DJD in the far left x-ray indicating that she already has a reversal to some degree but was worsened by the auto injury most likely. The middle x-ray shows that same woman 5 years later. The top 2 circles indicates where there is still no DJD present, the bottom circle show severe DJD where the curvature has been reversed. In the x-ray on the far right, I show the same woman, now 70 (22 years later). The discs that were intact STILL remain intact and where the reversal occurred is fusing together.

Therefore, degenerative joint disease is not just simply a cause of old age but a process over time in biomechanically altered areas.

On the other hand this is a 88 year old female who has seen Chiropractors on and off all her life. This resulted in keeping her neck curve intact. Very mild DJD. She is facing right in this x-ray.

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At Health First Chiropractic Clinic, P.C. we can help you prevent this process by restoring the proper intact curve. This curvature is vital to your health as it affects not just headaches, hand or shoulder problems but also sciatica type problems can come from this.

I always joke with patients telling them, “Yes, even grandma was young once, and she stood upright. You can age like a fine wine”

Your Grand Rapids Chiropractor,
Dr. S

Sources: Hadley (1964) Anatomico-Roentgenographic Studies of the Spine: pg 139-142