Most neck pain that is not caused by trauma (like whiplash) is related to your posture. The health of your neck depends largely on the curve of the spine below and the position of the head above. If your head and spine are imprecisely aligned, your neck may be predisposed to injury or increased wear and tear over time.
Forward Head and Shoulder Posture
The most common condition that contributes to neck pain from posture is forward head and shoulder positioning. Forward head posture is when the neck slants forward, placing the head in front of the shoulders. This head position leads to several problems:
• The forward pull of your head puts undue stress on the vertebrae of the lower neck, contributing to degenerative disc disease and other degenerative neck problems.
• This posture causes the muscles of the upper back to continually overwork as they counterbalance the weight of the head pulling forward.
• This position is often accompanied by forward shoulders and a rounded upper back, which not only contributes to the neck problem, but can also cause shoulder pain.
The more time spent you spend with a forward head posture, the more likely it is that you will develop neck and shoulder problems.
Effects of Poor Posture on the Lower Cervical Vertebrae
The part of the neck that is particularly vulnerable to forward head posture is the lower part of the neck, just above the shoulders.
The lower cervical vertebrae may slightly slide forward as a result of the persistent pull of gravity on a forward head.
This force can be a problem for patients with jobs that require them to look down or forward all day, such as pharmacists counting pills or data-entry workers looking at a computer screen.
Long-Term Negative Effects of Poor Posture
Prolonged forward head posture eventually irritates the small facet joints in the neck, as well as the ligaments and soft tissues.
This irritation may result in neck pain that radiates down to the shoulder blades and upper back, potentially causing a variety of conditions, including:
• Trigger points in the muscles, which are areas of severe tenderness that are painful to touch, along with limited range of motion.
• Disc degeneration problems, which may potentially lead to cervical degenerative disc disease, cervical osteoarthritis, or a cervical herniated disc.
While poor posture is a common factor contributing to neck pain, it may be avoided or lessened by consistently applying practical solutions. Try to utilize ergonomic chairs at the office, practice good posture as you wait in line for groceries, and use phones or tablets sparingly (or position the screen more in line with your eye level). Your neck will thank you.
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