If you were looking for a review of the romantic comedy or hoping for some baseball talk you will be disappointed if you continue to read this post. But if you stop reading then you definitely will miss an important topic that pertains to you and your family’s health. The curve I’m talking about is the curve in your neck.
When it comes to being healthy we look to be in a certain range. Eye sight, heart rate, blood work and even our weight need to be in a certain range to be considered healthy. It is no different when it comes to spinal alignment. Moving outside the healthy range, no matter what we are talking about, has consequences.
If there is a structural shift in the cervical (neck) region of the spine a person can experience a wide range of secondary conditions (symptoms). For example, when your head shifts too far forward then you have Anterior Head Syndrome.
When the curve of the neck is no longer in a healthy alignment most people experience pain, muscle tension and abnormal movement in the neck. Unfortunately you can have a shift in the spine and not have pain or any other sensation. There are changes that we don’t always “feel.”
Potential health issues
Abnormal disk degeneration: A study of 497 symptom-free individuals found that those with a non-lordotic curve had an advanced progression of degenerative changes in the bones and disks of the neck. Progression of disk protrusion (bulging disk) was also seen in in the non-lordotic spines. What this study showed is that pain is not a good indicator to determine if one is healthy.[LINK]
Spinal cord compression: The most common shape the neck takes after it shifts from normal is a kyphosis, or a reversed curve. Other times the neck could take an “s” shape. When this happens the spinal cord can become compressed. Compression of the spinal cord can lead to many neurological disorders besides pain.[LINK]
Decreased vertebral artery hemodynamics: This study revealed a significant association between loss of cervical lordosis and decreased blood flow to the brain.[LINK]
In the majority of these cases the individual has hyperkyphosis, commonly known as Dowager’s Hump. Which is better known by its street name, The Granny Hump. Studies show that this type of structure does carry a higher mortality rate, due to heart disease and possibly lung disease like COPD.
Protect your neck
Changes in the spine are a result of trauma. It could either be repetitive trauma each and every day. For example, someone who slouches in front of a computer all day or the laborer installing tile floors for a living. This type of micro trauma is accumulative and develops over years. The other is going to be our major trauma’s such as car accidents, falls and impact sports.
Although it is impossible to protect your neck every minute of every day there are precautions you can take to help limit the damage to your spine.
Sitting/Standing Posture: Abnormal body positions put abnormal strain on the structure which leads to damage. Structure includes: muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, spinal discs, blood vessels and nerve tissue.
Orthopedic Pillow: Sleeping on a pillow that follows orthopedic guidelines is one of the most important factors for spinal health. This type of pillow will hold your neck and head in neutrally supportive position. Here is a previous blog explaining the importance of an orthopedic pillow.
Strength Training: Using resistance bands to strengthen the neck not only helps in reducing pain, but keeping the muscles strong will prevent weakening over time due to overuse.[LINK]
Structural Chiropractic: If your structure has shifted far enough to cause symptoms (which we call secondary conditions) then a Structural Chiropractor might be able to help. As the term Structural Correction implies, our goal is to focus on the underlying cause of the condition, not on the symptom. Not all patients are a candidate for Structural Corrective care, but a thorough history and examination will help us determine if we can help.