Loss of Cervical Lordosis Posted in: Understanding Scoliosis

Our blog post, Understanding Your Spine: Cervical Lordosis, explains the importance of a good, healthy curve in your neck. We’ve received so many wonderful comments & questions that we decided to do a follow-up post to help you understand more about common diagnosis procedures, medical terms, and treatment options for a loss of cervical lordosis.

What Conditions Are Commonly Associated with a Loss of Cervical Lordosis?

It’s important to first note that there are many people who have lost the good curve in their neck, but aren’t currently experiencing any pain or symptoms at all. Not having a good curve in your neck isn’t guaranteed to cause neck pain; rather, it’s more accurate to say that it increases the chances that you will have neck pain in the future. People who have poor posture are more likely to have neck and low back pain, problems with their spinal discs, radicular symptoms (such as numbness and tingling down the arms and hands), and tension in the neck and shoulder muscles.

It also increases the vulnerability of the spine to injury. People without a good curve in their neck are more likely to suffer serious injury if they are in a car crash or experience a similar serious trauma, such as falling from a great height or being struck on the head by something heavy.

Tense and Aching Muscles

As the curve in the neck is lost, the pressure on the discs increases, along with the tension on the spinal cord. The muscles in the back of the neck and shoulders become stretched and tight, having to work harder to support the weight of the head. Imagine carrying a heavy bag of groceries out in front of you with your arms fully extended, rather than holding it close to your body. As the good curve in the neck is lost, the head moves forward, and it starts to feel heavier in the same way. The body can adapt and continue to function like this for a while, but the additional pressure takes its toll and causes your spinal discs wear out (degenerate) faster than usual.

As you lose the good curve in your neck, the first thing you might notice is tense and aching muscles in the neck and shoulders. A massage or hot pack might provide some temporary relief. Eventually, the aching returns, because the muscles are constantly under stress due to the changes in your posture and spinal alignment.

Problems with Ligaments and Spinal Discs

The longer you live with a straight or reversed curve in the neck, the more the ligaments and discs start to change shape. Ligaments and discs connect bone to bone. They play a role in preventing bones from moving too far apart and communicating the body’s position to the brain. Ligaments and discs have plasticity, meaning that if they are subjected to a constant load, they will start to deform and change shape. Muscles can stretch or contract and still return to their original shape without any permanent changes or damage. But as the ligaments and discs change shape, the amount of time and effort needed to restore the good curve increases. For this reason, it’s usually much easier to restore the cervical lordosis in a younger individual, who hasn’t lived with poor posture for years.

The discs in your spine rely upon motion to stay healthy. They are like little hard sponges, which push out waste products when squished and absorb water and nutrients when the pressure is removed.  When the shape of the neck changes, the way the segments move also changes.  The discs end up bearing more and more of the weight of the head. Some segments don’t move as much as they used to, while other segments end up moving too much, causing other problems.  The increased weight and decreased motion accelerate degeneration of the discs. When the disc has degenerated too much, in addition to becoming more vulnerable to injury, it starts to lose height and become thinner.

I Have Neck Pain or Numbness and Tingling Down My Arms and Hands. What’s Causing This?

If the spinal disc is weakened and compressed, it can start to bulge. A protrusion into the area where the nerves exit the spinal canal can cause radicular symptoms, such as numbness, tingling or burning pain down the arms or legs.

If the disc is too weak, an annular tear, a rupture in the outside of the disc, can occur. The material inside of the disc can then spill out. This is called disc herniation and is much more serious than a protruding disc. Oftentimes, surgery is the only way to treat a disc that has suffered an annular tear leading to a herniation.

My MRI or X-ray Says I Have a Loss of Cervical Lordosis or a Problem with My Intervertebral Discs.  What Does This Mean for Me?

It’s possible to have a bulging disc (or even a herniated disc) that doesn’t cause any pain. In this case, the protruding or herniating material has probably gone in a direction that doesn’t irritate any nerves. However, the integrity, strength, and function of the disc are still reduced. This can lead to problems with the discs above and below that area as the increased stresses start to wear them down as well. Simply put, if an MRI shows that there is an issue with one or more of your spinal discs, you shouldn’t ignore it just because it isn’t causing any pain.

What Can I Do to Prevent or Treat a Loss of Cervical Lordosis?

There are a variety of ways to prevent the loss of cervical lordosis in both children and adults.

