Monday, January 25, 2010

Cervical Kyphosis - Loss or Reversal of Neck Curvature

Most commonly known as a “military neck” a straight or forward curve of the neck is abnormal and may cause an unkind progression of symptoms leading ultimately to cervical disk degeneration.

A healthy neck manifests a normal lordotic curvature as portrayed in the picture to the right. The pathology leading to a neck curve reversal (cervical kyphosis shown below right) may be inspired by a multitude of conditions as follows:
  • Post whiplash
  • Post head injury
  • Stomach sleeping
  • Poor sitting/working postures
  • Congenital spinal curvatures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Degenerative cervical discs (a form of osteoarthritis that can either be the cause of or the result of a cervical kyphosis)
  • Compression fracture of vertebral body
  • Infection of the cervical spine


“I’ve always heard that it was good to stand up straight.”

“Stand upright, stick your chest out and hold your shoulders back! Otherwise you’re going get widows hump.”

Are these expressions as familiar to you as they are to me? One might think that having a curved neck goes against what we heard from parents and teachers as we were growing up, but the reality is that there is a little bit a truth in both. Maintaining good posture throughout our lives is crucial to both the health of our spine and vital organs. On the contrary, a special type of curve called a “lordosis” is a good thing, both in the neck and lower back.

When we look at a person from the back their spine should be truly straight, so that the left and right sides of one’s body is symmetrical. However, when we view a person from the side, the front and back of their body is different and this is reflected in a coinciding curvature of the spine. Both the lower back and neck are hollowed out (concave) and the mid or “thoracic” spine is protrudes (convex). Thus there is an alternation of curves functioning to provide stability, shock absorption and aid in propulsion. A straight spine would be very stiff and not flexible. Imagine the plight of a pole vaulter with an inflexible pole.

Nature’s design of our spine and rib cage facilitates breathing and offers protective and supportive framework for vital organs. Spinal disks are shock absorbers and because they are in the front of the spine, lordotic curvatures keep them from having to bear weight. Kyphosis or loss of such curvatures bears weight upon the disks, leading to their ultimate degeneration. This process of deterioration is a form of osteoarthritis and in the spine is known as degenerative spondylosis.

Although most chiropractors or conservative orthopedists can recognize a cervical curve reversal upon viewing the patient’s posture, a definitive diagnosis may be obtained via a standing lateral (side view) X-ray of the neck. Cause can often be determined by corroborating a comprehensive history, a thorough examination, X-rays and questions about sleep, work and lifestyle.

In my professional career as a chiropractic physician, I found that the majority of young adults presenting with cervical kyphosis either had a whiplash or were stomach sleepers from an early age. For desk jockeys 40-60 years of age, many hours of sitting with their head flexed forward almost dictates the fate of developing kyphosis. In prior years I considered cervical kyphosis a job hazard for the careers of accountants, attorneys and often teachers because of years spent with their head in a book or paperwork. However, the digital age offers some relief in that respect. A well-planned, ergonomically-friendly office can do wonders for protecting the spine in the sedentary worker.

During my chiropractic practice I had the opportunity to note a good percentage of correction toward a more normal lordosis (noted on X-ray) for 70% of patients under my care. This was almost always consistent with those patients that followed all recommendations and were model participants in their own care. Here is the recommended treat plan:

  1. Spinal manipulation of stiff and fixated spinal segments by a qualified physician
  2. Flexibility exercises for flexion and extension of cervical spine
  3. Resistance exercises for flexors and extensors of the neck
  4. Learn the Alexander Technique for maintaining good posture (HINT: the basic philosophy is to sit and stand like you were hanging by a string from the vertex of your skull. Liken it to a puppet on a string).
  5. Elimination of stomach sleeping
  6. Avoid standing on your head, although some yoga postures may be beneficial
  7. Use of orthopedic neck pillow while sleeping
  8. Establish and ergonomic friendly work environment while working at your desk
    • top of computer monitor should be at eyebrow level
    • ergonomic chair should remain in a slightly forward tilted position to facilitate an upright posture. If you do not have such a chair, try a wedge cushion with a built in forward tilt.
    • prudent use of an ergonomic footrest to balance the forward tilt of an ergonomic chair
    • elbows must be at your side during mousing, track pad or keyboard entry. DO NOT reach for these items


  1. I was wondering if you could tell me what the side effects of of this. My chiropractor says that my sumptoms sound like they would come from this.

    Thanks, Kim Roth

  2. Excellent question charlieroth21.
    What is interesting is that I apparently failed to write the symptoms when I composed this article. There are actually hundreds of common and not so common symptoms all related to a cervical curve reversal. Here is a list of the most common:

    1)frequent neck pain and tension
    2)upper neck tension and tension headaches
    3)shooting pains in the head
    4)migraine headaches
    6)pain between the shoulder blades
    7)shoulder, arm and hand pain and/or numbness

  3. How long does it usually take to treat? Can you take vicodin for the pain if alieve doesn't work?

  4. The treatment time for cervical kyphosis is highly variable and could take up to 2 years. It really depends upon the severity, cause, mode of treatment and participation of the patient. I personally do not usually recommend that anyone take pain killers for conditions that can be treated and remedied. There are safe, natural anti-inflammatory alternatives that are a much more sensible approach. You should ask your health care provider to help you with such.

  5. Thank you! I have been diagnosed with cervical kyphosis and have been seeing a chiropractor for about 5 weeks. I was seeing him daily and now I am down to 3 days a week. My headaches are less frequent (not waking up with one and the pain doesn't last more than 1 hour.) The problem I am having are I have several good days then a few bad days and it is hard to tell if I am getting better. I just want the symptoms to go away. I have been taking a half of vicodin a day when I feel the pain in my head, neck, and shoulders start up. I googled Natural anti-inflammatory and one that popped up was serrpeptase. Do you know much about this? Are there any others you have had experience with? I am asking you before I call my physican b/c I want to have a few ideas to suggest to him? I really appreciate your advice.

  6. I'm not aware of Serrepeptase being used by main stream health care providers nor do I have any personal experience with such. It is an enzyme reported anecdotally to digest inflammation. However, there are several well documented supplements that do indeed work well for inflammation as follows:
    --Omega 3 Fatty Acids (fish oils)
    --curcumin (from the spice tumeric)
    --bromelain (from pineapple)

    I would suggest discussing these options with your physician. If you are taking blood thinners, it is particularly important to obtain the advise of physician prior to taking any of the above. They all thin the blood

  7. I have recently been diagnosed with a mild reversal of normal lordotic curvature in my c-spine. At what point is surgery an option for the correction of this problem? I have suffered with a "slight curvature" since I was a young child that was detected in grade school by the school nurse during routine examination. I have visited a few chiropractors over the years as I have suffered pain in my t/l-spine areas when the pain became too pronounced to ignore. At one point a tattoo artist commented that my back was "really crooked", as a result I once again visited a chiropractor for adjustments. I pride myself on what I consider good posture but is it possible that I am over emphasasing my posture and creating this ongoing issue? I have also been told that I am sway-backed, is this a contributor or a result of over-posturing??

    I've recently changed healthcare providers and don't yet have a new chiropracter. Would you recommend finding one and taking years or exploring surgical options?

  9. I took a look at the image of lateral cervical X-ray as noted in the last post. Indeed there seems to be a pronounced reversal of the cervical curve or a kyphosis. However, it would appear that this person is either young or has not had that reversal very long because there is no obvious degenerative changes that I can perceive. It is quite common to get degeneration in discs as a sequel to prolonged kyphosis. Thus, surgery would seem to be a far cry from necessary. I would recommend that you seek the services of a good chiropractor or a doctor of physical medicine known as a physiatrist (please note that this is NOT a psychiatrist, although there are spelled similarly).

