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The Importance of the Cervical Curve


Patients are shocked when they hear that their spine should not be straight! Nine times out of ten this information is received with dubious looks, furrowed brows, and exclamations of surprise. But it’s true: our spine is not meant to be straight. In fact, there are four natural curves in the body’s spine.  

Imagine an x-ray picture taken of the neck from the front (like you stand for a photo at the DMV): from this angle, the neck should look completely straight. But from a side x-ray, the neck should show a 45 degree curvature. Shocking to most, but true!

The cervical curve in the neck should be a loose “C” shape. In the neck spine are seven vertebrae (bones), with cervical spine nerves between each bone. The cervical spine also surrounds and protects the spinal cord. Finally, the neck spine also holds up and supports our head! Neighboring the neck spine are numerous muscles, ligaments, and tendons that ensure fluid mobility and flexibility of the neck and head.

With a normal cervical curvature, the neck’s soft tissues remain pliable, the brain is able to easily transmit messages from the spinal cord to the body, and overall spine health is maintained (discs remain in place, vertebrae are not compromised, etc.).

There are conditions in which the natural curvature of the neck is jeopardized: traumatic injuries, poor posture, infection, and congenital conditions. As the neck straightens, patients experience a wide-range of painful symptoms. Patients whose cervical curve has straightened are at risk for disc herniations, stressed or damaged soft tissues, arthritis, spinal stenosis, and/or osteoporosis.

To maintain a healthy spine, patients must retain the natural curvature in the neck. Physical medicine practices help guarantee a patient’s soft, connective tissues and vertebrae are healthy. Routine chiropractic adjustments and massage therapy are good defenses against spinal straightening.

For patients whose spine has already begun straightening, our clinic provides a number of physical medicine techniques to help you counteract the damage of a straightened spine, and to work toward over health of your spine. After a thorough evaluation (which often includes diagnostic testing), our professionals might suggest physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and/or spinal decompression therapy. We will work with you to develop a program that works best for you.

If you are currently experiencing neck pain, or would like to consult with a physical medicine professional to guarantee you maintain a healthy cervical curvature, contact our office today for a FREE consultation.

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