Technology Syndrome.....Headaches (And Neck Pain)
If you are just joining us, we are working our way through a series exploring what has been deemed "Technology Syndrome". It closely follows a broader category in the literature called Disruptive Technology Disorder (DTD).
DTD describes the human health ailments that accompany the implementation of disruptive technologies. Elevator sickness, railway spine, and bicycle face* are representative examples. We are narrowing down our parameters to conditions that are driven by today's technology: for the most part phones, computers, etc. and the postures that go with them. In addition, rather than just describe them, we will go over some ideas on how to treat or better yet, prevent them!
This six topics we are covering are:
TMJ Issues (Temporomandibular Disorder) Headaches (And Neck Pain) Shoulder Pain and stiffness Carpal Tunnel and related disorders Lower Back pain Anxiety and Depression We just wrapped up TMJ Issues and you can catch up on these articles on our web-site.
This month we are going to start in on Headaches (and some neck pain as a bonus !). Who among us haven't experienced a headache ? Headaches can range from a dull low grade ache to a full on stabbing and piercing ice pick in the forehead feeling. The headaches most commonly associated with technology are called "Cervicogenic Headaches". predominately because abnormal posture puts stress and strain across the structures of the neck, especially the upper part.
You remember this guy from our introductory article. In looking at his posture we note the following: First, normal posture would be the head balanced directly over the shoulders, the phone shifts the head forward. Second, in order to look down at his screen, the head is angled down, this is easy to tell by comparing the arm of his glasses to the horizontal. Finally, in order to balance the head going forward, the upper back is forced to push back and this ends up rounding his shoulders. This is commonly termed Forward Head Posture (FHP). Last time we saw him we focused on how the FHP pulled the jaw backward and could cause TMJ. This time we are going to focus on what happens when you stress the upper neck by looking down at screens; this puts stress and strain across the structures of the neck, especially the upper part, and these areas directly connect to something called the trigeminocervical nucleus. I am going to go a little bit science nerd on you here for a second, but trust me, it is really important for understanding cervicogenic, and really all most all other types of headaches!
One Ring To Rule Them All !
OK, please forgive me for the Lord of The Rings reference. I just finished reading the trilogy (It stuck pretty close to the movie!). For those of you not familiar with the story line, suffice it to say that there is one ring in the whole land, that when the villain possess it, things are going to get bad. Interestingly enough, there is actually one neurological location that ALL HEADACHES have to pass through: The Trigeminal Nucleus . Most of you who have been in our office for care over the years have undoubtedly heard us relate your nervous system to the wiring of your house. For instance, you may have a lamp that plugs into the wall, that wall socket is connected to a line that may have several other things on it (your TV, refrigerator etc.) and eventually that line goes to a fuse box with a lot of other lines. All the lines in the fuse box are connected to the main line that comes in from outside and runs your homes electrical system. In this analogy the lamp would represent an end organ ( a muscle, patch of skin, organ) the line in the wall would represent one of the spinal nerves, the fuse box would represent various nuclei (these are higher order processing spots for information before it goes to the brain) located in the spinal cord and brainstem and the outside line would represent your brain. If there is something wrong with the line in the wall, like it is overloaded, it can flip a breaker switch. Depending on how sophisticated the wiring in your house is it might just shut off the power altogether to that line, or it might re-route part of it and text your i-phone! The wiring in your body is VERY SOPHISTICATED! The primary place that processes both neck pain and headache pain is The Trigeminal Nucleus, The one ring to rule them all ! Guess where the Trigeminal Nucleus gets it's information ? The upper three nerves in the neck, and the TMJ! The upper three nerves in the neck are connected to all kinds of muscle, ligaments and joints in and around your neck, head and shoulders, including your jaw. If any of these structures is compromised, giving to much or to little information to your brain, pain can ensue.
Which Way Are We Going Next ?
Next week we have a little more to cover on headaches, but we ware going to spend the majority of the time focusing on self tests to identify if you have some areas that are compromised and either giving you headaches, or might soon be about to!
Yours in Health,