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Our spine is a structural unit and has 4 curves. Loss of the structural integrity or the normal function of the spine is what causes vertebral subluxations.  When our normal motion of the spine is impaired there are stresses that occur in the facets, discs and supporting tissues.  A Chiropractic Doctor’s job is to locate the specific segments which are subluxated, as well as providing the means to “free” those segments.

Development of the thoracic and sacral (pelvic) curves occur in the fetus.  At around 6 months of age the cervical curve appears which helps hold the head up.  Approximately one year of age the lumbar curve develops which helps with balance and walking.

0012_1All the cervical structures must be strong in order to maintain a normal curve in the neck. We also need a healthy vertebrae if we want to support our necks (and head).  Gravity pulls the head down, we need strong connective tissues to help resist the weight of our heads.  Add to all this we need healthy muscles, especially in the back of the neck in order to resist the weight of the head as it falls forward.

Cervical kyphosis is a condition where the normal curve of the neck begins to straighten.  It can actually progress to the point where the curve in the neck can actually go in the opposite direction from normal.  You may not always have pain associated with this reversed curve, until it gets more obvious (curves at 20 degrees or less).

Some causes of Cervical Kyphosis can be:

  • congenital diseases and conditions (inherited)
  • traumatic injuries such as compression fracture, whiplash or iatrogenic injury
  • wear and tear of degenerative disks, overtime this causes the position of the head to move forward
  • poor posture when working in front of a computer or reading
  • Infections
  • Diseases such as osteoporosis

An x-ray will show if there is any loss of the normal curve of the neck.  It may also show disk degeneration, stenosis, presence of arthritis and other problems.

Changing your daily habits that allows you to support these curves and doing corrective exercises can help reduce a forward neck posture and reduce pain.

Some suggestions are:

Therapeutic Neck Rotations

Taking time to stretch the muscles that can be restricted while typing at a computer.  While sitting in your chair, sit tall.  Keep your chest up and flatten the shoulder blades on your back, collarbones wide.  Draw the lower abdominal muscles in as you rotate your head to the right a few times, then do the same for the left.

Corrective Neck Exercises

With arms out straight ahead pretend to hold a steering wheel.  Keeping your chest forward begin to rotate your head as far as possible to the right.  Try to look over your right shoulder, then pause before doing the same thing again on the left side.  Repeat for 10 rounds.

Gentle Neck Traction Exercises

With shoulders back, blades pinned on the back begin to lower your chin towards your chest, then lift it back to neutral and turn your head to the right.  Return to the centre and lower the chin again, then lift it back to neutral this time turning to the left.  Repeat 10 rounds (each side).

If you work at a desk for any prolonged amount of time it would be good to have it set up properly.  For ideas see here:

http://www.wikihow.com/Set-Up-an-Ergonomically-Correct-Workstation

A healthy cervical curve is vital to proper spinal motion.  If the curve is unhealthy your entire spine will begin to bend, twist and adapt in a variety of ways in order to compensate for your necks misalignment.  If it stays uncorrected, the spine cannot function optimally.  This can lead to degenerative wear and tear to the skeletal structure and leaves a person heading towards a life of chronic pain and possibly surgery.

It is always a good idea to meet with a chiropractor for check-ups to evaluate your spinal health.  Do not wait until you are in pain to take care of your health, be proactive and find ways to live healthy.

References:

neckandback.about.com
livestrong.com