  10. Hi-
    I am a 27 year old female and have been going to a chiropractor for loss of all three curves in my spine- particularly my neck, which I have been told is actually curving the wrong way (cervical kyphosis). This was due to a traumatic fall off a bicyle where I landed on my chin and only on my chin going down a hill on some pavement. I didn't seek treatment for almost a year and by then the pain was really bad. I had a pre-existing case of mild spinal stenosis and was diagnosed with sacro-illitis so this compounded and inflamed a problem that had been largly under control. I have been told that this will take about 2 years to help, and it has helped some- a lot less tingling and numbness in my arms and the headaches are less frequent- but the pain is still pretty constant, especially when I stand or sit for more than a half hour. I know it is all individual, but I do the physical therapy religiously and adhere to an anti-inflammatory diet. I use a neck pump my chiropractor gave me for my neck everyday. It seems as if I am doing it all but I am impatiently waiting a day with less hours out of pain than in pain. The Chiropractor I am going to has 16 years in practice, is trained in the Gonsted method and has helped many others, including family members and friends. I can't help feeling as if I am missing something. I don't take any medications but I do go to a naturopath that prescribed a cocktail of anti-inflammatory herbs including some of the ones mentioned above plus MSM, glucosimine, Devil's claw etc. Is it common to have this much pain for so long with this condition? Or do I just have a low tolerance for it? Thank you for your time.

  11. Dear Anonymous regarding your July 24th comment. Sounds like you are taking many of the important measures necessary for good results for the conditions you site here. However, it certainly is hard to see the whole picture from afar. What I do not see here is any mention of what kind of work you do and how that may impact whether you have success in your treatment program or not. For example, if you sit at a desk and do not have a very good adjustable ergonomic chair with a neck rest, then you likely will not get the results desired. You should discuss work habits and environment with your chiropractor and make sure those issues are addressed properly. I hope this helps provide some valuable insight.

  12. I was diagnosed with scoliosis and cervical kyphosis abt 6 mons ago. I got in a car accident last week and did not think I had any injuries- until i woke up the next morning. My neck was hurting more than ever so I went to an MD which just gave me Flexerill and Naproxen and sent me on my way. I called my chiro and he sent me for xrays and the xrays clearly show changes from the last xrays. Now my neck has no curve at all and I am still in pain, I havnt been to work since the wreck ( last weds ). How long do ppl usually need to stay out? I work customer service so I am stuck to my desk the entire time which b4 the wreck already caused me pain. Mt job is not flexible with my hours so I dont want to go in and have to leave or Ill have to redo Fmla stuff and start wait period for pay again. How long do you usually suggest to patients? My chiro just said we will see how my body reacts to treatments

  13. Regarding comment from chelseaapennell:
    Dear Chelsea,
    No one is in a position to judge your situation like your chiropractic physician since he personally evaluated your injuries. There is no set layoff time from work for injuries of this type. Everyone reacts differently, and decisions about going back to work need to be made in accordance with your response to treatment. I would suggest you request some extra time to have a more detailed discussion about this with your treating physician. Perhaps he doesn't know all of things you are trying to balance. Certainly, anxiety about such doesn't help your response to treatment.

  14. In response to Regina, who wrote the following:
    I believe that I have a slight case of kyphosis. It has been noticeable since I was in High School more than 30 years ago. Although it has not gotten too much worse, when I lost weight a couple of years ago, some of the upper-curve seemed disappear. But here lately as I've gained some of the weight back, the curve is starting to become more noticeable again. Do you think that my case due to weight gain and poor posture? And, is there any really good yoga, or pilates exercises to help rid that slight hump? Finally, is there any type of vitamins rich in helping me to strengthen my upper back muscles? Please, reply soon. Sincerely, Regina

    If weight gain is actually increasing your thoracic kyphosis that is likely due to either increase in the size of you breasts as you gain weight and/or a response to a increasing swayback from weight gain in the abdominal area. Sometimes the upper back will compensate for a lumbar swayback by increasing the kyphosis to balance the posture. Of course, as harsh as this may sound, losing the weight is the most important component of treating such. However, strengthening the core abdominal, gluteal and postural muscles can also be quite valuable. A good, balanced protocol of yoga exercises can be quite helpful, but it would have to combine strengthening and stretching exercises. Core stretching and strengthening on a foam roller and physio-gym-ball are great as well. Practicing the Alexander Postural Technique is also a wonderful therapy. I certainly would advocate the guidance of a competent instructor for each of my recommendations.

  15. Thank you for responding to my post earlier. (I am the 27 year old female with loss of spinal curvature and cervical kyphosis who posted on July 24). You asked after my job. Well, I am a goldsmith- which means I spend the majority of my day sitting looking down, hunched over my work. I have been on a leave of absence from my job for the past 4 months and at this point, it doesn't look promising that I can return to that type of work anytime soon. With the small amount of progress I have made so far, I am worried that going back to work will negate everything I have accomplished. If and when I do feel better am I better off finding another type of work,or is it possible to heal completely from an injury of this nature and go back to "normal" life? I love my work, but I could learn to love something else if this will only tempt fate. Just so you are aware, I have an ergonomic chair and have done my best in the past to keep good posture and keep work at eye level, but the nature of the job makes this near to impossible. Your thoughts please, when you have time.

  16. There are many different causes of neck pain and back pain, but there aren't very many causes of neck pain and back Pain that are difficult to define. Please read further to find out the hidden cause of neck pain and back pain.Health News.Thanks a lot for sharing this.

  17. To the lady who works as a goldsmith. Sorry, I have not written sooner. For some reason, I never saw your 2nd response. However, you can indeed work as a goldsmith if you have the right ergonomic chair and associated work surface along with special ergonomic chair arms. If you want to set this environment up, I'd be glad to walk you through the proper chair order. I have done this for other jewelers.

  18. I got into a car accident a few months back and I am having fits of headache and shoulder pains. I suspect it must have been the whiplash. So I went to a Chiropractic Brooklyn Center, MN clinic to have it checked. I'm undergoing treatments as of today. But with my current job as an encoder, I don't know how long would it take for it to heal.

    You have said something about ergonomic chairs in your reply to the lady who works as a goldsmith... what exactly is an ergonomic chair? I think I would need one as well.

  19. For Bernice:
    Certainly, headaches and shoulder pain are very common symptoms to experience after a whiplash type of accident. I'm not sure of the severity of your whiplash, but symptoms should be the first thing to subside during your treatment plan. Complete rehabilitation can take much longer than eradication of symptoms. Generally, a treatment plan for whiplash could last anywhere from 1 to 6 months depending on severity. Part of any good treatment plan is evaluation of the impact that a person's work might have on recovery. Any kind of computer input can be exacerbating to conditions relating to neck, shoulder arm and hand. It is good protocol to always make sure that the total work environment is adapted with proper ergonomic protocol. An ergonomic chair is definitely a basic component. To answer your question about what an ergonomic chair is, let me first define ergonomics as follows: "Ergonomic literally means "saving work" just like economic means "saving money". More specifically, when we talk ergonomics we mean to engineer the working environment for maximum productivity with as little stress to the body as possible. An ergonomic chair should be a superbly comfortable chair that is highly adjustable to both maximize user comfort while posturing the user at their work surface in a manner that removes stress on the eyes, neck, spine, arm, shoulder, hands and legs. The top of the monitor should be at eye level. The monitor should be approximately arms length away. All input devices should be able to be operated without taking the elbow away from the side of the user's rib cage. Additionally, the chair should tilt forward bringing the user in an good position relative to the work space such that one doesn't have to slide forward or lean away from the back support built into the chair. The best ergonomic chair known in today's market is the bodybilt chair. You can view those here: Bodybilt Chairs

  20. Hello i have a fused neck c5-6 and its been about 12 years.i have gone tp physical therapy on 2 other occasions had my neck re-mri with no remarkable changes.i'm having neck spasms on one side and sever pain in the middle of my shoulders at the top....also i'm awake is the worst all night need sleep.i toss and turn my neck hurts i dont know what to do.i try making a neck roll which doesnt work i chase it around all night very tired.....thanks shellie

  21. Dear Shellie,
    Re: your nightly neck spasms and mid-line pain between the shoulders after fused C5/C6. Speaking in generalities you most definitely need the right orthopedic support pillow to support the natural neck curve while lying on your back and to keep your neck in line with your spine when side sleeping. However, it must be used in combination with mattress that conforms and adapts to the shape of your body like memory foam, latex foam or an air bed. I would combine that with an orthopedic shaped memory foam pillow like Nimblepedic or Tempurpedic. The reason you need the right mattress as well is because your shoulder must be absorbed into the mattress to get the right support in the pillow.

