Wilmington Living Magazine article: Poor Posture Predictive of Poor Health
Submitted By: Dr. R. Todd Shaver
Date Submitted: 19 May 2014
Government, industry & families bear astronomical and ever rising cost related to the care of chronic pain and chronic disease. Efforts to avert chronic pain and chronic disease should utilize healthcare strategies and methods that reduce the causes of chronic pain and chronic disease. Posture abnormality is associated with and predictive of chronic disease and pain. Hence, correction of abnormal posture is a valid clinical goal, regardless of the presence or absence of pain.
The purpose of chiropractic structural rehabilitation of the spine & posture is restoration of structure and function; the purpose is NOT merely the relief of symptoms. It is common knowledge that chiropractic care provides safe and effective relief for a variety of pain syndromes and injuries. In a Wellness/Preventive approach to healthcare, this benefit is simply a very reliable side effect. The primary reason to receive chiropractic care is to optimize health potential; chiropractic care facilitates this by minimizing structural interference of the nervous system and minimizing degeneration of the spine’s nerve, osseous (bone) and supportive tissues (muscle, disc, ligament).
Why not focus just on symptoms? A study in the Journal of Neurosurgery demonstrated that sixty-four percent (64%) of subjects with herniated spinal discs but no symptoms eventually did develop symptoms of lower back pain and radiating pain into the legs within a 3-year time period . Other researchers confirm that it may take many years after an injury to the neck or back before enough scar tissue forms to cause symptoms and progressive neurological deficits; even though symptoms may be delayed by years after the initiating injury, progressive damage occurs to the spine after the injury on a daily basis, year after year at a subclinical level, meaning without pain . This progressive damage occurs because the injured spine changes shape and bears weight inefficiently which creates excessive wear & tear on the spine. Dysfunction, degeneration and suboptimal health develop BEFORE symptoms manifest!
It is the shape/configuration of the spine that largely determines posture. State and federal governmental sources stress the importance of posture for issues including injury prevention, pain avoidance, improved self-image, and improved chances at securing employment. Healthcare experts indicate that abnormal postures are associated with a vast array of problems; we will consider just a few in this discussion.
One study showed that posture affects … well, everything. A very damaging posture abnormality is forward shift of the head relative to the torso; this common posture problem occurs due to injuries (like car accidents and athletic injuries) and from poor posture habits (like sitting bent over a computer all day long). Forward head shift is typically progressive (it gets worse) over time. One study showed that all measures of health showed significant decline as forward head shift grew progressively worse. In simple terms, as posture worsened, health decreased .
Other researchers looked at the effect of posture on asthma and allergic respiratory symptoms. Flattening of the healthy rearward curve of the mid back (thoracic spine) and malposition of the upper & mid thoracic vertebrae have been associated with allergic diseases including bronchial asthma, hay fever, nasal allergic inflammation, and atopic dermatitis. Reduction/correction of these posture & spine abnormalities resulted in a reduction of such allergic symptoms .
Sustained, increased mechanical stress from inefficient weight bearing related to posture abnormality can cause degenerative changes like spinal disc bulging and herniation. Poor posture also causes elevated concentration of inflammatory substances which promote pain . In the presence of osteoporosis, postural stress alone is sufficient to produce compression fracture of the vertebral body . Even mild reversal of the healthy forward curve of the neck may cause damage to the spinal cord . Such reversal of the neck curve has been shown to cause demyelination of nerve fibers due to chronic compression of the spinal cord ; hence, this posture problem has possible implications for neurodegenerative disorders like M.S. and Parkinson’s.
The fact is, posture abnormality is associated with a vast array of ailments and functions including (among others): general pain syndromes, joint pain, uterine prolapse, gastric (stomach) herniation, respiratory function, cognition (thinking) sickness and death .
Chiropractic researchers have developed an effective protocol for the correction of abnormal alignment of the posture and spine. The protocol utilizes a combination of posture mirror-imaged procedures including spinal adjustments, therapeutic exercises and spinal orthotics and/or special traction procedures ix.
My point here is this: the symptom-oriented healthcare system that predominates in the U.S. is expensive and ineffective at producing wellness. For the physical and fiscal health of our society, it is necessary to transition to a Wellness Model of healthcare. Chiropractic spinal care is a key component of the Wellness approach to healthcare.