One scary fact is that over 60% of the world population suffers some degree of FHP (Forward Head Posture) and 95% of those do not even have the slightest idea what FHP is or whether they could possibly be exhibiting symptoms of FHP. Another great concern is that forward head posture is quite difficult to control since many people who maintain protruding heads (slumpy posture) do it involuntarily. The damaging effects also become bigger the longer the symptoms go untreated.
So how do you know whether you are showing signs of FHP and what are some of the common symptoms of Forward Head Posture?
#1 – Bruxism (Misaligned Jawbone)
The tension created at the shoulders sets off a chain reaction that exerts enough pressure on the (now slightly heavier) skull culminating in a parafunctional activity of the jawbone known as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction. This results in abnormal gnashing of teeth which can be exacerbated by irregular sleeping positions. Consequently, about 90% of the people developing Bruxism never notice because much of the teeth grinding and anomalous clenching of the jaw happens during sleep. Unlike normal function like talking or eating, extended and untreated Bruxism finally leads to fractured, loose, flattened, or chipped teeth which may only be noticed when visiting a dentist or when bite problems become evident.
#2 – Abstruse Tiredness (Fatigue)
As the head continues to lean forward due to FHP, the resulting long-term slumping effect causes the head to progressively become heavier by about 10lbs for every inch advanced forward from the correct position. This misalignment of the body puts too much strain on the neck and shoulders (and ultimately the entire body) leaving the person with inexplicable feelings of fatigue.
#3 – Compounded Headaches
It starts with an irritating headache that keeps coming back sporadically, then more often. The situation can quickly escalate to unremitting tension-type headaches, post-concussion headaches, migraines, or cervicogenic headaches. The high tension placed on suboccipital nerves as a result of overly stretched levator scapulate muscles is the main causal factor of these headaches. The etiologies, however, differ from individual to individual which is primarily dependent on genetic variation and physiological responses.
#4 – Facial Pain
Otherwise known as Trigeminal neuralgia, this facial pain condition is caused by affected trigeminal nerves that carry sensations to the brain from the face. Trigeminal neuralgia amplifies even the slightest stimuli to the face causing excruciating pain from simple daily activities such as putting on make-up, or brushing your teeth!
#5 – Comorbid Sleep Disorders
FHP can trigger a series of sleep disorders that may not be so obvious at first. The first of these sleeping disorders is sleep apnea which leads to oxygen deprivation in the body, specifically to the brain, due to interrupted breathing during sleep. Bruxism is partly responsible for the exacerbation of innumerable sleep apnea cases. Insomnia or poor sleep is also another possible sleep disorder caused by FHP.
#6 – Neck Pain
Persistent neck pains could easily mean the development of FHP for some individuals. In addition to the strain exerted on the levator scapulae muscles, other muscles around the neck (e.g. the 3 scalene muscles, splenius muscles, deltoid muscles, stenodeidomastoid muscles, and the trapezius muscles e.t.c.) suffer similar difficulty and enduring the permanent pressure could easily weaken these neck muscles leading to Myofascial pain syndrome or fibromyalgia if the FHP condition continues unimpeded. Strained nerves might also get pinched by misaligned disc vertebrae in the cervical curve causing pain around the neck area or a tingling and numbness effect that may descend to the person’s arms due to the interference of the nervous system which impairs normal chemical and electrical transmission processes. Exacerbations of these neck pains can sometimes go down the shoulder and further down to the spine causing terrible mid or lower back pains which can also be listed separately as one of the symptoms of FHP.
#7 – Dyspnea (Shortness of Breath)
Some of the pressure created on a person’s upper torso musculoskeletal structure is transferred to the ribcage resulting in the constriction of lungs hence respiratory muscle strength is significantly diminished. This lung capacity reduction can affect a person’s breathing by up to 30% resulting in shortness of breath. A quick visit to a physician is recommended when such symptoms of dyspnea are detected.
#8 – Decreased Height
One of the major risks of FHP is definitely the resultant domino effect. When the body framework is misaligned or considerably off-balanced, spinal tissues are subject to a significant load for a continuous period and therefore they undergo deforming and remodeling modifications that could eventually become permanent because the neck and shoulders have to carry this weight all leading to isometric contractions which in turn cause neck muscles to lose blood, and subsequently get damaged. Shoulder blades with a burning pain in-between the blades can force a kyphotic posture which is usually followed by an anterior pelvic tilt since the body adjusts to compensate for the upper torso which causes hip extensors and tight hip flexor muscles further affecting an individual’s overall height depending on the severity of the person’s FHP condition.
#9 – Arthritis
Prolonged postural deviation in consequence of incorrect positioning of the spine and overall bone structure may cause damage to ligaments, muscles, and joints as well as the impingement of nerves and disc herniations leading to possible degenerative joints and maybe neck arthritis or radicular symptoms after a few years. However, this symptom may not be easily differentiated from Myofascial pain syndrome in some cases therefore expert diagnosis is imperative.
#10 – Rounded Shoulders & Decreased Range of Motion
The movement range for both your back and neck are seriously compromised with the excess tension on the neck that restricts flexibility. Moreover, as the body endeavors to offset the excessive tension applied to the neck, the shoulders become more rounded and in a drooping position.
The following symptoms may also be a sign of FHP and therefore anyone experiencing any or a combined number of these symptoms should visit their doctor as soon as possible.
– Poor appetite
– Muscle spasms around the neck and shoulders
– Tightness or soreness of the neck and chest muscles
– Abnormal eye and ear function
– Blood pressure