    Additionally, given that C5/C6 is fused, it is quite likely that you have a cervical kyphosis followed by a compensatory hyper-extension of vertebral segments in between the shoulders. This would explain your mid-line pain. It would require a chiropractor to help resolve that situation. I hope this information has been helpful. Best Wishes and Be Well

  22. Thank you for your response about the correct chair/posture for my work as a goldsmith. I would really appreciate a recommendation for the proper chair. my email is- Thank you!

  23. hello. I have recently been xrayed and been found to have a straight neck. I have muscle tension under my right shoulder blade and a numbing of the face on that side that travels up under my eye. I believe the spasms are from extending my arm out to hold a computer mouse. Even thought I no longer have that profession these symptons have come and gone over the last ten years. I am not sur if the lack of curvature in the spine creates the numbing or the tension in the back is doing it. What would you recommend addressing first? Thank you.

  24. I have had heart surgery and am on blood thinner. Is it ok for chiro. to use eleco. pulse therapy on my back?

  25. Hi Anonymous with the heart surgery. It would be ill-advised for me to make recommendations about your care given your history of heart surgery and medications. In many cases it would be just fine and advisable for a heart patient to reduce stress and help balance the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system with chiropractic care. Then again, there are cases when it would not be sensible. Your cardiologist or primary physician should make that call. Alternatively, if you find a competent chiropractor, it wouldn't hurt to visit them for a consultation. A competent chiropractic physician should perform a detailed exam and practice due diligence by referring you to another practitioner, if necessary. As far as electro-therapy modalities, it would be dependent upon whether you have a pace maker or de-fibrillator implant. Electro-therapy would be contra-indicated with such. I hope this is helpful info.

  26. Almost three years ago I suffered a whiplash injury (front end collision)at the age of 37. I was diagnosed with a subluxation and I had 22 adjustments. Neck flexing and extending were nearly normal at that point. However, I continued to experience intermittent pain while walking (from jarring). My condition seemed to improve by limiting my activities according to my comfort level.
    Before the accident I had been athletically active. It was 18 months after the accident before I felt confident that I could resume athletic activities. The weeks following a pick up game of ultimate frisbee I experienced a tremendous increase in pain while walking, and frequent headaches. Also, neck flexing and extending were painful. After two rounds of PT the pain subsided when I remained inactive, though it didn't require much to aggravate my neck and I often endured painful days. I dropped out of school due to the difficulty with neck flexing. I have been unemployed since then and I remain inactive in order to limit pain.
    Twenty-eight months after the accident I took up 20 min. massage therapy treatments that has helped. It is now 34 months after the accident and I recently had a set back that came either from a very small rear-end collision which didn't seem to cause problems or an overly vigorous massage. Nine days after the rear end 'bump' and a day after visiting a new massage therapist I started to experience pain with lateral flexing and rotation. Since chiro tx was effective in that regard three years earlier, I returned for a couple more adjustments. The practitioner observed that a few of the vertebrae in the c-spine were not acting independently (cervical kyphosis?). He did an adjustment and recommended that I resume tx until the injury is healed. He sees no reason why I should not be able to resume the activities that I had been doing prior to accident.
    The treatment would come out of pocket and I am hesitant to invest $40 per visit and over an extended period of time. If I knew that I would recover to the point where I could regularly run, I would do it without much thought. I expect to be employed shortly so I will be able to squeeze by. I think that if I increase my PT exercises along with some of the above recommendations, I will see improvement in my condition.
    My questions are: given my history, how likely is it that I would see significant recovery if I choose to include chiropractic treatment? And if I choose to look for a lower rate and a chiropractor closer to home what sort of qualifications should I look for? I would be grateful for your thoughts and thank-you for reading my lengthy comment.

  27. Response to anonymous comment on Feb 22, 2011:

    Here are my answers to your questions at the end of your comments:
    1) In most all cases, chiropractic treatment is a valuable addition to an overall treatment plan. As a matter of fact, once you've experience the sort of injuries you have incurred, you should probably be seeing a chiropractor once per month on a maintenance basis always. There are some exceptions but the fact that you have been active to the level you describe probably make your case not one of them.
    2) "Qualifications" is probably not the right term for making a decision about a chiropractor. They all have the right credentials or they would not have a license. You should look for recommendations and referral from friends or family that have gotten good results. That's much better criteria for results.

    Overall, it is crucial that you go through a guided strength training program for your neck to help restore stability to the cervical spine. Your description suggests the condition is completely unstable. Coinciding with such, you should be taking supplements to support joint and cartilage health as well as sleeping on a cervical support pillow and good conforming mattress. Any computer work must be done in good ergonomic fashion. Ipads and such are a no no! Chairs that you sit in should be comfortable supportive and you should not slouch. It might even be advisable to rule out a cervical disk herniation or derangement, secondary to degeneration for curve reversal.

  28. Thank-you for your helpful response. I will look for a guided strength training program and cervical support pillow as you suggest.
    An MRI was performed 7 months after the accident and it was largely negative (mild bulging of annulus, mild straightening). Is it possible that a herniated disk can be missed due to the fact that MRI is taken while lying on my back? In other words, could it be that the image would be different if I were standing or if the cervical curve were under a load?
    Also, assuming surgery is not needed, would a herniated disk change the way I would go about treatment? Again, thank-you very much for your thoughts.

  29. Dear Anonymous,
    Whether the MRI is done lying down is not relevant to the results found. MRI are always done in such a position.

    As far as determining a course of treatment and as to whether disk involvement would change such a treatment course, I cannot answer that question. It certainly could require a different course of treatment. However, the attending physician or chiropractor will have to make that judgement call.

  30. I went to see an ortho Doc because I have extreme pain in my head ( base of skull)the pain seems to travel down the spine between my shoulder blades, I have also experianced arm and hand numbness and pain, along with bone pain in my shins. The ortho doc said that the only thing they could find was an extrem striaghtening of the cervical spine which doesn't explain all the pain I deal with everyday do you have any ideas.
    I have had MRI's of the entire spine and a nuclear bone scan the result of the MRI's were cronic end plate changes and the bone scan the uptake was very high in my ancles and patellas.

  31. To Bree:
    The symptoms you describe are concerning to me and I'm sure quite annoying to you. I would inquire about the possibility of doing an MRI of the head because of the extreme pain you describe at the base of your skull. That type of symptom can be related to neck conditions, but being that you have had extensive diagnostics related to the neck without resolution, it would seem like a logical follow-up study. The shin pain and are pain/numbness may be totally unrelated. Then again, they could be related, which in my mind could justify the follow-up MRI. Mention this to you physician and solicit his or her thoughts. If you desire a 2nd opinion I would consult a neurologist if I were you, being that you have already been to an orthopedist and do have some nerve related symptoms. Hope this helps and be well...

  32. Sir, I have had an MRI of the brian and there doesn't seem to be any reason for the pain if you go by what the Docs in joplin Mo say. I have been in extrem pain and have several nerve related symptoms for 5 years now and I have days that I start to wonder how much does one person have to deal with? If you have a doctor that you think would be helpful in these matters I would like to know. And thank you so much for your responce its the first one I have ever gotten offline.

  33. Hello again Bree,
    The good news is that having had an MRI of you head that was negative is positive because it rules out a brain tumor which was one of the possible causes I was concerned about. The bad news is that you still suffer neurological symptoms in various areas. I feel that you need to seek out a neurologist to help you narrow down the problem. The difference between a neurologist and neurosurgeon is that neurologist are almost purely diagnosticians so they should be very good at figuring out problems. The specialty of a neurosurgeon is surgery, although there are cases of neurosurgeons who are also very good diagnosticians. Ask a trusted doctor or chiropractor for referral to a neurologist in your area. Best wishes for finding a resolution.

  34. I'm 17 years old I've been diagnosed with kyphosis. My friend told me sleeping without a pillow will help is this correct?

  35. Nice Blog
    Find chiropractor and chiropractic office in Plantation FL, Weston and Sunrise for chiropractic services for headaches, low back pain Plantation, neck pain Plantation, pain relief, sports massage and massage therapy.

