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How to Treat Forward Head Syndrome

Do you use your smartphone, computer, and other electronic devices daily? As a result, do you exhibit incorrect posture with your head misaligned from the rest of your body? If so, you may be suffering from forward head syndrome.

But what is this condition, and should it cause alarm?

This blog discusses the neuromuscular condition, including its causes, symptoms, and effects. We’ll also go over how to fix forward head syndrome.

What is Forward Head Syndrome?

Also known as forward head posture or FHP, this condition is defined as when a person’s head leans forward, causing their ears to be out of the body’s vertical midline. People with forward head syndrome often end up tilting their heads back to look forward.

This irregular posture strains your neck’s muscles, which can cause various problems. It also puts increasing amounts of weight pressure on the spine, depending on the angle’s severity. According to a study, the head weighs about 10 to 14 lbs in a neutral position but becomes heavier as it leans forward due to the lack of muscle and bone support from the neck. 

Effects on Health of Forward Head Posture

FHP has several potential side effects, which may reduce your overall quality of life.

Pain and Stiffness

The degree by which your head angles itself provides extra pressure on the neck muscles, eventually causing strain and stress. Victims of FHP can also experience muscle tension in the shoulders, discomfort in the mid back, and either a pin and needle sensation or numbness in the arms and hands.

Aside from these, there are various areas of your body where you can experience pain, such as the following:

  • Muscle above the hyoid bone: This U-shaped bone supports your tongue, and its muscles can experience anterior neck pain or tightness at its front. 
  • Upper cervical spine: The bones in the first two vertebrae of your spine experience excessive load. The irregular posture causes cervicogenic headaches and steady and non-throbbing pain at the back and base of your skull. The pain can also extend down to the neck, between the shoulder blades, and behind the brows and forehead.

Rounded Shoulders and Upper Back

Another effect of forward head syndrome is rounded shoulders and upper back. This disease can affect the movement patterns of the shoulder blades and humerus, resulting in scapular dyskinesis. Additionally, it is when the scapula deviates from its normal resting or active position when you move it.

Respiratory Issues

FHP can also weaken the respiratory muscles and negatively affect a person’s breathing as there is a change in the shape of a person’s organs. It causes the upper chest to expand while the lower portion contracts. 

Difficulty Balancing

You may also experience decreased balancing ability as the forward head posture affects your thoracic spine and shoulder blade. In addition, the shift of the line of gravity causes an overall imbalance in your musculoskeletal system.

What Causes Forward Head Posture?

Forward head syndrome is primarily caused by repeated hunching or slumping for prolonged periods. Having occupations that require you to lean forward, such as sewing and desk jobs, puts you at risk of developing FHP.

Apart from specific jobs, constant use of mobile phones, computers, and other electronics is a common cause for FHP as our heads are angled to a certain degree to look at the screens.

You can also develop forward head syndrome if you constantly carry a heavy backpack. Bags can put too much weight on the spine, causing postural instability and deficits. Moreover, the action increases your risk of falling, nerve impairments, and excessive curvature of the vertebrae.

Other causes include driving hunched over the wheel for long periods, sleeping with your head up too high, and reading in bed. You can also develop FHP from injury, arthritis, bone degeneration, and congenital malformation.

Head Forward Posture Symptoms

You can determine you have forward head syndrome if you experience any of the following:

  • Soreness: A dull or achy pain on your neck, upper back, shoulders, and the head is a tell-tale sign of FHP.
  • Intense pain: Another symptom is a sharp and burning sensation localized in one spot instead of spreading across different areas of your body. The discomfort may worsen as you move or put your neck in specific positions but will alleviate once at rest.
  • Trigger point pain: This sensation becomes more painful when touched. It is commonly found along the back of the neck, into the head, or down the shoulders.
  • Muscle tightness: An immobile or stiff neck results from inflamed and overworked muscles.

How to Fix Forward Head Syndrome

Undergo Chiropractic Care

Since FHP affects bones and muscles, who better to address your pain than chiropractors? They specialize in neuromuscular disorders and promote the healthy positioning of your spine by using manual manipulation and other modalities. Moreover, they can recommend habits to reduce your risk of recurrence and inform you of the correct forward head posture.

Use Smart Devices Responsibly

One of the leading causes of forward head syndrome is the use of mobile devices. Check if you’re prone to shifting your head and neck forward at an angle and if this causes any discomfort on your spine. If it does, we recommend switching positions to relieve the sensation. 

It will help if your devices are kept at eye level. A pro tip to remember is to move your eyes instead of your head and neck. Doing so keeps your head upright and in the proper position.

Try Ergonomics

Ergonomics are items fit for the people who use them. They are designed to contour to proper body positioning in finishing daily tasks. For instance, adjustable computer tables allow you to stand and have the screen at eye level. Some chairs also have adjustable arm height and width, lumbar support, and other convenient features.

Practice Posture-Correcting Exercises

You can practice various stretches and movements to reduce pain associated with forward head syndrome. For example, you can perform arm circles, chest openers, and ear-to-shoulder stretches. You can also consult a physical therapist to guide you in correcting your posture. They will provide therapeutic exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Know How to Maintain Proper Posture 

It’s common to experience forward head syndrome nowadays due to our daily lifestyles. It can be painful and, if left untreated, can develop into more chronic cases that are difficult to correct.

It’s best to pay attention to the little details of your habits, such as using your phone or how you stand. Minor changes to these actions can have significant impacts on your health. Getting professional chiropractic help to reposition your body and fix your posture is also a good idea. 

Learn more about proper spinal health by reading the LifeClinic blog.

Dr. Reza Alizadeh

Dr. Reza is the visionary behind LifeClinic. His leadership is the foundation for the patient and team member experience, and overall direction of the LifeClinic. As the creator of IMJT, Dr. Reza continues to be the primary teacher on this technique.

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