Chin on Chest Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Chin on chest syndrome is a spinal deformity in which the upper back curves forward more than normal, thus creating the appearance of a hump in the back. It is a type of hyperkyphosis.

Hyperkyphosis typically refers to an exaggerated, forward rounding of the back, usually with a more than 50 degrees curvature. Chin on chest syndrome is also called cervical kyphosis, dropped head syndrome, or head ptosis.

The disease can occur at any age.

According to its severity, chin on chest syndrome may require different treatment methods. While some patients with the condition may have mild symptoms, others may experience severe pain.

Overall, chin on chest syndrome is more often seen among older women. It is estimated that hyperkyphosis usually occurs when people are around the age of 60. Current studies show that the prevalence of chin on chest syndrome among older people is at 20% to 40%. As people’s age increase, the risk of having hyperkyphosis increase accordingly.

 

Causes

Hyperkyphosis usually happens when the bones of the spine or the vertebrae in the upper back become wedge-shaped. The following causes may lead to abnormal hyperkyphosis:

  • Broken or crushed vertebrae.

When there appear fractures, the vertebrae breaks and may lead to the curvature of the spine. This condition is most commonly seen among elder people who have been taking corticosteroids.

  • Disk degeneration.

The spinal disks are the cushioning and connective tissues between the vertebrae. When the disks degenerate, the hump may become more serious.

  • Birth defects.

Abnormal spinal bones can also lead to hyperkyphosis.

  • Motor neuron disease.

This condition causes progressive weakness of the muscles in the body.

  • Hypothyroidism.

When the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone, hypothyroidism occurs, which often results in a slow metabolism.

  • Cancer.

Spinal cancer, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy can weaken the vertebrae too.

 

Symptoms

Usually, chin on chest syndrome produces no noticeable signs or symptoms. That means the syndrome are often painless. But for some people with chin on chest syndrome, they may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Pain in the neck
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Titled downward head
  • Trouble in lifting or raising the head in a sitting or standing position
  • Weakness and numbness in the arms
  • Trouble in swallowing
  • Speaking problems
  • Breathing problems

 

Diagnosis

To give a detailed diagnosis, the doctor may perform a physical examination first in order to see if the patient’s reflexes, sensation and muscle strength are okay.

After that, the patient is likely to have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. With clear imaging of the patient’s neck, the doctor can then decide which treatment method to use.

Also, a muscle biopsy may also be needed to help the doctor to make a diagnosis.

 

Treatment

Depending on the severity, the patient’s age and specific conditions, the doctor may recommend different treatment methods.

If the condition is mild, the non-surgical method can be used. In often cases, the doctor may advise the patient to wear a neck collar, which can provide support to the neck. Also, it can be of use to prevent the contractures of the neck.

Besides, prednisone may also be prescribed by the doctor. It is an anti-inflammation drug for local myositis or inflammation of the muscles.

Prednisone – Uses & Side Effects

If there’s a necessary need for fusion, the doctor may recommend having surgery. That is to say, when there’s damage to the nerves in the neck or spinal cord, the patient with chin on chest syndrome will need surgical treatment.

After the surgery, the healing of fusion can take as long as three to nine months. In that case, physical therapy is often recommended. Neck extension strengthening exercises in the therapy can help the patient to prevent the neck from contracting again.

Moreover, occupational therapy serves as a good alternative too, providing help to strengthen the muscles.

 

Keywords: chin on chest syndrome; cervical kyphosis; dropped head syndrome; head ptosis.

 

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.