  36. good day sir! I'm female,24.
    I was diagnosed with cervical kyphosis and disc desiccation (c3-c4, c5-c6) last august 2010. I had taken a lot of pain relievers and muscle relaxant already and went on rehab to manage the pain but still it wont go away. Constantly I have spasms in my neck area,shoulder blades,head and forehead, even my upper back suffers from pain too. My upper cervical area feels heavy most of the time,especially my neck. The physical therapist further examined me and told me it's myofascial pain syndrome, but all the medicines just wont work. I also suffer from carpal tunnel sysndrome on my left wrist. It feels like there are pinched nerves and i can't even flex it or use it to lift heavy objects. At a times i can feel tingling sensation and numbness running down to my fingers.
    I'm confused whether it is the desiccation of my discs or the straightening of my lordosis OR BOTH that causes me pain. Please sir, i need your opinion.. thank you

  37. sir it's still me, the 24 year old girl with kyphosis and disc desiccation. Is prolonged standing (like 8-9hours) okay for a patient like me?

  38. Hi anonymous 24 year old girl with kyphosis. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to provide a response for you, but I have been out-of-pocket for a bit. Let me start by first answering your last question: "Is prolonged standing 8-9 hours O.K. for a patient like me?"
    ANSWER: Tolerance for prolonged standing with a cervical disc problem and cervical curve reversal could certainly vary from patient to patient. Additionally, your complaint is in the upper spine and standing has the greatest impact on lower back conditions. That being said, a weak spine may elicit all sorts of pain and symptomatology throughout because there is a great effort required of spinal muscles to maintain posture against the forces of gravity. The short answer is it is O.K., but it certainly may not be comfortable.

    Now, for your first (main) concern: "I'm confused whether it is the desiccation of my discs or the straightening of my lordosis OR BOTH that causes me pain."

    FEEDBACK: It certainly could be either or both, but then again it could be neither. This would require a clinical examination by an expert to determine such. Now, if I were you, I would discontinue the pain relievers and muscle relaxants. Such medication provides only temporary relief at best and, in my opinion, are really not the most appropriate meds for your diagnoses. Neuro-muscular massage and a consistent premium routine of postural strengthening exercises are the best treatment modalities. As you get stronger, you should acquire a "Core Roll" and use it regularly to self-massage muscles and increase joint mobility. As far as what you can take for such, there is nothing better than distilled water in large amounts for helping dessicated disks of the spine. Combine that with a well-balanced diet including lots of organic fruits and veggies and a natural multi-vitamin and you'll receive a lot more benefit than you will from medications. Also, limit your intake of red meat. By the way, as far as distilled H20 goes, I recommend the "Pure" brand distributed by Walgreen's because it is readily available and I've already evaluated the source of water and process by which it is distilled and bottled. Make sure it is the green label, not the blue one. Drink at least 6 bottles per day. In two of those bottles, put one teaspoon of unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar (Bragg's in the only brand like that). You can add a tsp. of either: stevia extract, locally raised honey or raw agave nectar should you need sweetener. This helps alkalize your body and slowly breaks up adhesions in joints, relieving some stiffness. It is a long process, but well worth it.

    As far as your carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, that may actually be resulting from nerve issues in your neck or sometimes, in reverse, can cause some of the neck and shoulder discomfort. This needs to be carefully determined by a skilled physical therapist, neurologist, orthopedist or chiropractor.

  39. thank you very much sir, i'll try your recommendation.. God bless you more!

    --24 yr old girl w/ kyphosis

  40. We had a previous post from Rachel T in April, that I somehow missed. She cites: "I'm 17 years old I've been diagnosed with kyphosis. My friend told me sleeping without a pillow will help is this correct?".
    FEEDBACK: actually sleeping without a poorly supportive pillow it better than sleeping with one that flexes your neck forward to much. However, the best sleep situation for this type of condition is to either use a "memory foam pillow with neck support advantage" or a "Jackson Cervical Core Roll". Both are best utilized for supine or "face up" sleeping if one is trying to help symptoms from a cervical curve reversal.

  41. Hi. I am a 32 year old female. I have been having horrible pains in the top of my head (my scalp) for the past 8 weeks. Before that pain started, I had these ice pick type headaches for two months. I am a person who really has never had any headaches at all. I also have had visual disturbances (which I originally thought was due to a pituitary problem, because I am still lactating three years post pregnancy.) Long story short, I got referred to a neurologist, who ordered a CT scan, but clearly told me these were migraines that I was having. She put me on a headache medication plus prednisone. The results from the CT of my neck said that I have a mild reversal of the lorthodic curvature. That is from the radiologist report from the imaging facility. However, when my neurologist sent me information regarding the CT, it stated that everything was Normal! How is that? Should I trust this neurologist? The headaches are worse now then they were before I went to the doctor originally. What do I believe and what do I do? I am just trying to get back to a normal life without this pain in my head!

  42. Dear Anonymous,
    The symptoms you describe of pains in the scalp and stabbing type of headaches could be the result of something as simple as nerve irritation in the upper cervical spine (neck). However, they could also result from more serious neurological conditions and should be throughly evaluated by a neurologist prior to deciding on treatment. Sounds like you have started that route. I guess the neurologist found nothing on your CT scan which is a good thing. Migraines are vascular headaches and usually show up as a throbbing pain that pulses in sync with your heartbeat. If you feel this is true, then your neurologist is likely correct. If not, then you should have further neurological evaluation until the point that a definitive diagnosis is made. By the way, a cervical curve reversal can be the cause of both migraines and the neurological symptoms you describe. However, a CT scan is not the normal way of recognizing a lordosis or kyphosis in the neck. This is done via postural evaluation and plain film lateral cervical X-rays taken in a standing position. In any event, since you know you do have a lordosis of the neck, you should at least be under treatment for helping to normalize that. If you look back at the original articles here, you'll see lots of helpful suggestions.

  43. I have just been shown x-rays that show I have a negative 25 degree curve of my neck and the angle of my C1 isn't really readable its just shoved into my brain stem. This is due to a car accident from 2005 when I was 23. I spent $25,000 and three years of various treatments out of my MVA PIP coverage trying to fix it with no success and I'd given up. I had my tubes tied knowing that my upper body limitations would never allow me to be the mom I want to be. I own my own business that involves a lot of physical work despite the level of pain I'm constantly in. I just have adjusted what I can to help with the pain and learn to live with the pain for as long as I live, which may not be long with how I feel it changing my body trying to live with my injuries. I have given up hope and have had to accept that this is who I am and don't even think about why I am this way. Now I find this out just happening to see a DC for an exam who is with a Maximized Living Clinic. He believes he can help, his approach makes sense, but we're totally broke with credit tapped out from getting our business going in the economy. Is it worth it to try to fix this? I've settled with life and rather not hope where I shouldn't. Thank you

  44. May I suggest that the first step would be to remain hopeful and positive. The body has tremendous re-cuperative powers when given the chance to heal. Never give up because nothing is more important than your health and life is to valuable to give up. If you feel the DC is competent and trustworthy I think that might be a very sensible approach for you. However, these cases take a lot of work, exercise, posture adjustment, pillow and mattress scrutiny, ergonomic work modifications, and unrelenting effort on your part to make a positive change.

  45. Hello,
    I was in a car crash 6 years ago and got whiplash. The pain wasn't there until 2 years later. I went and saw a chiropractor and had a xray done that showed I had a reversal going on. He fixed me so that my neck is now straight so I still need to get back my curvature. I'm 26 years old now and lately I've been having worse symptoms than ever before. Headaches, tingling and numbness in the whole body, visual disturbances, fatigue. I do also suffer from anxiety and depression. I'm just wondering if this is all related to my back and neck or if some of it is just anxiety? Also now that my neck is straighter and starting to get a bit of a curve how long approx. should it take to heal?

