In the popular improvisational game, "Sit, Stand or Lean", three actors perform a scene, one sitting, one standing, and one leaning at all times. While the concept seems simple, hilarity often ensues as one actor changes position, forcing the other two actors to compensate for his new posture. Oddly enough, addressing chronic posture problems is a similar exercise. Whether we have sat at a desk for years, stood at a counter too long, or spent too many hours hunched over a keyboard, trying to correct a chronic posture problem often results in chasing a host of new compensatory issues in your body.
Traditional Method: Pain Medication
Chronic posture problems generally come with a host of chronic pain. From sciatic pain to spinal disc problems to carpal tunnel syndrome, poor posture can create a host of other physical ailments, most of which are painful. Traditional medicine suggests that alleviating pain will allow the person to change their habits. In reality, pain medication masks the problem doing anything to address its source. Prescription opioids are especially dangerous in these situations as accidental overdoses have more than quadrupled in the last 18 years.
Traditional Method: Surgery
Surgery is especially common in those who are experiencing chronic back, neck and limb pain as a result of postural problems. Carpal tunnel syndrome is believed to affect up to 6 percent of the adult population in the US. While short-term relief can often be found with corticosteroid injections, splints, and modifications to the work environment, it is commonly believed that long-term relief can only be found in surgical options. Likewise, herniated spinal discs, sciatic nerve pain and neuropathy are often treated in medical circles with surgery.
Alternative Methods: Physical Therapy
Traditionally, physical therapy is associated with post-surgical or post-injury care. Chronic posture problems are, in fact, use-related injuries that can benefit from the services physical therapists can offer. From strengthening exercises to massage therapy, physical therapy can address the muscular source of postural problems without medication or risky surgery.
Alternative Methods: Chiropractic Care
At their core, physical therapists believe that the muscles of the body control the positioning of the bones. For physical therapists, the interstitial spaces where spinal discs can become compressed due to prolonged sitting can only be opened through strengthening of the muscles of the back and stomach (also known as the core). With these muscles functioning properly the bones of the spine move into place creating pain relief. Chiropractors believe that the bones of the body, in fact, determine not only how the muscles function, but also how the entire nervous system functions as well. When the bones in the spine become fall out of alignment (also known as a subluxation), the nerves that come from the spine into the muscles of the body are not able to effectively transmit neurological signals. Once the bones of the spine are put into their proper place, the nerves that innervate the muscles are no longer sending pain or numbness signals to the brain.
While the options for treating chronic posture problems seem endless, it is important to focus on those that will provide long-term results with the fewest side effects. Chiropractic care and physical therapy not only provide short-term relief, they address the function of the body that can ultimately lead to better health.