How Poor Posture leads to Arthritis

Did your mom ever poke you while standing in church to stand or sit up straight?  Did your teachers ever hound you about the weight of your backpack and what it could be doing to your back?  Did you ever think you would be seeing a Chiropractor for the aches and pains related to your poor posture?


Lately I’ve been working with a number of patients who are suffering from upper back and neck pain.  They describe to me a nagging pain between the shoulder blades (scapula) that never seems to cease.  When their pain is aggravated by a particularly long or frustrating car ride or standing in line at the store, it can start to radiate pain up into the back of the neck and head.


When I examine these patients, I start to sound like their mother… as I am looking at their posture, I hear myself saying, “please stand as tall as you can” or “or sit up tall and pull your head back”.  This gives me an idea of how difficult or easy it is going to be for them to overcome this painful postural obstacle.  After further examination and review of their x-rays, I have my diagnosis:  subluxations and spondylosis (fancy word for arthritis) due to poor posture.  To me this is good news, yet when I look up at my patient from the screen showing the x-rays, they always look so defeated and I find myself saying to them, “Why the sad face?  I have seen worse, much worse.  And, let’s look on the bright side:  there are no fractures, no tumors, no bone pathology or even herniated discs to worry about.  You can improve!”


While it’s true we can’t turn back the hands of time and erase the arthritis, we can do something to relieve the pain and keep it from getting worse.  Many people imagine that arthritis is a disease of over use.  Patients picture an athlete such as a football player with ‘bad knees’, or they think of it as a disease that takes over their whole body.  But most arthritis in our bodies (osteoarthritis) stems from lack of motion of certain joints.


Subluxations of spinal bones can be more than just ‘bones that aren’t lined up properly’, they can be stuck in that position and when they get stuck, they prevent not only that bone, but the one above and below from moving properly.  In the situation with the patients I mentioned with pain between their shoulder blades, their vertebrae – usually T4-T6, became subluxated, fixated or stuck due to years of poor posture.  This chronically poor positioning with forward rounded and slumped shoulders and forward head carriage causes over stretching of the back muscles that support the upper torso and head.


What starts as a bad habit, over time creates a situation in which the muscles lose strength and those bones stay stuck and immobile.  This is when the arthritis begins to appear.  The bones of your spine get their nutrition from the sounding synovial (joint) fluid the way a sponge gets its food in the ocean currents.  When movement in that area of the spine stops because of the subluxations and weak muscles, these joints can no longer absorb nutrients to keep the endplates and soft cartilaginous structures healthy and they begin to calcify (harden).  This sets up a vicious cycle of pain, weakness, non-moving vertebrae, and arthritis.


Chiropractic care can help mitigate the symptoms, free up the stuck vertebrae and stop this damaging cycle.  Keeping those bones moving with chiropractic adjustments and specific postural exercises that target the stuck joints is the best way to prevent arthritis from ‘spreading’ to the next joint and to keep the joints from fusing completely.


Additionally, the nerve endings that exit from this area of the spine (T4-T6) control the esophagus, heart, stomach and diaphragm.  It’s no wonder so many patients with this type of poor posture also suffer from heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, heart palpitations and labored breathing.  IF you’d like help alleviating your pain, reducing the chances of worsening arthritis and improvement of your overall health, then a Chiropractic Physician may be the perfect practitioner for you.  Call (239) 243-8735 to schedule your consultation.  For more information on how Dr. Hoch helps patients with arthritis:

For some great information or help with postural exercises check out my friend Rita Pociask’s blog on posture!

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