Normal neck curve? All of us, at one time or another, have probably been told to stand or sit up straight. The primary structure that allows us to follow that wise advice and demonstrate good posture is our spine. Likewise, when our posture is poor, this puts strain and pressure on the spine and supporting structures and can create problems down the road.
This emphasis on a straight posture may, understandably, make you envision your spine, which stretches from the base of your skull all the way down to your pelvis, as straight. However, if you could stand sideways in front of a mirror and see all the way through to the spine, a normal spine would have three gentle counterbalancing curves. If there is too much curve at any point or not enough, this can be a problem. Today we’re going to talk about the straightening of that normal neck curve, or, using the medical terminology in case you see it on your X-ray, the straightening of the normal cervical lordosis.
What Is the Cervical Lordosis or Normal Neck Curve?
Straightening of the normal cervical lordosis is a bit of a mouthful, but cervical lordosis is simply the normal inward curve in the cervical spine, or neck. There is also a lumbar lordosis (an inward curve in the lumbar spine). Between the two, in the upper back, there is a thoracic kyphosis, which is a normal outward curve in the spine. These curves balance the head and help you stand with minimal effort. Additionally, they also keep the forces between each vertebral disc (at the front of the spine) and its associated facet joint (at the back of the spine) equally distributed. Straightening of the cervical lordosis, then, means straightening of the normal neck curve.
What Causes the Neck to Straighten?
While traumatic injuries to the neck (e.g. car accident) may be a direct cause of straightening of the neck curve, there are other issues that may straighten our cervical spine over time. In our modern technology-centered world today, where some people can spend hours each week hunched over their handheld devices, it’s all but thrown the “sit up straight” advice right out the door.
Another cause for cervical straightening could be a sedentary lifestyle. If you come home from work each day and sit on your couch for the rest of the evening, especially if you are noticing tightness in your chest wall or hips as you sit, this may be causing a problem all the way up in your cervical spine. The entire spine, as well as the entire body, is an interconnected machine, and stress in one area of the spine, for example, can create problems anywhere along the spinal chain as other areas attempt to compensate for the stress. The normal process of aging can also create problems with the curve in the spine, so regular spine maintenance is important as you reach middle age and beyond.
Why Is The Straightening of the Cervical Lordosis a Problem?
If you have lost this normal curve in your neck, you may be experiencing regular neck and/or head pain and perhaps even the feeling that your head is too heavy for your neck. Why? Because the cervical spine can no longer properly support the weight of the head, which requires the counterbalance between the cervical curve (lordosis) and thoracic curve (kyphosis). This causes the muscles to pick up the slack to balance the head. However, this isn’t the job those muscles are intended to do, so this added stress on the muscles creates neck and head pain.
Another important factor to reclaiming your normal neck curve, or helping it to not straighten in the first place, is that age-old advice: sit up straight! Yes, even when interacting with your smartphone. In addition, staying active and addressing pain or discomfort in your neck early instead of allowing it to linger will go a long way toward nurturing and maintaining the normal curve in your neck.
Common Symptoms of Cervical Lordosis
Cervicalgia / Neck Pain
Cervicalgia is also known as neck pain, which is an all-too-common, unpleasant pain. Read here to learn the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
We will discuss other causes for cervicalgia. What symptoms are associated with cervicalgia? How is cervicalgia diagnosed? What are the treatment options for cervicalgia?
Cervicalgia is a medical term used to describe neck pain. It is very common and affects approximately 2/3 of the population at some point in their life. Cervicalgia is the 4th major cause of disability. Risk factors include injury, prior history of neck and musculoskeletal pain, jobs that require a lot of desk work, low social support, job insecurity, physical weakness, and poor computer station setup.
Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Maybe it’s a daily issue, maybe once a week, maybe even less often, but one thing’s for sure—when a chronic headache kicks in, it can be a real pain in the neck, literally. In order to effectively address chronic headaches, you have to first determine if the pain is caused by a problem in your neck. Let’s take a look at a few neck issues that can cause headaches: Weak neck muscles – The head, on average, weighs about ten pounds, so when the neck muscles are weak, it can make your head feel a bit like a bowling ball that your neck can’t quite balance. There are many muscles that, along with the cervical spine, work together to help support the neck and aid movement…
Conventional wisdom states that stiff neck symptoms can be treatable with nonsurgical remedies. However, not all stiff neck symptoms are benign, and leaving the stiff neck untreated can lead to a limited range of motion that can affect your overall health and quality of life. A stiff neck can cause pain, tightness, popping, and clicking noises and sensations and affect daily activities. A detailed examination of stiff neck symptoms can determine the exact condition affecting the stiffness of one’s neck. Where does the neck hurt? Neck stiffness can occur at the base of the head, down to the shoulders. This can be associated with pain, crunching noises, or popping sensations and may…
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in Interventional Orthopedics and the clinical use of bone marrow concentrate in orthopedics. He is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with a subspecialty of pain medicine through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Centeno is one of the few physicians in the world with extensive experience in the culture expansion of and clinical use of adult bone marrow concentrate to treat orthopedic injuries. His clinic incorporates a variety of revolutionary pain management techniques to bring its broad patient base relief and results. Dr. Centeno treats patients from all over the US who…
My passion and specialization are in the evaluation and treatment of cervical disc, facet, ligament and nerve pain, including the non-surgical treatment of Craniocervical instability (CCI). I quit a successful career in anesthesia and traditional pain management to pursue and advance the use of PRP and bone marrow concentrate for common orthopedic conditions. I have been a patient with severe pain and know firsthand the limitations of traditional orthopedic surgery. I am a co-founder of the Centeno-Schultz Clinic which was established in 2005. Being active is a central part of my life as I enjoy time skiing, biking, hiking, sailing with my family and 9 grandchildren.
Dr. Pitts is originally from Chicago, IL but is a medical graduate of Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, TN. After Vanderbilt, he completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The focus of PM&R is the restoration of function and quality of life. In residency, he gained much experience in musculoskeletal medicine, rehabilitation, spine, and sports medicine along with some regenerative medicine. He also gained significant experience in fluoroscopically guided spinal procedures and peripheral injections. However, Dr. Pitts wanted to broaden his skills and treatment options beyond the current typical standards of care.
Post-residency, Dr. Markle was selected to the Interventional Orthopedic Fellowship program at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic. During his fellowship, he gained significant experience in the new field of Interventional Orthopedics and regenerative medicine, honing his skills in advanced injection techniques into the spine and joints treating patients with autologous, bone marrow concentrate and platelet solutions. Dr. Markle then accepted a full-time attending physician position at the Centeno-Schultz Clinic, where he both treats patients and trains Interventional Orthopedics fellows. Dr. Markle is an active member of the Interventional Orthopedic Foundation and serves as a course instructor, where he trains physicians from around the world.
Doctor Hyzy is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Physiatry) and fellowship-trained in Interventional Orthopedics and Spine. Dr. Hyzy is also clinical faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; In addition, Dr. Hyzy is an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at The Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Hyzy also maintains an active hospital-based practice at Swedish Medical Center and Sky Ridge Medical Center. He is also recognized and qualified as an expert physician witness for medical-legal cases and Life Care Planning. He is published in the use of autologous solutions including…
Dr. Money is an Indiana native who now proudly calls Colorado home. He attended medical school at Kansas City University and then returned to Indiana to complete a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency program at Indiana University, where he was trained on non-surgical methods to improve health and function as well as rehabilitative care following trauma, stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. Dr. Money has been following the ideology behind Centeno-Schultz Clinic and Regenexx since he was in medical school, as he believed there had to be a better way to care for patients than the status quo. The human body has incredible healing capabilities…
Dr. Mairin Jerome is a physiatrist with subspecialty fellowship training in Interventional Orthopedics and Regenerative Medicine. This subspecialty serves to fill the gap for patients who are interested in therapeutic options that lie between conservative treatment and surgery. Dr. Jerome uses regenerative medicine techniques, including prolotherapy and orthobiologics, via X-ray or ultrasound guidance to precisely deliver injections to areas of musculoskeletal injury or degeneration. Orthobiologics refers to tissue harvested typically from a person’s own body, such as platelets (platelet-rich plasma, PRP) or bone marrow, for use in treating painful musculoskeletal conditions. The goal is to stimulate the body’s healing mechanisms to improve pain, function, and decrease inflammation.
The Spine Owner’s Manual: How to Avoid Back Pain & Life-Altering Surgery
This e-book from Dr. Chris Centeno focuses on the spine and how it functions within the human musculoskeletal system and the body as a whole. Everything in our bodies works together like a well-tuned symphony to support our well-being, and a strong spine (including all of its component parts, such as spinal nerves, ligaments, muscles, etc.) is critical to complete health.
Using the Regenexx SANS approach, The Spine Owner’s Manual provides a series of tests and clearly defined exercises that you can do on your own to measure and monitor your own spinal health. These musculoskeletal tests will allow you to monitor where your own body might be struggling to maintain proper stability, articulation, symmetry, and neuromuscular function.
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