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The long term effects of poor posture are not known to many. We will disclose to you these effects through this article.
Posture: you know it is important to get it right, yet just hearing or reading the very word takes you back to your younger years, when a family member or maybe even a teacher would command you to sit up straight and have better posture. Well, as annoying as this may have been, it turns out that you really should be thanking those people for encouraging you to have a healthy posture early in life, especially if you find yourself being unable to relate to friends and family members whenever they complain about back or neck pain.
That is because a person’s posture actually plays quite a significant role in their overall health and wellness, but in particular, one of the top causes of pain and discomfort in the back and neck areas of the body is due directly to having a poor posture.
I recently came across an informative and engaging article post by Spine Health that revealed some of both the short term as well as the more long term negative effects on the body that come about as a result of having poor posture, and not doing anything to correct it at all. I would be glad to share what I learned about this important, yet not often talked about, health issue, since it really pertains to so many of us.
Even if you think you have great posture, you may want to keep reading just to make sure that you are making your posture, and therefore the health of your spine, a priority when it comes to your overall health and wellness.
If you occasionally find yourself slumping in your seat or hunched over while standing in line at the grocery store, you more than likely won’t feel any immediate effects of this posture. However, as soon as these positions start to become habitual and familiar to the body, the short term consequences of poor posture can begin to set in. This is when many people may tend to start experiencing back pain, headaches, and soreness and stiffness in the neck. In the short term, these issues can easily be resolved with time and maybe an ibuprofen, which may lead to the false conclusion that nothing else needs to be changed or taken care of.
However, poor posture that is continuous can begin to degrade the spinal discs, which can lead to inflammation in the surrounding soft tissues. This can lead to more severe and chronic pain that is harder to treat. Fortunately, chiropractic care can be utilized for better back and spinal health regardless of your stage of life. Getting regular spinal adjustments can help you live a healthier lifestyle overall.
Long term effects of poor posture that you need to know and take caution.
This is also known as adult kyphosis.
The word “kyphosis” describes a type of curve in the spine. A kyphotic curve is normally present in the thoracic spine (the part of the spine in the chest area). A kyphotic curve looks like the letter “C” with the opening of the C pointing towards the front. Though the thoracic spine is supposed to be curved, if the curve in a person’s thoracic spine is more than 40 to 45 degrees, it is considered abnormal – or a spinal deformity.
Adult kyphosis can have varying symptoms and degrees of severity, from minor changes in the shape of your back, to severe deformity, nerve problems, and chronic pain. Kyphosis is most common in the thoracic spine, though it can also affect the cervical and lumbar spine.
There are several causes of kyphosis in adults. The first is congenital, which means it is a condition present from birth. A congenital spine problem affects the development of the spine. The second cause is traumatic, which means it is caused by a trauma or injury to the spine. Third are “iatrogenic factors”; these are from the effects of medical treatment or surgery. Finally, osteoporosis can cause kyphosis in adults. Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to major losses of bone mass, leaving the bones brittle and prone to fractures. Osteoporosis is the most common cause of kyphosis in adults. It is much more common in women than men, due to losses of estrogen in menopausal and postmenopausal women.
Kyphosis can be effectively treated. Methods of treatment have evolved over time. Originally, body casts were used to treat kyphosis. Later, treatment turned to surgery. Today there are numerous effective treatment options for correcting a severe kyphotic deformity.
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There are many types of adult kyphosis. This section will discuss the major types and causes of kyphosis.
Postural kyphosis, or “round back”, is the result of poor posture. This condition is most common in adolescents and young adults, as they often slouch when standing and sitting, causing the spine to curve forward.
Postural kyphosis is often accompanied by “hyperlordosis” of the lumbar (lower) spine. The lumbar spine naturally has a “lordosis”, a backward “C”-shape. Hyperlordosis means the lumbar spine compensates for the excessive thoracic kyphosis by curving more in the opposite direction.
A postural kyphosis corrects itself when lying down on a flat surface, or when the spine is hyper-extended. On X-rays, there will not be any vertebral abnormalities, because structural damage or deformity does not cause this kyphosis. In fact, postural kyphosis is rather easily corrected with education about proper posture and some retraining on how to sit and stand correctly. Treatment does not need to include casting, bracing, or exercise. However, strengthening the back muscles can help with proper posture.
With Scheuermann’s kyphosis, the thoracic curve is usually 45 and 75 degrees. There will also be vertebral wedging of greater than five degrees of three or more vertebrae that are next to each other. The vertebrae in these cases have a triangular appearance, so they wedge together and cut down the normal space between vertebrae.
