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Relief for chronic neck and back pain–part 1, your posture


Published October 10, 2011

One of the most common complaints I seen in my anti-aging practice is chronic neck and back pain. Typically patients who complain of these symptoms tell me that they spend much of the day sitting, especially sitting in front of the computer. When I ask them about their posture most people tell me they slouch a bit and their shoulders and neck tend to be a bit forward while they’re typing.

When I examine the typical neck or back pain patient I notice two things. First, their lower back lacks a normal “lordosis,” which is to say that instead of having a gentle C shape, with the concave side facing backwards, they lack this curvature and instead have straightening of their lumbar spine with a backwards tilt. This is referred to as a “swayback.” When I examine their upper back and neck I notice that they have a forward curvature, what is referred to as a cervicothoracic kiphosis. A more extreme example of this is seen in elderly patients, especially women, who can become so bent forward that they are unable to raise up their head to look straight ahead, are at high risk of falling and need a walker.

One way of telling if you’re developing this type of problem is by standing with your back to a wall and your heels against the molding at the bottom of the wall. Bring your shoulders back so that they are touching the wall and then bring your head backwards so it is against the wall (without tilting your head upwards). You may need to ask someone if your head is tilted backwards or looking straight ahead. Then you should be able to comfortably hold this position for at least 10 seconds. The few people I see who can do this easily are those who do yoga regularly or do some other form of daily stretching. Almost everybody has difficulty. The degree of difficulty indicates the severity of the postural imbalance.

What we need is a quick, painless daily routine that can help straighten out our neck and back and help prevent pain and spasm from returning.

Stay tuned!

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