Stop Looking Down at Screens

“Tech neck” or “text neck” is an informal term used to describe the damage that happens to your posture and spine when you spend long periods of time looking down at a computer or phone screen. When the head bends forward, it feels heavier. (In physics, this is called a moment arm.) According to research, bending the head forward by as little as 15 degrees more than doubles the apparent weight of the head, making the muscles work twice as hard. Bending the head forward 45 degrees (as most people do when they are checking their phone) increases the weight of the head by about four times as much!

The solution here is simple. Lift your phone to the level of your eyes, rather than bending your head down to look at it. When working at a computer, position the bottom of the monitor at eye level or higher. If you work on a laptop, you could invest in a wireless keyboard or connect a second computer monitor to keep yourself from looking down.  It’s also very important to take periodic breaks to stretch, get up and move around. Our spines depend upon motion to stay healthy so sitting in a bent-forward position for a long period of time can be very harmful if it is done day after day.

Correct Poor Posture

Several studies have documented the postural changes which occur as children grow into adults. This could be related to things like sitting in school desks for long periods of time, wearing heavy backpacks, using a smartphone, playing video games or watching TV. People with postural abnormalities are more likely to have pain, and it’s helpful to teach children about the importance of good posture early on. The longer it goes on, the harder it can be to rehabilitate and change those negative patterns.

Many medical doctors are not trained to recognize the problems that poor posture can cause, nor how to treat it (or even that it needs to be treated). For the most part, poor posture is not something that can be treated effectively by drugs. Painkillers and muscle relaxants might reduce the symptoms, but they won’t fix the cause of the pain or muscle tension. And most spine surgeries involve fusing the spine, not restoring normal motion and function. However, as researchers continue to document more and more evidence regarding the association between poor posture, pain and health-related quality of life, some surgeons are beginning to recognize the importance of the spine’s alignment when performing spinal surgeries.

Physical therapy and traditional chiropractic can sometimes help with poor posture. It’s worth the time and effort to seek out a practitioner who recognizes the importance of good posture and has undergone specialized training in how to treat it effectively. Some techniques are more effective than others when it comes to improving posture and spinal alignment. So if you feel one technique isn’t working, don’t give up on chiropractic or physical therapy altogether. Many of the patients we help tell us they tried chiropractic or physical therapy before without significant results.

The best treatment method for restoring the cervical lordosis and treating “text neck” is a corrective care chiropractic technique, such as CLEAR, CBP, or Pettibon. Chiropractors who specialize in structural corrective care take x-rays to measure the alignment of the spine and utilize specialized methods to achieve results. They’ll then follow up with additional x-rays and/or posture pictures to demonstrate that a correction was achieved. There is no substitute for results!

Do you think you may be suffering from a loss of cervical lordosis? What questions do you have for us? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

19 comments on “Understanding Your Spine: Loss of Cervical Lordosis”

  1. 1
    Phyllis Jean Lloyd on June 4, 2018

    I am a middle aged woman, I have had scoliosis for some time . I also have thyroid problems. I have read a lot of the comments listed ,I would like to ask if low back pain, with pain in my groins,sometimes catches .I feel this affects my balance,and my legs hurt a lot after grocery shopping. Its hard to lift my legs into the car.I don’t trust my legs and dancing was a favorite thing for me to do Can you suggest something to get any of this back?

    1. 2
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 6, 2018

      Chiropractic care can often help many patients with low back pain, hip pain, and/or pelvic pain. CLEAR’s network of certified doctors represents the largest network of chiropractors specializing in scoliosis and how it affects the body. There is hope for healing – contact a CLEAR doctor today to schedule a phone or in-person consultation! If there is not a doctor near you, please visit our blog to learn more about your options.

  2. 3
    Kristen on July 2, 2018

    I have loss of cervical lordosis, osteoarthritis and herniated disks in my neck. I also have had my sternum opened up and wired shut. This was 2 years ago and I still don’t feel like my sternum is completely healed at times. I am not sure a Chiropractor is the right move for me. What are your thoughts?

