Belvidere, NE – No-Shave November is right around the corner, and thousands of clean-shaven men will be growing beards to help raise awareness and money for the fight against cancer. Chiropractors across the country are also raising awareness of the unfortunate reality that many of these men will suffer potentially life-threatening negative health effects caused by postural changes and increased pressure on the cervical spine. 

Chiropractic neurologists blame the Star Wars prequels on chronic beard neck-induced encephalopathy

“Everything comes down to posture and the mysterious force of gravity,” Dr. Frank Grimes, a chiropractor in Belvidere who specializes in neck bones and facial hair health, explained. “The average full beard adds upwards of 88 pounds of angular face weight. This leads to a forward leaning neck position and an additional 400 newtons of force is required to keep the cervical spine from simply snapping like a dry twig.”

Grimes coined the phrase “beard neck” a decade ago and has since demonstrated its impact using powerful functional MRI technology in a study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health comparing subjects with and without full beards. He points to one such fMRI pairing on a poster placed in one of the exam rooms in his bustling chiropractic clinic and barbershop. “The brain on the right is a man with a glorious natural full beard who eventually succumbed to acute beard neck. Do you see how some areas are brighter? That’s the problem at a cellular level.”

Beard epidemiologist James Dalton, who works at Portland State University and sports an ample 9-month Garibaldi beard, believes that more than 100 million new beards will be grown this November. And men with new beards appear to be most at risk, particularly those attempting the audacious Bandholz style. “These are men with relatively weak neck muscles who are simply unprepared. I recommend that rookies start with something simple like a soul patch or a goatee, and only work their way up to a full beard, perhaps a sassy French Fork, after 1 to 2 years of targeted exercises to strengthen the supportive musculature.”

Once acute beard neck as set in, proper treatment is necessary to prevent weakened muscles and ligaments from collapsing. This can lead to a spinal misalignment, known to chiropractic experts as a subluxation, that can interfere with the function of cervical spinal nerves by pathological musculoskeletal dynamics or even direct compression by a vertebral segment or bulging disk. Pain is a common consequence, but widespread organ dysfunction and even death can result.

Only a chiropractor certified in facial hair health, like Dr. Grimes, has the experience and expertise to handle beard neck and any related consequences. “Often I can help prevent problems before they even start. And if a patient is already symptomatic, appropriate treatment is almost always successful as long as they don’t wait too long to come in. Sadly, sometimes the beard just can’t be saved and I have to recommend barbathanasia.”

New beards may be more likely to result in acute beard neck, but are the millions of men around the world still hanging on to their pandemic beards off the hook? What about beard veterans who have sported lengthy growths, like a lumberjack or a bold power beard, for decades?  According to Dr. Grimes, men who have kept their rugged look even after the SARS-CoV-2 virus mysteriously disappeared in August of 2022 as well as those who have had a beard since childhood are still at risk of developing serious complications:

A typical full beard adds an additional 400 newtons of postural torque to what the neck of a man with face baldness has to deal with when sitting or standing upright. It may take years in men with better conditioned face and neck muscles, but the spine is eventually going to be pulled out of alignment, which forces them to lean backwards enough to counterbalance the weight. I’ve seen healthy adult men reduced to being pulled around in a wagon, and some of them end up suffocated by the weight of their beard. It’s really sad.”

Grimes has published a series of landmark case reports in the prestigious Online Publishing Module #79,215: Beard Neck, Text Neck, Really All the Necks demonstrating the potential destructive nature of beard neck as well as the power of chiropractic treatment. He recalls one encounter while backpacking in Acadia National Park in August. “This guy had collapsed near Thunder Hole and he was short of breath, weak, dehydrated, and riddled with cervical subluxations under a bushy Balbo beard. I never leave home without my travel Activator, and after a few highly specific adjustments and a quart of rehydration solution he was able to make it back to his car unassisted.”

There are frequently unintended and unexpected consequences when large numbers of people make sudden lifestyle changes without proper planning, and the epidemic of beard neck with its many physical, mental, and spiritual complications is no exception. According to Grimes, even he has been surprised by some of the changes he’s seen. “The human body is always evolving in order to find an equilibrium, but it’s an imperfect process. I’ve seen a number of men with beards who have developed so-called “male pattern baldness” over the past few years and I have to wonder if it’s an attempt to shift hair weight into a more balanced distribution.

Dr. Grimes is currently offering a November Beard Neck special package at a significant discount. This includes weekly tracking of beard depth and weight along with a full electrodiagnostic assessment of the underlying support structures and corrective treatment, if indicated, for only $99. Call today!

Beneath the beard

It should be clear that I’m attempting to mock the concept of text neck in today’s post. Text neck is a marketing concept invented by a chiropractor to sell chiropractic and does not actually exist. This doesn’t mean that people don’t experience neck pain from a variety of causes, only that complaints of neck pain do not correlate well with use of smartphones. It’s important to remember that people have been looking down for thousands of years, if only to avoid falling into an open manhole, and posture has always been a poor predictor of neck and back pain despite what you might have heard from your mother or your…posturologist?

But if text neck were real, I would definitely recommend spinal fusion to treat it.

Posted by Clay Jones

Clay Jones, M.D. is a pediatrician and a regular contributor to the Science-Based Medicine blog. He primarily cares for healthy newborns and hospitalized children, and devotes his full time to educating pediatric residents and medical students. Dr. Jones first became aware of and interested in the incursion of pseudoscience into his chosen profession while completing his pediatric residency at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital a decade ago. He has since focused his efforts on teaching the application of critical thinking and scientific skepticism to the practice of pediatric medicine. Dr. Jones has no conflicts of interest to disclose and no ties to the pharmaceutical industry. He can be found on Twitter as @SBMPediatrics and is the co-host of The Prism Podcast with fellow SBM contributor Grant Ritchey. The comments expressed by Dr. Jones are his own and do not represent the views or opinions of Newton-Wellesley Hospital or its administration.