  46. Hi Doc,
    Just today I saw xrays of my spine for the first time and was diagnosed with kyphosis of the cervical spine, with slight formation of spurs on the front of C3 and C4, but no degeneration of discs or compression. This was all very interesting to me simply because my symptoms - the reasons I visited the chiro in the first place - are in my lower back. I was under the impression that my pain is from aggravation of an old sports injury (a bad swimming flip turn 12 years ago) by a long run on the beach. Back then, my R side pelvis rotated upward, making my R leg shorter than the left and causing severe pain, requiring ~2 months of physical therapy to strengthen and manipulate my pelvis back into place. The xrays taken yesterday also show my pelvis in that same position - R side 8 mm higher than L.
    Here is how the chiro tied it all together for me: kyphosis is perpetuating my forward lean, making my head weigh twice its normal weight, putting stress on my lower back muscles as they overcompensate to bring my body back into proper alignment, and prompting me to rotate my pelvis, leading to the SI joint pain. Oh, I also have hyperlordosis of the lumbar spine, as seen on the xray.
    What do you think of this? Does the pelvis rotation and SI joint dysfunction/pain really stem from my kyphosis? Or is it just a reoccurring sports injury that could be addressed with PT? A 'flare up' of the SI joint has happened once before (since the original swimming injury), and deep tissue massage and stretching seemed to fix it. Right now, however, chiro visits are actually the least expensive option, and the adjustments yesterday and today really did make a positive difference in my pain. That and some strengthening exercises (abduction/adduction/hip flexion) I found on Youtube.
    Anyway, I work at a computer 8 hours a day, was a swimmer, and could definitely have better posture and more ergonomical seating. Will practicing good posture fix all my problems? Please say yes! If adding in a bit of chiro spine adjustments and manipulations would also benefit me, that would be good to know also.
    Sorry so long, but you seem so knowledgeable! Thanks a ton. ~Lindsey, 32yo female

  47. Hello, I have a question, can a car accident cause this problem, even if I have had lower back pain caused by sciatica in the past. I was diagnosed after having a car accident, where my car had flipped. I have been having severe upper back pain and shoulder pain, along with changes in motor function and noted change in balance. Could This be caused by the car accident? None of these problems existed until after the accident, and the lower back pain became worse. M.W. female, 27yrs

  48. Dear M.W.
    Certainly a car accident can lead to injuries to brain, spinal cord, spine and/or nerves leading to all of the symptoms you describe. However, that being said, it does not guarantee that the accident is responsible. You would need to have a thorough history, neurological and orthopedic examination to help determine such. X-rays, an MRI or CT scan may also be necessary to narrow down the etiology and diagnois.

  49. Hi, I'm a 21 year old female who was in a major MVA in August 2010. I went to a physio for a couple weeks, felt less pain and stopped going. The pain in my lower back and neck area got really bad around December so I went to a physio from Dec-March. With my luck, I got rear-ended in May 2011 and again about a month ago (Dec 2011). This time, x-rays showed reversal of cervical lordosis at C5 and scoliosis of lumbar spine to the left at L3. Before this last accident in December, I had already started feeling constant neck and back pain. My doctor recommended massage and pool therapy. Are there any things I can do in my daily life to help fix this other than the ergonomic workplace and sleeping pillows?

  50. Hi G.K.
    What you likely need to do are the #2 and #3 outlined above and re-iterated below. You will need to get a good physiotherapist or chiropractor to prescribe and demonstrate the exercises that will best suit your condition.

    Flexibility exercises for flexion and extension of cervical spine
    Resistance exercises for flexors and extensors of the neck
    Learn the Alexander Technique for maintaining good posture (HINT: the basic philosophy is to sit and stand like you were hanging by a string from the vertex of your skull. Liken it to a puppet on a string).

  51. Hi, I'm 28 years old and I have Kyphosis but it's not so severe. Unfortunately I inherited it from my mom which she inherited from her father.
    I am an athlete and am working out regularly for many years; however I haven't seen any improvement so far.
    I decided to search further and try to fix/improve it as much as possible for cosmetic purposes and for the peace of my mind.
    Do you believe that a chiropractor can assist me towards that??
    If so, are you aware of any chiropractors that specialize on kyphosis in the Houston area?
    Thank you in advance

  52. Hi Tasos,

    I think The Harper Wellness Center, Dr. Dana Harper may be you good choice for you. Dana treats the professional ball teams in Houston and has a complete physical rehab facility on site. He could set you up with specific therapy/exercises to help restore the normal curvature as well as offer spinal manipulation to set the various stiff joints in motion so they respond to the exercises. It won't happen through the typical workout routine.

  53. Hi,

    I am a 27 year old female and have been having neck problems for nearly two years. The pain causes awful neck spasms and electric shock pains during flare ups. After a year, I finally had an MRI that said I had an osteo bulging disk at c6/7 where there is bilateral minimal narrowing of nerve canals on left side, reversed cervical lordosis, osteo discal bars at c5/6, mild spodylitic changes in the neck. My Hospital say that I have chronic pain and no surgery will help, yet they have not let me see a neuropathist. I am told chronic pain is related to the brain but they say there is nothing much they can and I need to learn to live with it. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!!

  54. Hi anonymous from Jan 24th. Regarding your neck spasms/electric shock pains, sounds like your have degenerative disks with perhaps some compromised nerve roots. These are probably from a previous injury given that you are only 27 years old. The curve reversal is probably causing further degenerative changes and needs to be rehabilitated. The story that chronic pain is all brain related on that there is no solution is ridiculous. You need to look for a 2nd opinion. I would suggest you solicit your friends or co-workers for referral to a competent chiropractor that has a comprehensive and rehabilitative approach; one that includes exercises and physio-therapy. You will also need a good cervical orthopedic pillow and an ergonomic evaluation of your work environment.

  55. Hello,
    I just got back from my second (ever) chiropractor visit. He took some xrays and found out my neck is straight and even 'stair stepped'. He suggested a contraption that holds my head secure while a balloon inflates under the back of my neck to arch it a bit. It costed $150 so I was just curious if you're familiar with it or if it works well. I have also had a cracking/popping sound everytime I turn my head to the left for the past year. What would cause this and do you think that neck contraption will help? I'm only 25 and the popping suddenly happened one morning and not accident related.


    1. Hi Summer,
      I'm so sorry to have missed your post and for taking so long to respond. I get notified by email and I recently found this unanswered.
      To answer your questions, let me begin by saying that "popping or cracking" in the spine can occur whenever there is faulty bio-mechanics that cause a joint or joints to move beyond their normal range or in an abnormal fashion. Although suggestive of some faulty bio-mechanics, in itself it is not worrisome unless associated with pain.

      Regarding the cervical curve reversal and machine you describe to help correct it, I am familiar with such and would agree with your chiropractor that it can indeed be beneficial. That being said, I will qualify this statement by saying it will be a complete waste of time and money if you are not simultaneously adjusting your lifestyle, practicing posture improvement techniques, sleeping properly on a specialized neck pillow, performing strengthening/flexibility exercises and receiving regular chiropractic adjustments. It takes this holistic approach if you one is to actually re-posture the spinal vertebrae. You can expect results consistent with your efforts to comply with such a comprehensive program. I wish you great success.

  56. Hello! I'm a 23 year old female and was recently in a car accident, no severe injuries, knee and back sprains but had difficulty walking for a week. went to my new found chiropractor by referal, after x-rays it was determined that I had "military neck' or cervical kyphosis. But it wasn't caused by the recent accident, in fact he said by the level of deteroration in the spine it has been there for at least 10 years or more. Is it possible I could have been born with defect. If so why wasn't it caught sooner. Or if not can it cause other symptoms that would seem unrelated to it?

  57. You could have been born with the potential to develop an abnormally reversed neck curvature; however, we all are pretty much born with one complete "C" curvature and the normal spinal curvatures develop through crawling and upright walking. The stature or posture you finally develop can be somewhat influenced by genetics, but it is not the total determining factor. As far as why someone would not note the curve reversal prior to now, it would be highly unlikely that the only person that might notice such would be the really trained eye of a chiropractor or very diligent and competent orthopedist. Most physicians are not well-trained in identifying spinal postural distortions with the exception of what is called a non-compensated scoliosis.

    I'm not sure what symptoms you are wondering about, but a cervical kyphosis can either be asymptomatic or elicit a whole host of symptoms as follows:

    (2)neck tension
    (4)ringing in ears
    (5)pain and tension in the neck as well as pain between the shoulder blades
    (6)degenerative arthritis and disk disease below the apex of the curve reversal
    (7)shooting pains to the head or down the arm
    (8)inability to relax at night leading to insomnia

    I hope this is helpful and answers your questions

  58. Hello backdoc! I'm glad to have found your blog since it is a lot more uplifting and optimistic than most other web content on this issue.