    1. 4
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 5, 2018

      There are many different types of chiropractic treatments and therapies, and a skilled chiropractor will perform a detailed & thorough physical examination, as well as take x-rays, to identify any areas that should be treated, as well as those areas which should not. Typically, you will know if a particular chiropractor is the right choice for you after about 6 to 12 visits. If you don’t experience any improvements in that time, it might be a good idea to consider visiting a different chiropractor’s office. Don’t give up on chiropractic altogether; many people make the mistake of thinking that “I tried chiropractic, and it didn’t work for me.” That’s like taking an aspirin for a stomachache and when it doesn’t work, saying, “I tried medicine, and it didn’t work for me.” There are different forms of chiropractic, and not all of them are equally effective for the treatment of every condition. Personally, I prefer chiropractors who specialize in some type of corrective care technique, such as CLEAR, CBP, or Pettibon. These techniques use advanced systems of x-ray analysis to objectively determine the prescribed treatment & exercises, and to judge the effectiveness of care. Not going to a chiropractor at all is very risky; when a joint in your body becomes restricted, it can have far-reaching consequences upon your health. Movement is essential for life; it is how many tissues in our body stay healthy. The body may adapt to the dysfunction and the pain may come and go, but the joints, muscles, nerves, ligaments, discs, and tendons will all wear out faster and your long-term function & quality of life can become impaired as a result. I would recommend visiting three or four different chiropractors in your area, learn more about the techniques they use and their philosophy of health, and select the one that resonates with you. Finding the right chiropractor and committing to ongoing chiropractic care can potentially be one of the best decisions of your life!

  3. 5
    Sakil Rai on July 16, 2018

    May daughter aged 31 yrs is having a loss of cervical lordosis and high uric acid count 7.6 mgdl. What should be the treatment for her.

    1. 6
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 17, 2018

      Hello,
      I am afraid I cannot provide medical advice over the Internet. I would recommend that you consult with a healthcare professional who can review your daughter’s x-rays and lab results, as well as her medical history, and perform an in-person examination. With this information, they will be able to recommend possible treatment options.

  4. 7
    Mark Yuan on July 18, 2018

    Dear Dr Josh Woggon,

    Could you please recommend a specialist in Sydney, Australia to treat my ‘loss of normal cervical lordosis’ condition?

    Thank you

    1. 8
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 23, 2018

      I would recommend a chiropractor specializing in CBP (Chiropractic BioPhysics, http://www.idealspine.com) or Pettibon Spinal Biomechanics. Ideally, you will want to seek treatment at a chiropractic office which utilizes pre- and post-treatment x-rays to measure & objectively demonstrate the effectiveness of care.

      Fortunately, there are many great doctors in Sydney, including Dr. Jeb McAviney, the developer of the ScoliBrace and the lead instructor for CBP’s work with scoliosis. You could also reach out to Dr. Daniel Dahdah of St. Jude’s Clinic, who is a former CLEAR Certified doctor with a creative & innovative approach to spinal rehab.

  5. 9
    shubham on July 20, 2018

    I’m not sure but definitely it feels neck is not connected with rest of the body forward head and tight muscles around shoulder and neck and have shoulder not in relaxed position. i believe causing winging of scapula on right side .
    poor posture. and mild S curve scoliosis
    i think i have to go through hardship for next 2-3 years (as in my country INDIA we don’t have chiropractor)

  6. 10
    Teenu jose on August 23, 2018

    I’m 21 years old. Today got my MRI report saying cervical lordosis straightened. I’m having severe neck and shoulder pain since 2 months. Is it a serious problem? If so what are the treatment methods?

    1. 11
      CLEAR on August 23, 2018

      Thank you for reaching out. Loss of cervical curve or lordosis can become a serious problem. Obviously you are experiencing some of the issues currently with the neck and shoulder pain. It also puts you at higher risk of disc herniation and increased rate of spinal degeneration. The treatment methods the CLEAR doctors use are highly focused on restoring the curves of the spine. We use both equipment in the office as well as at home rehabilitation to address this issue. I would suggest seeking treatment sooner rather than later before these more serious issues happen. If you would like, we can direct you to a CLEAR doctor closest to you. Please let me know how we can help. Best of luck.

  7. 12
    Betty Godwin on August 28, 2018

    Pls I just had an X-ray which result reads: There is straightening of cervical spine likely due to muscle spasm.
    Bone density, alignment, end plates, intervertebral disc spaces and posterior elements are within normal limits.
    Prevertebral soft tissue is normal.

    Pls what could this imply and is it treatable?

