Anterior Head Syndrome and Its Effects on You

Anterior Head Syndrome is a secondary condition caused by structural shifts in the upper spine which can lead to a variety of health concerns which many people in West Des Moines deal with every day.


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Do You Have One of These 5 Warning Signs?

If you or someone you know has one or more of the following signs, it is likely an indication of a structural abnormality in the body’s inner framework, the spine.

1.) Chronic Headaches

Headaches are a huge indicator that someone has a problem in their upper spine. There are many different types of headaches and a few stand out in relation to spinal structure.

  • Migraine headaches
  • Occipital headaches (start in the back of the skull)
  • Tension Headaches – with pain centers around the side of the head and jaw

Just because headaches are common does NOT mean they are normal. Many people suffering for months or years have a structural problem in their upper spine. Abnormalities in this area can disrupt proper blood flow to the head and face and disrupt proper nervous system function throughout the whole body.

2.) Popping and Cracking of the Spinal Bones

This typically indicates that one or more segments of a person’s spine have become unstable. There is an increased risk for serious injury and spinal decay can occur in these areas at an accelerated pace.

3.) Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS)

AHS occurs when the center of the ear has shifted in front of the center of the shoulder. This causes a loss of the healthy C-curve in the upper spine and can also lead to spinal decay.

AHS is often associated with the dreaded Dowager’s (Granny) Hump appearance common in women.

Anterior Head Syndrome

Other secondary conditions associated with AHS include:

  • Spinal Decay
  • Migraine headaches
  • TMJ Disorder
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Neck pain
  • and more…

4.) Numbness and Tingling

Numbness or tingling down the arms or the legs is also a big warning sign. There may be a spinal problem that has progressed to the point where the nerves branching from the spinal cord are being affected. Nerves are very important and fragile. It only takes a small amount of pressure on them to create secondary issues in the body.

5.) Uneven Head or Shoulders

If you look in the mirror and see your head tilted slightly to one side or the other, and one of your shoulders more elevated than the other, this is a very strong indicator that there is likely a problem with the Upper Spine.

When you look in the mirror with your head relaxed, you should be able to draw a straight horizontal line through the following points:

  • Bottom of the ears
  • Corners of the eyes
  • Corners of the mouth
  • Tops of the shoulders

The Upper Spine is where the skull attaches to the neck and is a critically important area of the spine. A problem here can affect the entire body.

head tilt

If you, a friend, or family member has one or more of the above warning signs do not wait for them to get better on their own! These are signs that indicate a structural abnormality. Problems with structure lead to problems with function in your body. The sooner these problems are detected and then corrected, the better the outcome will be.


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What’s that Hump Behind My Neck? Can I Get Rid of it?


Have you noticed a squishy bump on the back of the neck of yourself or a loved one and wondered what it was?  One of the most common postural deformities for women (and sometimes men, too) is seen on the image to the left; the small little hump at the point where the neck meets the upper back. Most women feel like this hump makes them appear heavier and older, and look for ways to conceal it.  It is a common feature in women as they age, so it naturally creates a sense of insecurity about one’s age when it appears.

So, what where did this hump come from? Is it from aging? Is it a hormone problem? Can you get rid of it?

Dowager’s Hump

The rounding of the upper part of the spine is commonly referred to as a Dowager’s Hump.  In medical terms it is called hyperkyphosis. Both terms describe a pronounced rounding of the spine near the head and neck.  Not all rounding is bad.  The upper back is supposed to have a slight rounded appearance.  In the more pronounced cases, there is extra curving is this area of the spine. This extra rounding is often accompanied by a small pad of fat on top of the hump.

A Dowager’s Hump can be caused by postural distortion and muscular imbalances affecting the neck, chest, and upper back.aging-posture-300x168

How Does This Happen?

If the rounding is NOT related to spinal fractures, osteoporosis, or hormonal issues like Cushing’s Syndrome then you are dealing with a problem that is primarily posture related.

Common posture-related causes include:

  1. Long hours in front of a computer and/or a mobile device.
  2. Frequently carrying children around.
  3. Muscular imbalances in the upper body.
  4. Structural Shifts of the spine, specifically Anterior Head Syndrome. 

Can it be Fixed?

Any type of humping related to a deformity in the spine like a fracture, severe scoliosis, or congenital malformation is not changeable.  You cannot change the shape of anatomy that has been broken or misshapen.

However, if the humping is related to posture, then there are options for improvement.

– Postural corrective exercises can be performed to address weak musculature.

– Massage therapy can be performed to address a component of muscular imbalances related to upper cross syndrome.

– Fat pad removal which is performed by plastic surgeons to remove the fatty pad on the back of a hump.

The above steps can help reduce the superficial effects of a Dowager’s Hump.

However, it is important to understand that there is a Structural issue stemming from this phenomenon. The reason most people who have this humping are older is because a shifting of the spine can advance the age of your spine through degeneration.

One of the most important conditions to address in people with a Dowager’s Hump is Anterior Head Syndrome (AHS).  AHS is when the head shifts forward in front of the chest.  This creates slumped or rounded shoulders, collapsed chest posture, which can result in a variety of secondary problems like neck and arm pain, headaches, numbness and tingling.

Anterior Head Syndrome

Anterior Head Syndrome is a common cause of Dowager’s Hump

Over time, if this issue isn’t addressed, the joints of the neck stop moving smoothly and lock the head in that forward position. When the forward shifting of the head is corrected, the rest of the spine will often shift back into a normal position again and reduce the rounding automatically.

Reducing AHS can decrease the appearance of Dowager’s.  More importantly, it can help decrease the likelihood you or a loved one suffers from secondary conditions as a result of AHS. If you’re serious about addressing this issue, then don’t let your fix be purely cosmetic in nature.

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