    I'm actually still hopeful that my situation is relatively minor. But I'm a worrier, and I certainly don't want to be plagued with neck/back issues for the rest of my life.

    I'm 37 years old. I am an IT professional (computers). I'm am currently working to improve my ergonomics (chair, desk, both at work and at home). I have admittedly not had the best posture at work since I've been mostly concerned with preserving my wrists at the expense (I now realize) of my neck.

    Around the first of the year, I suddenly had a stabbing pain in the base of my neck while reaching into the fridge. When the pain hit out of the blue, it was excruciating for several minutes. But then was only excruciating if I moved my head much in any direction for the next week or two (especially when moving it "ear to shoulder"). Since then, I have remained tight and sore along my neck upper back. A couple of massages and five trips to PT have not helped all that much. I'm no longer in excruciating pain. Just. . . uncomfortable most of the time. Especially while sitting. I only occasionally feel a sharp pain if I move my head *all* the way back. . . or sometimes very rarely if I turn my head and look down and to the right. But the overall stiffness and soreness is ever-present.

    Not sure about ultimate cause. I've had brief episodes of neck pain like this that usually resolved themselves within a week. This one, however, just won't completely go away.

    Here's where it gets (I hope) interesting. On a follow-up visit to the (GP) doctor, he took an x-ray. He noted that the lordosis in my lower neck (along the lower three vertebrae) had been straightened out and attributed this to the muscles around those vertebrae pulling on them due to the injury.

    He then pointed out that the disc height of those lower affected vertebra were perceptibly smaller than the upper vertebrae.

    Which is when he said the words that are troubling me: "I wouldn't expect to see this neck on someone your age. The loss of disc height there shows wear and tear. When I see someone with a neck like this, it tells me that they are probably going to have neck issues and have to work on their neck for the rest of their lives."

    Okay, I guess I should get to my questions:

    1. Once I finally heal from the acute strain/sprain that is causing the sharp pain, is it reasonable to expect lordosis of the lower vertebrae to return?

    2. Might the narrowing of the disc height in the lower vertebrae also improve once this acute injury resolves itself?

    3. Given that this darn neck strain/sprain has lasted for over two months now, is it time to panic? (heh, kidding, mostly)

    I'm going to work actively to maintain my neck health into the future. But it sure would be a relief to know that I may not have a permanent/degenerative condition. I'd hate to think that I've lost cervical lordosis and disc height permanently.

    Chiropractic isn't covered by my insurance. I'm hoping to achieve full recovery and maintenance of my neck via (covered) PT and home care. I hope that sounds reasonable.

    Thank you!


  59. Hi Jim,

    First, I might mention that you have quite a perceptive GP doctor, because many are not as versed in such details of the mechanics of the spine. That's nice to see.

    Sounds like you have the beginning stages of degenerative spondylosis, whereby the reverse in your neck curve is beginning to wear out the spinal discs below the curve reversal. This is much more likely than the spasm causing this appearance and it is not uncommon at all at age 37. This situation can present with either very mild symptoms or very severe symptoms with pain and/or numbness shooting into the arms.

    I love that you are looking at your ergonomic setup. It is of utmost importance to the future outcome of this condition. It is funny to me that the folks who make a living using computers are the worst at setting up their work environment to be good for them. I once consulted with a guy at IBM who was their lead person for making sure that the ergonomic protocol for their products was up to speed. When, I met with him in his office, he had the "ergonomic unfriendly" I had ever encountered. That just boggled my mind.

    In any event, let me answer your questions:

    1) when your acute pain subsides, the lordosis will not likely correct, because it almost certainly preceded the pain. Pain is the last thing to show up and the first thing to go away
    2) Although there are some studies that show the ability to regenerate disc cartilage, the fact that it will always carry the weight of your head, the space will not return. At best, you halt the progress of degeneration and restore the natural curve through lifestyle, ergonomic and chiropractic intervention. I would also recommend "home supine cervical traction", perhaps with a device called: Comfortrac. See all the treatment protocol I recommend in the article above.
    3)Certainly, don't panic, because anxiety will cause more spasm and worsen the condition. The good news is if you are willing to do what it takes, you can partially correct and then live with this situation with very little further problems throughout your life.
    4)I wouldn't sweat the fact you have some of this. Almost everyone that works at a desk or who ever has had a whiplash will develop this. It all about how you treat yourself. I've seen folks with minimal degeneration who have terrible problems and those with massive degeneration who care for themselves properly and never have symptoms.
    5) I mentioned a chiropractor over a PT, but it possible to do it with a very well versed PT. The best results are achieved when spinal manipulation is part of the treatment protocol. There are PTs that are trained in spinal manipulation and although it could be done without it, it would be better to have it.

    I hope this helps you recover and let me know if I can help you select the right ergonomic chair or other treatment modality.

  60. Hi Doc,
    A recent x-ray has shown that I have some straightening of the neck. Could this have resulted from a bulging disk I may have had in Nov?

    1. Hi Mark,
      Actually, if you are not currently in a guarded position due to neck pain, the straightening of the neck curvature is much more likely a causative factor in the bulging disk rather than a result of such. It is important for us to have a curve in our neck so that the cervical disks are not forced to be weight-bearing. They are only space occupiers and shock absorbers, but not meant to support the weight of the head as would happen when the curve is lost.

  61. Hi backdoc,
    I am so glad I found this site..I have been dealing with neck pain and headaches for the past year now. I went to the chiropractor and was diagnosed with loss of curvature in my neck. My question is, will this cause chronic headaches? (the headaches feel as if i have been grinding my teeth all day) I have researched this condition over and over again but only ends in not being able to find symptoms of a headache and I am now starting to worry that maybe theres something else causing my headaches.

  62. I would also like to add to my comment above that I also have dizziness when I stand from a sitting position which also started when the headaches started.

    1. There are numerous causes of chronic headaches, so I'm not sure we can pinpoint the cause of your particular problem. However, both the headaches and dizziness can certainly be associated with a loss of curve in the neck. This posture places a great deal of tension on the muscles of the neck and tension headaches often result. Additionally, if the curve is actually reversed, we sometimes see a stretch placed on the vertebral artery and dizziness can result with various positioning. The description of going from sitting to standing is not the typical scenario though. That is more reminiscent of hypoglycemia, hypoadrenia or blood pressure problems. You need to be completely evaluated by your chiropractor or doctor to narrow down the specific cause in your case. Chiropractic adjustments to the neck can be helpful if the problem is neck related, but you must first be tested to make sure you are not a candidate for stroke, especially if there is involvement of the vertebral artery. I'm not sure how old you are, but stroke issues would be more prevalent a problem in age 35 and above. If you are not comfortable with your chiropractor, then get a complete workup from a trusted general practitioner or internist prior to your routine of chiropractic manipulation.

  63. Hi there. I am 28 yo female recent diagnosed with cervical kyphosis. I have never had any neck pain in my life until this year after visiting a chiropractor. He told me that he would be able to help with my migraines. I am now doing physical therapy and have to meet with an Orthopedic doctor in 2 weeks to find out how severe it is. My question for you is do you think the chiropractor's aggressive neck manipulations caused my neck pain? he was a very large, strong man who used his hands. Over a 3 month span I had 30 adjustments. Now I can barely get though a single day with out pain. I am taking muscle relaxers at bedtime and flector, a NSAID pain patch on my neck at night. My migraines have gotten worse. Please advise your thoughts! Ashley

  64. Also, I forgot to mention, I get periodic/random dizzy spells & lightheadedness. I am very scared. Please help! Ashley

  65. Ashley, you are asking me to condemn the treatment of a chiropractor without actually knowing the exact delivery and method of treatment and without knowing all of the doctor's findings in your case. I cannot comment intelligently one way or the other. However, I can interject some food for thought though.

    The size and strength of the doctor may or may not have anything to do with it. There are small lady doctors who adjust with significant force and very large male doctors who utilize very gentle techniques. There is a certain amount of soreness expected from virtually any chiropractic adjustment, sort of like post exercise soreness. Sometimes you get worse before getting better. That being said, a chiropractic adjustment, if done inappropriately for the patient and/or patient's condition can actually harm rather than help. This is something you should certainly discuss with the chiropractor because you don't mention that there was any discussion of such.

