It is easy to see how the structure of something can help determine its function. Structure and function are intimately intertwined. You wouldn’t buy a bike with square tires because the curves of the wheel serve a purpose for the proper function of the bike. As chiropractors we look at spine with the same perspective. The structure and curve, cervical spine curve, of your spine gives us an indication of how your body is functioning, or how we can expect it to function in the future.
Cervical Spine Curve
When you visit our office, you will notice that we are particularly concerned about the curve, or lack thereof, of the neck, also known as the cervical spine. The seven vertebral bones that make up the cervical spine form a wide “C” shaped curvature, with the curve going toward the front of the neck. Several factors can lead to a loss of this curve resulting in a straightened neck, or even a reversed curve. These factors include:
- repetitive stress
- or simply poor posture
So why is a cervical spine curve in particular so important for the overall function of your body?
Importance of Cervical Spine Curve
First of all, the cervical spine supports the head, keeping it upright and centered. Our bodies want to keep our head upright and level and if the cervical curve is lost the rest of the spine and supporting musculature will have to work harder to make up the difference. Placing added stress on the supporting muscles and ligaments of the neck and upper back to hold the head upright can lead to chronic “tension”, pain, and even headaches. An improper curve also places added stress on the discs of the spine, leading to degeneration of these discs as well as the vertebral bones that surround them. If left uncorrected, this can lead to restricted movement and chronic pain, among other things.
Quite possibly the most important part of having a normal cervical curve is it allows for optimal nerve function and proper communication from the brain to the rest of the body. The misalignment and restricted movement of the vertebral bones caused from a loss of cervical curve can choke off or irritate the nerves that leave through the spine in this region. The nerves in this area go to places like the skull, eyes, sinuses, and even heart and if left uncorrected can potentially cause headaches, sinus issues, or heart conditions.
So what do we do to help restore a natural curve to the neck?
Restoring Cervical Spine Curve
- Adjustments – Adjustments ensure proper alignment and motion of the vertebral bones of the neck. This is the foundation for helping to restore a normal curve in the neck in which all other therapies can build on.
- Cervical traction/Denneroll – Improves the endurance, mobility, and agility of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the spine that can be damaged or stressed as a result of losing the curve. .
- Exercises/Stretches – As a part of our corrective care plan we include proper strengthening exercises and stretches to help improve posture, and relieve tension on the supporting musculature. This will help combat the repetitive stresses throughout the day that can wreak havoc on your curve.
X-rays help us to see the structure of your cervical curve. If you have any questions about your cervical spine curve, we would be happy to show it to you…just Contact Us to schedule an appointment.