The cervical spine is C shaped, with its curve facing towards the rear of neck. The upper part of the spine in the neck is called the cervical spine and it’s composed of 7 cervical vertebra. A healthy cervical spine has a lordotic curve and it is anatomically important to bear the head’s weight.
Reduction of cervical lordosis can result in straightening of the cervical spine or in severe cases it may reverse the curve. The condition is also known as kyphosis. Loss of cervical lordosis may lead to stiffness and pain in the neck. It may also lead to referred pain in the hand, vertigo and many other symptoms.
Improper posture and muscular spasm are two important causes for reduction of cervical curvature. The problem is usually detected on X-rays of the cervical spine and it should be treated soon to prevent further deterioration and complications in the future.
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Loss of cervical curvature usually occurs in adults. Children suffer from this issue as well although it is rare. Both women and men are equally affected. The condition is associated with long standing spasms of muscles in the neck.
Poor neck posture is often the only cause in young individuals. Working on a computer for long periods or doing desk work for long time without taking break can strain the muscles of the neck. The muscles cause a pull on the cervical vertebra. Prolonged pull will automatically disturb the normal alignment of the cervical spine. Injury to cervical spine may also lead to loss of cervical lordosis. A whiplash injury from automobile accident trauma on the neck can contribute to muscle strain and loss of curvature of the cervical spine.
Osteoporosis is another important factor that might cause abnormality in cervical spine curvature. It is mostly seen among elderly individuals. In osteoporosis the bone density of the vertebrae is lost. The weight of normal wear and tear may put pressure on the spine. Obesity and hereditary skeletal disorders, such as achondroplacia, can also change the curvature of the spine. Other less common causes of loss of cervical lordosis include tumor of cervical spine, systemic disease such as ankylosing spondylitis etc.. Radiotherapy for cancer between can also cause loss of spine curvature.
Loss of cervical lordosis involves an ongoing gradual procedure. It is a phenomenon. In its start phase the condition remains silent. This means there are no symptoms. And it’s detected accidentally on X-ray meant for some other purpose. After months or years, the individual may present complaints such as pain and stiffness in the neck.
A normal cervical lordosis has a 30 to 40 degree curve. Once the curve gets lesser than 20 degrees, the patient may complain about neck pain. It may lead to tingling in hands and fingers and may lead to cervical disc degeneration. These symptoms aren’t exactly those from compression of cervical vertebra, but because of pinched nerve because of loss of lordosis.
Loss of cervical lordosis also results in tension in the spinal cord and carotid blood vessels which supply blood to the head. Improper blood flow in the brain can result in dizziness, headaches, confusion, tinnitus etc..
Loss of cervical lordosis may be detected on physical examination from diagnostic tests such as X-ray and MRI of the cervical spine. These evaluations are important to know the magnitude of loss of lordosis and nerve damage.
Medical treatment is only required when pain and stiffness are present. Muscle relaxants and pain killers will help to reduce spasms and pain of neck muscles. This increase the variety of motion of neck and will alleviate the distress.
Once first acute symptoms are relieved patient should start physiotherapy exercises aimed at strengthening the neck muscles and improvement of posture. A simple neck exercise is to bend the head forward and backward. Second exercise is to turn the neck and head sideways five to six times in a day. Severe case of loss of cervical lordosis may require the individual to wear a neck brace during day time and support pillows while sleeping. Both will help to restore the altered curvature of the spine.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Whiplash, among other automobile accident injuries, are frequently reported by victims of an auto collision, regardless of the severity and grade of the accident. The sheer force of an impact can cause damage or injury to the cervical spine, as well as to the rest of the spine. Whiplash is generally the result of an abrupt, back-and-forth jolt of the head and neck in any direction. Fortunately, a variety of treatments are available to treat automobile accident injuries.