    30 adjustments over a 3 month period could be excessive but not unheard for when the findings demand it. You mentioned a cervical kyphosis that often does contribute to migraines and can indeed take time to properly manage.

    The most concerning fact is that you are now suffering more neck pain than you were prior to treatment and that you are still having migraines. Obviously, your chiropractic regimen as experienced did not resolve your problems. There are many contributory factors involved in migraines and each patient's headaches can have a different combination of factors. To best serve the individual patient all factors must be determined and addressed. A cervical pillow, dietary advice, exercise and stress reduction are always important to consider.

    It currently sounds like you neck is quite weak and the mobilization of stiff joints in the neck can result in weakness if you were not following a program of neck exercises in conjunction with your treatments. That is something you may want to discuss with your current doctor of choice.

    1. Thank you sir for your reply. I did not find out that I had cervical kyphosis until recently (about a week ago) whereras the Chiropractor adjustments were done in April-June of this year (with neck pain beginning around June). Could 30 improper adjustments cause this problem? What if I had the kyphosis prior to receiving the manipulations, could that be why I am in so much pain now and what kind of long term problems would that cause to my neck? The fact of the matter and the scariest part for me is that I have never before had neck pain in my entire life until after my neck adjustments. And while being adjusted, the chiropractor never once recommended physical therapy or neck exercises in conjunction. As far as his manipulations of the neck, I do not know the name of them but i would lie flat on my back with the chiropractor behind my head, he would grab my head with both hands and agressively twist my neck to both sides, and sometimes also pull my neck straight back. he would also do an upper back "crack" where I would cross my arms and lie back and he would sort of hug me as I got to the lieing flat position to make it crack. Neck week I meet with an Orthopedic doctor to find out how bad and what type of CK I have, and I pray I do not need surgery. Something inside of me is telling me that the chiropractor did more harm than good being that I now have neck pain in addition to more frequent headaches. I worry about the vertebral artery in my neck and hope it hasn't gotten injured. As I mentioned, I have periodic/random dizzy spells and lightheaded ness as well. As a side note, I am also getting brain MRI and Angiogram to see if there is anything abnormal. Thanks for your time & input, it is much appreciated. Ashley

    2. Ashley, being that your neck pain didn't begin until June, yet your adjustments began on a frequent basis in April, it would be highly unlikely that the adjustments would be improper or deemed responsible for your pain. The fact you were pain free through most of them, would pretty much likely deny that scenario. The adjustments are much more likely to help, rather than cause kyphosis, so I'm assuming you must have already had such. Kyphosis can cause lots of symptoms including the dizziness, headaches and eventual disk degeneration if bad enough. The Angiogram and MRI are good tests for further evaluation. I hope your new orthopedic doctor helps you resolve your issues.

  66. Chriopractic care opens the pathway for the body to heal itself ,the most common side effect of chiropractic is relief of symptoms.Headaches are not normal period , be wise not to ignore them , chiropractic may be a solution for you.

  67. Dear doctor, I am 20 years old, and have had neck problems for the past 2-3 years. At first my neck would only hurt if I did some intense sports the previous day. But this past year my neck would hurt if I just had bad posture the previous day. After taking X-rays at different hospitals, every doctor told me that I have a relatively straight curve or even a slightly reversed one in my neck. And that it is impossible to heal as it is born like that. I am worried that I will have this problem for the rest of my life. Is there any way possible that I can heal it completely? Thank you. When my neck hurts it does not have any numbness, it's just really hard to move it around.

    1. Hi David, sorry I've taken a few days to respond to you. First of all, reversed curves are rarely something to be born with. They are almost always the result of either head/neck injuries, whiplash, stomach sleeping or poor posture in the workplace. Being that you are only 20 yrs old, it is most like the result of an injury at some time in your life. It is certainly not surprising that you suffer pain after session of poor posture because a reversed curve places pressure on sensitive tissues like the spinal disks. The reason your neck is hard to move around sometimes is because you have a bio-mechanical dysfunction that sometimes leads to spasm of the muscles, splinting the area and limiting movement. There is no reason you should have to live with the problem. I've clearly outlined the treatment plan for such a condition in my article above. If you follow it to the letter you should have good resolution. Do not leave out any of the steps and Be Well!

  68. Hi,I have been diagnosed with cervical kyphosis and my neck is slightly bent at the top. This happened from a car accident I had two years ago and I have been going to one doctor to the other and have not found a solution yet. The last orthopedics told me that I should do therapy using the Extentrac Elite. He told me that this would put my spine back into place and I would be able to continue activities such as playing the piano and aerobics. I fear this type of therapy though. How safe is this machine and can it make your situation even worse? Could you give me your opinion?

    Thank you,


    1. Natassa,
      Certainly, if used correctly, under the guidance of a competent, experienced physical therapist or doctor, therapeutic traction like that offered by the Extentrac Elite should be quite safe and a sensible component of a comprehensive approach to restoring a normal cervical curvature. That being said, the key words are: "a sensible component". I say that because this therapy alone will not likely restore a normal curvature. It must be combined with a multitude of therapeutic and self care components to achieve favorable and long term results.. The comprehensive approach is described in my treatment protocol outlined in this above article (Cervical Kyphosis - Loss or Reversal of Neck Curvature). The safety factor is based on the practical knowledge of your history, examination and findings in your particular case but if there are not extenuating circumstances like laxity or damage in certain ligaments or other possible contra-indicative findings it should be fairly safe under professional supervision.

  69. Thank you very much for your reply. The orthopedist told me that without the therapeutic traction that I won't be able to do aerobics, dance and play the piano again which is my profession. I was devastated.

    This year the pain has got worse. At the end of the day, I feel a heaviness from my head going down to my back and shoulders and a stiffness. I can not do aerobics anymore because I get dizzy and I find doing every day jobs really difficult to do. I am 39 years old but I feel 70 and the pain has begun to interfere psychologically.

    Thank you,


  70. Natassa, there might be some concern that your vertebral artery flow is being slowed down with certain positions of your neck and during various exercise activities. If you have not been evaluated for such, you likely need to have some doppler ultraound studies measuring blood flow with various positions of the neck. When the curve is reversed it is quite easy to shut off some blood flow to the brain eliciting dizzy spells. Even if this is true, one way or another, you can work toward restoring the curve and eliminating the symptoms. In some cases, this cannot be accomplished without first mobilizing the joints through chiropractic adjustments. I think the traction idea is a good one, but not the only way to restore the curvature.

  71. Dear Backdoc:
    I am 58 years old and I have literally lived with cervical kyphosis for over 30 years. Your description of the possible causes mirrored my situation, that is stomach sleeping [during my younger years], poor posture, and sitting in front of a computer for extended periods. I have seen numerous doctors and chiropractors for my condition without any significant and long term relief. At this stage, I am in desperate need of help. Please provide an approach [exercises, therapy, traction, books, videos, etc.] that would ultimately lead to the effective treatment of my condition. Thank you.

    1. Emmanuel,
      I pretty much outline the treatment protocol in the blog article you posted on. You might want to re-read. I don't go over the actual exercises, because that would require instruction and illustrations which I do not have. I'm not aware of a better comprehensive explanation of the problem/solution than the article I have written in either books or videos. However, I do like the neck flexion and extension exercises portrayed on the following page: You could start with a program like that (utilizing the Cox equipment mentioned) and then graduate to one using various gym equipment. Perhaps you have access to such. Here is the link showing demos using gym equipment: -- Please be aware that you should be under the care and guidance of a competent chiropractor or physiotherapist that can help you through such a program. The exercises alone will not work. You need to follow the rest of my program. In my own catalog, I offer the best of Cervical traction type of equipment for safe home use. You can see that here: -- You would use this in the position of least height/angle with a cervical roll under your neck for best results.

  72. Hi,

    my name is Natassa and I wrote to you in the past.

    I started physiotherapy which included ultra sound, laser, acupuncture, massage, neck stretches and exercise with the result of me getting dizzy spells and low blood pressure. I was rushed to the hospital and it took me five hours to recover. I had a CAT scan, cardiogram and everything came out negative. I am now taking relaxants but I still get the dizzy spells after three days. I sometimes used to get them while doing aerobics but I now get them when I do not have any neck support.