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With Scheuermann’s disease, there is also the presence of Schmorl’s nodes at the ends of the affected (wedged) vertebrae. These nodes are small herniations of intervertebral disc (the cushion between each vertebra) in the vertebra’s endplates. A herniated disc is when a disc’s outer fibers (the annulus) are damaged and the soft inner material of the nucleus pulposus ruptures out of its normal space. With Scheuermann’s, there are also thickened anterior longitudinal ligaments, and the tightness of these ligaments may contribute to the spinal deformity. Ligaments connect bones together, including spinal vertebrae.
The cause of Scheuermann’s kyphosis has not been discovered, but there are many possible theories about its development. Scheuermann, the Danish radiologist for whom the disease is named, was the first to notice the problem. He proposed that the problem was a result of a process of “avascular necrosis” of the cartilage ring of the vertebral body. This means the cartilage of the spinal bone’s ring died because it lacked the necessary blood supply. Scheuermann believed that this interrupted bone growth during development, leading to wedge-shaped vertebrae.
Most researchers think that some sort of damage to the growth area of the vertebrae starts the process. The abnormal growth that follows is what causes the excessive kyphosis. For instance, there may be a vertebral disorder during the rapid growth spurts of adolescence, which then leads to abnormal bone growth. Many spine specialists also suspect that problems with the mechanics of the spine (the way it is put together and functions) play a part in Scheuermann’s kyphosis. Others suggest mild osteoporosis could contribute to the deformity. Muscle abnormalities have been considered as a possible cause. There also seems to be a high genetic predisposition to this disease, which means that it runs in families.
To learn more about Scheuermann’s kyphosis, you may wish to review the document, entitled:
Congenital kyphosis refers to abnormal development of the spine that is inherited. This means a person is born with some sort of defect, such as incomplete formation of the spine, which can lead to a severe abnormal kyphosis. This kyphosis is also the most common non-traumatic, non-infectious cause of paraplegia (paralysis of the lower part of the body).
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With congenital kyphosis, there is a strong (20-30%) association of congenital abnormalities with the body’s urinary collecting system. If this type of kyphosis is suspected, your doctor may suggest that you have an IVP (a type of X-ray that looks at the kidneys), a myelogram, or an MRI done. The myelogram and the MRI scan are done to make sure that the parts of the spine have developed normally.
Treatment for severe congenital kyphosis deformities is usually surgery. If necessary, early surgical intervention generally produces the best results and can prevent progression of the curve. The type of surgical procedure will depend on the nature of the abnormality.
Conservative (non-surgical) treatment plans are less successful at correcting this type of kyphosis. If non-surgical treatment is chosen, there is a critical need for observation and close medical follow-up to prevent serious problems later.
Conditions that cause paralysis can lead to kyphosis. The kyphosis that results is a secondary result of the paralysis. The causes of the paralysis can include disorders such as Polio, spinal muscle atrophy (a deterioration that leads to paralysis), and Cerebral Palsy (paralysis caused by trauma at birth or developmental defects in the brain). The development of kyphosis in these cases is gradual rather than sudden.
Injury to the spine can lead to both progressive kyphosis and nerve problems in the spine. When the trauma is a vertebral fracture in the thoracic or lumbar spine, 90% of the time some degree of kyphosis will result. Treatment for post-traumatic kyphosis can include either bracing or surgery. The choice will depend upon the severity of the condition.
Kyphosis can develop after surgery of the spine to correct other problems. This usually occurs when the surgery performed does not heal as intended. For example, a spine fusion may not heal. The unstable fusion may cause the spine to collapse into a kyphosis. The ligaments of the spine may not heal strong enough to support the vertebrae and allow the spine to form a kyphotic curve. These conditions may require a second operation to try to correct the problem.
There are also cases of kyphosis that are caused by degeneration, or wear and tear of the lumbar (lower) spine. Over time, the degenerative process can result in: collapse of the intervertebral disc, changes in the shape of the vertebrae, and weakening of the ligaments that support the spine. This can result in the gradual development of a kyphosis over many years. Once the kyphosis begins to form, it gets worse because the imbalance of the forces continually increase the wear and tear.
Different types of systemic diseases can cause a kyphosis to develop over time. These conditions include: infection in the spine, cancer or tumors that involve the spine, and different types of systemic arthritis. This type of kyphosis is caused by changes in the spine brought on by inflammation of the tissue in the area surrounding the thoracic spine. Kyphosis can also develop in people who were treated for a malignant (cancerous) childhood disease by radiation to the axial skeleton.
The symptoms of kyphosis can range from causing pain to severely affecting the function of the lungs and heart. Kyphosis can be painful and cause pain primarily in the area of the kyphosis. If the curve is severe it can begin to put pressure on the spinal cord and cause problems due to the compression of the nerves of the spinal cord. This can cause weakness in the lower extremities. Finally if the kyphosis is in the thoracic spine the curve can make it difficult to breath and affect the function of the heart as well.
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If kyphosis is suspected in an adult, a diagnosis must be made before an appropriate treatment plan can be developed.
Be sure to have a proper posture on time to avoid having a hunch back later.