Health News Digest
Tech neck

March 31, 2014

Fighting Back Against Tech Neck And Other Modern Maladies

By  Michael D. Shaw

Occupational hazards, and their associated medical conditions, are as old as the human race. Afflictions attributed to mining were described by Hippocrates in the 4th century BC, and even if there is little formal documentation extant, surely cave dwellers suffered from a variety of occupational illnesses, as well.

Disorders can stem from chemical agents (including dust particles); physical agents such as temperature, pressure, noise, radiation, whole body vibration, and a host of mechanical stressors—most commonly involved with repetitive motion or maintaining a fixed position for prolonged periods. Sometimes, the disease stays the same even if its popular name changes. Certain types of knee bursitis have been called Housemaid’s Knee, and with the advent of more modern floor cleaning techniques, has become Carpet-Layer’s Knee.

Tech neck—called text neck in some quarters—is nothing other than a modern name for the dreaded Forward Head Posture (FHP)—the anterior positioning of the cervical spine. That is, the neck slants forward, placing the head in front of the shoulders. Many of us were warned about poor posture in elementary school, although few of us appreciated how important good posture can be to overall health. An individual with “perfect posture” would have his ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle in vertical alignment. As such, if you were to drop a plumb line from your ear, it should pass through all those points.

If only. Some estimates suggest that 90% of the population exhibits FHP and its complications. But what causes FHP?

First and foremost, it’s related to tech. How many of us spend too much time hunched over computers, and peering down at cell phones? Then there’s the bad habit of holding the phone between your ear and shoulder. Travelers will carry heavy bags on one shoulder, although with the advent of wheeled luggage, this practice is thankfully disappearing. Kids and adults will overfill backpacks—30 lbs (13.6 kg) is not uncommon. Bear in mind that occupational therapists recommend no more than one-tenth of body weight in backpacks for small children, and no more than 25 lbs (11.3 kg) for anyone.

In his book (co-written with Leonard Gross) The Rejuvenation Strategy: A Medically Approved Fitness Program to Reverse the Effects of Aging esteemed physician and pioneer of physical medicine Rene Cailliet, MD makes his case:

  • Head in forward posture can add up to thirty pounds (13.6 kg) of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine. This can pull the entire spine out of alignment.
  • Forward head posture (FHP) may result in the loss of 30% of vital lung capacity.
  • The entire gastrointestinal system (particularly the large intestine) may become agitated from FHP resulting in sluggish bowel peristaltic function and evacuation.

Cailliet adds: “Most attempts to correct posture are directed toward the spine, shoulders, and pelvis. All are important, but, head position takes precedence over all others. The body follows the head. Therefore, the entire body is best aligned by first restoring proper functional alignment to the head.”

At a minimum, correcting FHP requires a conscious effort to maintain good posture. Physical therapy might well be needed, and in more advanced cases, exercises to strengthen all the muscles involved in raising the head may be indicated.

Lest we forget, tech can also be a great boon to health. Which brings us to Acoustic Compression Therapy (ACT) with WellWave Technology—an offshoot of the proven science responsible for lithotripsy—in which carefully focused, high-energy sound waves break up stones in the kidney, bladder, or ureter. ACT is used in the treatment of acute and chronic pain in muscles, tendons and joints.

I was introduced to this therapy by chiropractic physician Dr. Joseph Terranova of Injury Health Center, with five locations in the Sunshine State. He told me more…

“ACT, based on WellWave technology, is an affordable and noninvasive way to alleviate pain and expand range of motion, which is of critical importance for professional athletes as well as recreational golfers and tennis players. By enhancing circulation, lessening muscle tightness, breaking up scar tissue, and promoting healing, ACT often enables patients to postpone or completely avoid surgery. We are the exclusive, trained providers of this specialized equipment in Central Florida, where enjoying an outdoor lifestyle—on the greens and the tennis courts—is a priority. ACT is one means, a safe and innovative resource, to ensure individuals can pursue the activities they enjoy.”

In other words: Tech to the rescue.