    I have stopped physiotherapy and I am also going to get an artery test (the one you mention above).I am taking relaxants and I hope that the dizzy spells will stop because I will lose my job.

    Do you think that the dizzy spells will go away? I was very careful choosing my physiotherapist; he's one of the best in Greece though when I was telling him about these symptoms, he said that they were normal.

    What do you think I can do and will I recover or how long will it take to get back to my normal life?

    In anguish,


    1. Natassa,
      I'm so sorry to hear about your unfortunate incident and hospital visit. I'm sure one way or another there is hope for your recovery. If your therapist tells you the symptoms that sent you to the hospital are normal, then you certainly need to seek care elsewhere. The Doppler Ultrasound testing of blood flow through the vertebral artery is certainly a necessity. The other tests you had at the hospital will not pick up the same issues that the Doppler test could show. Measurement of the blood flow to your hands and head with your head in various positions is what is necessary. I wish you the best in finding competent help.

  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

  74. Thank you for your reply.

    The test that Im going to have done is the TRIPLEX. Do you think that this will do? If the test comes out positive,how is it treated?

    Thank you for your time,


  75. Hi There, I've just come across your blog; really helpful advice.

    My girlfriend (32) has been suffering with these problems for about six months. She had an MRI in September, and was diagnosed with a loss of lordosis and symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome. These manifested themselves in severe back spasms, tingling sensations in her arms, and (at first, there was even a loss of feeling in her arm). Initially, the orthopaedic surgeon was worried that she might have a cervical rib, but the MRI scan showed that everything was normal in this regard, and the only real issue is the straightening of her cervical spine. The doctors think this is caused by bad posture and loss of muscle in her back and neck, all resulting from her work: she's doing a PhD and has spent 3 years working in a poor ergonomic environment, working on a laptop. She has not worked at all in the past six months, and hardly ever uses the computer now.

    For about six weeks now, she has been having intensive physio: twice per week, plus one aquatherapy session and a massage (as well as trips to the osteopath about once or twice a month). On top of this, she is trying to exercise more: walking at least an hour a day, doing two sessions of core stretches and strengthening exercises, cutting out inflammatories, and doing the Alexander technique.

    The physio thinks she is making progress, and it is clear that her muscles are starting to get stronger. However, the major issue that we're worried about is that fact that her symptoms are still very up and down. Some days she feels fine, and can almost live normally again; even using the computer for a short period of time (her work area is much more ergonomic now, and she sets a timer so that she gets up and moves around continually). She is also now using a contour pillow, and our landlady bought us a new orthopaedic bed and mattress. However, she also has bad days: she thinks that this could be because, as she feels better, she does more things around the house, like folding up washing and so on, or she goes out and tires herself out by doing too many activities. Some days she even starts to get tingling again in her arms, along with various other aches, pains and unpleasant sensations.

    I guess my questions is: can the recurrence of symptoms like this actually be a sign that the neck is healing? My theory is that the fact that some of her symptoms get better and then worse, could be indicative of the fact that her cervical spine is gradually curving into its correct posture, placing stress on muscles which were out of sync but are now being pushed back into sync? I think here of the old cliche 'it will get worse before it gets better'! I'm not a medical doctor, though, so any advice you can give in this regard would be appreciated, particularly since she is getting a little stir crazy and really hoping she can start working again in January. Thanks!

    1. Matthew, after all the time that your girl friend has been dealing with this, the re-occurrence of symptoms is not a sign that her neck is healing. Obviously lots of effort has been done by her to get well, but I think some of it has been misguided in direction. Although walking is good exercise, it is not likely to be advantageous to her condition. I don't think it will hurt her unless she is looking at the ground when she walks or walking with poor posture. However, it is not a valuable part of the treatment for this particular problem. I also see little value in the aquatic exercises for this particular problem. She needs progressive resistance and stretching exercises for very specific muscle groups related to the core strength of the cervical and thoracic spine. She also needs to strengthen the retracting muscles of the shoulder blades to overcome the strength of the pectoralis major and minor muscles. Deep muscle massage will be require on the pec minor and she will need to have a great progressive stretching routine for the chest back and rotator cuff muscles. She also needs regular spinal manipulation. I'm not sure whether her osteopath is performing such but either that doctor or perhaps a chiropractor needs to do so. The Alexander Technique is wonderful, but cannot be accomplished without a combination of the rest of the things I describe above.

  76. Hi Doc!

    I also have been diagnosed with a straight neck. This has lead to a degenarated disc and spondylarthrosis on my C5 - C6. One of the spurs is now pinching a nerve.

    I have been to a chiropractor who corrects the alignment of my spine.

    He tells me that a degenerated disc can not be reversed. I however am not a believer in those kind of statements so I found a site with some form of therapy, which I follow.

    I wonder what your opinion is on curve restoring and disc regeneration.

    An answer would be greatly appreciated!

    Yours sincerely,

    Jeroen (Netherlands)

    1. Hello Jeroen,
      Technically, disc regeneration to restore a normal disc height is not likely possible. However, I believe it is viable to expect restoration of disc function if you undertake the right regimen of care. Your posture and ergonomic setup of working environs is crucial. Drinking lots of pure water for rehydration is number 1. It is also important to avoid sugar, and other acid producing food and drink. One must consume a good diet of organic foods including 5-8 servings of veggies and fruits, with about 1/2 of those raw. Must also consume enough quality protein for repair of the tissues and must include all the essential amino acids. Limit animal proteins to fish, eggs, poultry. Any red meats should be wild game but at least 1/2 of the meals should substitute vegetable protein for animal. Take high grade Krill Oil, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C and other joint supplements containing hyaluronic acid, natural eggshell membrane (NEM) and undenatured type II collagen. Stretch and strengthen your core and spine with yoga, pilates and progressive resistance exercises for the neck and spine. Regular chiropractic adjustments are mandatory to restore and maintain enough spinal joint movement to feed the discs.

  77. Hey Doc,

    I have been seeing a chiroprator for a hip injury and although that has seen results, a couple months later I started feeling pain around my neck and shoulders. It has been going on now for almost two years.

    I got my xrays examined again yesterday and she said I have a military neck. I was convided I had forward head posture but she said that is not the case.

    Right now I do some exercises by lading down on moulding fulcrums she gave me but these are of little help. I am 22 years old and am wondering if this can be corrected. It really affects my quality of life.



    1. Hi Manny, yes certainly you can very likely correct this problem. Military neck is virtually a less severe kyphosis, and by following the routine I recommended in this article, you can correct the situation. Simply laying on molded rolls will not do it but that is a valuable adjunctive therapy. You need progressive resistance exercises for strengthening both the flexors and extenders of the neck. The strength and pull of the scalene muscles in the front and center of your neck is crucial to restoring the curvature. Ask you chiropractor to show you how to do such

  78. Hi,

    I'm sixteen years old and have really bad back pains. When we do excersises at school I am the only peron who can't seem to lie my back flat on the floor. Every so often I am also getting pains like 'electric shocks' shooting up my back and across my ribs too sometimes. It seems to be getting worse and in class I can sometimes get dizzy spells at the time of my back pain. My parents think it's growing pains but I'm not so sure. Also, my parents keep telling me to straighten my back because my hips push backwards but I can't do it without feeling pain. Do you know what is wrong?


    1. Hi, not sure what is wrong. There can be a lot of different things, but I am sure that it is not simply growing pains. Dizzy spells associated with back pain would rule out any possibility of so called "growing pains". There is really no such thing as an acceptable growing pain. It could be that you have scoliosis, but you really need to see a physician or chiropractor for a proper diagnosis.

  79. I was born with and Extra Vertebrae and A Reverse neck Curve and Scoliosis! I had a Compressing Fracture in 06, I have a 14 inch Rods in my Spine, They had to use a Smaller one for me such as a 12 yr old would have!! I have a Foam neck Brace for Pediatric size! 0 Neb Blood..

    1. Hi Theresa, sounds like you have been through quite a bit with your spinal condition. However, you really didn't ask me a question, so I'm not sure how to answer you. I still think the advise in my article pertains to you. You should be doing regular spinal and core strengthening exercises (including neck) and should sleep on the best of mattresses (perhaps talalay latex) with a supportive neck pillow.


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