What is Ligament Creep?

Did you know that ligament creep is the cause of much neck pain in our modern society? Creep signifies the slow stretching of soft tissue. Ligament creep most commonly occurs because of forward head posture from hours of computer work, playing on mobile devices or texting on a smart phone. Keeping the head and neck in this position stretches the neck ligaments beyond the point they should be stretched while stabilizing the head. For every inch of forward head posture, the force on the spine increases by an additional 10-12 pounds. Therefore, a 12 pound head held 3 inches forward can put 42 pounds of pressure on the spinal ligaments. Hunching over a cell phone or computer for as little as 20 minutes can increase the laxity of these ligaments. Many tech activities encourage this forward head posture and put the cervical vertebral ligaments in a stretched position.

Creep can cause a chronic cycle of neck pain and headaches. As the ligaments become weaker, the head-forward position increases, because the ligaments can no longer keep the cervical vertebrae in proper alignment. Then the neck muscles start to tighten, to limit the range of motion and decrease the load on the ligaments, resulting in muscle spasms. In this pain scenario, muscles can atrophy in a relatively short time.  Injured ligaments unfortunately heal very slowly, because they have minimal blood supply, which limits the necessary nourishment to promote healing. The result is acute pain, followed by chronic pain, and possibly nerve pathologies. Muscle, posture, and realignment therapies may only be temporarily beneficial since the ligament tissue that holds the vertebrae in alignment is weak. Prolotherapy, a regenerative treatment to tighten and strengthen ligaments, can typically resolve the root cause of neck pain and effectively eliminate the problem.