    1. 13
      CLEAR on August 28, 2018

      Thank you for reaching out, Betty. Whomever took the X-ray should have explained to you what that verbiage means. I would contact them to have them discuss that with you. Straightening of the cervical spine means that you have lost the good curve or the lordosis of the cervical spine. As far as it being caused by muscle spasms, I don’t know if you were in a car accident or something that would have caused the muscles to be in spasm. It does not mean that you have scoliosis. If you are looking to address the loss of curve in the neck, our doctors do specialize in curve restoration. You can find the closest doctor near you on our website. Please let me know if we can be of further assistance. Best of luck.

  8. 14
    Siti on August 30, 2018

    Please, i just had an xray which result reads:
    C1-C7 are visualised. Loss of cervical lordosis. The height of the vetebral bodies and dics spaces are normal. No evidence of lytic or sclerotic lesion. No evidence of fracture line in the anterior and posterior elements. Normal anterior prevetebral soft tissues. No evidence of acute bone injury/bone destruction/bony outgrowth/erosive arthropathy.
    The pain I feel starts from the neck, down to my shoulder, breasts and behind my back (right sides. Is that normal?

    1. 15
      CLEAR on September 5, 2018

      Thank you for your question. I would like to start by stating that this interaction does not constitute an evaluation and or a diagnosis or recommendation. You should find a qualified practitioner to evaluate you, and one is easily found on our website. Yes, these findings as listed on your X-ray impressions can be associated with the pain/symptoms that you are describing and are usually improved and corrected with treatment. At this point, as it sounds you are uncomfortable due to the symptoms, our best recommendation is to immediately contact the closest doctor to your location, found here, and set up a consultation.

  9. 16
    Cher Simone on September 11, 2018

    MRI and xray showed loss of lordosis in neck and a mild disc bulge in c4_5 with indentation in sac however no nerves compression. I’m now having headaches, pain in neck and spine etc.

    1. 17
      CLEAR on September 12, 2018

      Thank you for reaching out. I can understand how that would be causing the headaches and pain you have been having. A loss of curve in the neck can absolutely create those issues and it is important to do something to address this problem before it becomes any worse. Our CLEAR doctors specialize in curve restoration and have gone through extensive training on how to correct and minimize these issues to help patients get rid of pain. Most chiropractors are not trained on how to restore curvatures of the neck and results would be limited without seeming a doctor who has experience with this. If you are interested in received care by one of our CLEAR doctors, you can find the closest doctor near you by putting in your zip code here. Please let me know if we can be of further assistance. Best of luck with your future health.

  10. 18
    Becca on September 15, 2018

    I have a right thoracic curve (fused) and have been pretty fit overall. Unfortunately now I have a pinched nerve– i drive a lot and it caused a forward head posture, as well as using the laptop at work. All of a sudden I noticed numbness/tingling in my right index finger. I did a left side neck stretch and a forward one and it went away for one day. But then it came back and never left. Then my right shoulder (which is usually lower than my left) elevated and became tight all of a sudden. I lifted something and then I had bad radicular pain shooting down my arm for 3 days. I alleviated pain with right pec stretch and shoulder retraction; however, use of the arm would cause my nerve to flare at times. The xray showed reversed lordosis and minimal osteophytes C5-C7 with mild disc degeneration a C6. I have been resting for a month, doing stretches to improve my posture. Chin tucks/shoulder retraction used to feel tight, but now I can do them without pain. Also, my nerve is less easily flared although the mild hand and tricep weakness is still present. I have mild spasms my right shoulder and hips at times. I tried PT; however, everything just seem to flare up my nerve and I was told I need to just rest and heal. When I do certain stretches, my entire hand would feel tingling and now I’m wondering if I also have thoracic outlet syndrome. No sure what to do or what is causing all the symptoms. I’m concerned everything will get worse as I age. Any advice will be helpful.

    1. 19
      CLEAR on September 20, 2018

      Thank you for reaching out. From the way you are explaining your issues, it would suggest the reverse lordosis is the main cause. Stretches, rest, etc., will potentially calm it down; however, without correcting the cause of the problem, these symptoms will continue to persist. Our CLEAR doctors are trained in curve correction and use both specialized equipment as well as specific at-home exercises tailored to each individual patient to address these types of problems. It is not something that you are able to do alone, unfortunately. If you would like to consult with one of our CLEAR doctors the website will direct you to the closest doctor to you, here. Please let me know if we can be of further assistance. Good luck with your health.

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