Have you ever looked around a room and noticed some people’s heads tend to rest a little farther forward on their body than others? If you haven’t, maybe you were in a room where everybody was afflicted with this abnormal head position! Our head posture has deteriorated with the advent of technology like cell phones and tablets. A typical user spends hours a day looking down at these devices. As we do, our head begins to assume a more forward head posture – or what we refer to in our office as Anterior Head Syndrome. Your head moving forward of a normal position is no different than your car being forced out of alignment. It puts stress on many areas of the body.
So What Kind of Damage Can This Cause?
To begin with, anterior head syndrome stretches your entire spinal cord. How is this possible? Your spinal cord is anchored firmly to the skull by dura mater at an area called the foramen magnum and also to the bottom of your spine at a bone called the sacrum. In between the skull and sacrum are 21 pairs of soft tissue attachments that connect your spinal cord (via the pia mater) to your dura mater. When your head is within a normal range the dura mater connections at the skull remain relatively “loose” and no neurological degenerative strain is passed to your spinal cord. However, as your head moves forward your spinal cord lengthens. This creates strain that is transmitted through the dura mater to your entire spinal cord via dentate ligaments! It is similar to stretching a rubber band. The tension doesn’t remain local, it is transmitted throughout its entirety. Physical therapists in Egypt actually used this principle to address lower back pain and sciatica in patients with abnormal head posture. They found that reducing anterior head syndrome in people with low back pain actually relieved their symptoms!
Why Does This Matter?
For one, your spinal cord and nerves are the electrical wiring of your body. The proper operation of your body is no different than the proper operation of your house or car – it is dependent on electrical signals. If there is an electrical obstruction in your house you might find that your lights flicker, wall sockets don’t work effectively, and your microwave constantly resets the time. What do you think might happen if the electrical wiring to your muscles, glands, heart and intestines were obstructed?
This tension also affects hemodynamics of the brain – the processes that are involved in moving blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in and out of the skull. How is this so? When the aforementioned dentate ligaments become taut secondary to anterior head syndrome, there is an increase in the intramedullary pressure of the spinal cord and its contents. The veins in this area do not have valves and are dependent on pressure gradients to direct blood flow in the correct direction. With abnormal head posture, the pressure gradients leaving the skull are increased and CSF may not flow out of the skull like it should. This is problematic because CSF bathes your brain with nutrients as well as removes toxic material!
As you now know, anterior head syndrome can have a number of effects on your body. With continued reliance on technology our head posture is only getting worse. Fortunately, there are ways to address this condition and we utilize a number of methods at Precision Chiropractic to guide your head back to a normal position. It is shocking what kind of effects head position can have. What does your head posture say about you?