FORWARD HEAD POSTURE PROVOKES NECK AND SHOULDER PAIN
Due to recent IT development, computers, smart phones, and iPads are more than just means of communication and are a big part of our lives; however, this applies to side effects. Typical side effects include stick neck and shoulder. Persistent repetition of the same movement in a restricted posture can induce stiffness of the neck and shoulder; in worse cases, there can be stiffness of mid back. This disorder is referred to as VDT (Visual Display Terminal) disorder, induced by long term bending of the head forward and persistent use of smart phones, iPads, and computer screens. Typical disorder of VDT is Forward Head Posture. In severe cases, there can be not only neck pain, but also severe headache, arm and hand numbness. Therefore, we need to be cautious.
Normal spine around the neck should have a gentle “C” curve; however, persistent bending of the neck forward, or working in wrong posture, where the head leans forward, put stress on the top part of the spine. Forward Head Posture is where muscles and ligaments posterior to the neck get stretched out like a neck of a turtle. When the head is bent forward 1 cm, the neck carries a load of 2-3 Kg. The trapezius muscle, which spreads from neck to the back, along with other muscles play a role in moving both shoulders; but stress on this muscle affects the sympathetic nerve, which can lead to contraction of artery that runs behind the head. This causes poor blood circulation, followed by loss of concentration, difficulty breathing, and headache.
Simple Forward Head Posture self-diagnostic test is by standing straight, and drawing a line from the middle of the ear down to the should line, and seeing whether the lines are aligned. If the line is misaligned more than 2.5 cm forward, then this indicates severe Turtle Neck syndrome, where as less than 2.5 cm indicates progression of the syndrome.
Right posture is important for prevention of Forward Head Posture, and this includes pointing the chest to the ceiling. The shoulders will naturally extend, and the cervical vertebra arrangement will align straight. Level the computer screen with the eye because low screen placement makes the back and neck to bend downward. The neck also bends when using small monitor screen, therefore big screen with enlarged fonts are recommended. Place the keyboard and mouse close to the body.
After long period of work, rest your hands behind the neck where it bends, lift the chin up towards the ceiling and hold for about ten seconds, followed by pulling the chin for ten seconds. Release and repeat these motions for five rounds. This strengthens the deep muscle that supports the neck spine, and it is effective in relaxing tight muscles. Acupressure used in Korean Medicine accompanied with stretching are great in relaxing neck tightness. Gentle pressure with the fingers in the area 1 cm up from the nape of the neck where the head rests, and 2 cm from the midline has excellent effect in releasing neck tightness.
Forward Head Posture manifests as tight muscles due to daily life habits. If you neglect initial neck and shoulder pain as simple fatigue and miss the appropriate timing for treatment, then it can lead up to complications like that of herniated cervical disc disorder. Therefore, if you see any signs of neck and shoulder pain or if you use the computer frequently, consultation with specialists through examinations and appropriate treatments are ways to prevent disc disorder. Haeseong Center for Alternative Medicine offers concurrent MST acupuncture treatment and herbal medicine in relaxing muscle tension effectively.
Published by KoreaTimes under <Health Column> on July 22nd, 2014.