Usually when I see this it is associated with forward head posture. Forward head posture occurs for many reasons. You may have had a neck injury or whiplash injury that moved your spine and was never corrected, or it could be from repetitive motion or repetitive posture.
Especially with the advent of computers, laptops, and mobile devices, you see many people logging long hours with their heads down and forward. This is the posture I am referring to.
What happens when the head moves forward is that the cervical spine often loses curvature. The upper back follows and begins to hunch outward. This often creates what is called an increase in kyphosis. A kyphotic curve is found in the thoracic or thoracic spine, also known as the upper and middle back. In the neck and lower back, the curve opens to the back and is called lordosis.
An accentuation of one of these curves is called hyperlordosis, and a flattening or loss of one of these curves is called hypolordosis. One more thing to keep in mind is that in some cases of head forward and stooping of the upper back we see a cervical kyphosis. This is when the normal “C” curve in the neck, cervical lordosis, actually curves in the wrong direction. And don’t forget that any misalignment, even millimeters, is enough to block nerve flow by more than 50% of the normal amount.
A cervical kyphosis places an abnormally high strain on the spinal column, as well as the spinal cord, nerves, and muscles in the neck and upper back. Imagine taking a loose rubber band, pulling it up and stretching it, this is analogous to what you would be doing to your spinal cord. However, this is a topic for another ezine.
Let’s go back to the upper back. In some cases, we see an extreme hump in the upper back and hyperkyphosis in the thoracic spine. This is often associated with severe degeneration and osteoporosis. Sometimes we will see fractures of the vertebrae that allow this extreme change in alignment to occur. This is called a widow’s hump.
Whatever the case, I see slouching in my upper back more often than I would like. I see it in patients and they often come to the office with neck or back pain, but not always. I also see it sometimes in relatives, people in the store, whatever, just look around.
Remember that if your posture starts to look like this, then your spine will look like this too and will usually continue to get worse. Use postural exercises to prevent and get rid of this hump. Also, always be aware of your posture; This can make a big difference because you can correct it if you are in too long a position or if you find yourself with your head forward frequently. Lastly, a great posture correction tool is a neck pillow. Not only will you avoid this bad posture, but it will also keep the nerves pressure-free in other cases.