Do you suspect that you suffer from cervical lordosis? This neck condition related to the amount of curve in your spine can create extreme pain and discomfort. While cervical lordosis often appears on its own, it can also be linked with other serious spinal conditions. Take a look at the basics of cervical lordosis.
The simplest definition of cervical lordosis is an exaggerated inward curve of your cervical spine. The first thing to know is that curvature isn’t problematic by default. In fact, a normal degree of curvature actually promotes spinal health and healthy movements. While some degree of curvature is normal, your curvature can become abnormal due to a number of different factors. Here’s a look at some common underlying causes of cervical lordosis:
- Health conditions impacting the spinal column or vertebrae.
There are two telltale signs of cervical lordosis. For some people, this condition causes a persistent discomfort. Other people live with extreme pain. Here’s a look at some specific symptoms that could be telling you it’s time to get checked out for cervical lordosis:
- Back pain.
- Neck pain.
- Poor posture.
- Reduced range of motion in the neck and upper back.
While genetics cause some people to have this condition from birth, most people who develop cervical lordosis experience some sort of injury or repetitive stress. In fact, cervical lordosis can develop at any time. It is sometimes triggered by conditions like scoliosis, kyphosis, osteoporosis-related bone weakening, disc herniation, disc prolapse, discitis, obesity and muscle spasms.
How Is Cervical Lordosis Diagnosed?
Cervical lordosis can be difficult to diagnose due to the fact that the symptoms of this condition can overlap with the symptoms of many other conditions. As a result, many mainstream medical experts are often unfamiliar with the signs to look for when diagnosing a patient with cervical lordosis. What’s more, some medical providers are outright dismissive when it comes to tying the root cause of pain to the spine. This can cause some people to go years without a proper diagnosis or treatment plan when living with very painful, debilitating cervical lordosis that grows worse as times goes on.
When working with care providers that understand the complexity of cervical lordosis, you’re able to share your symptoms. You will also go over your health history to discuss any underlying conditions, injuries, lifestyle habits or accidents that could be contributing to the overall health and function of your spine, immune system and central nervous system. Next, a physical examination will help to identify any obvious signs that your neck and spine are experiencing exaggerated or abnormal curvature. A visual examination may be all that’s needed to confirm lordosis in some cases. However, more complex diagnostic tools may be appropriate if your care provider determines that it’s best to get a closer look at your neck and spine to confirm a cervical lordosis diagnosis. This will often be done using a CT scan, MRI or X-ray.
Why Is Correcting Cervical Lordosis Important?
For some people, the intense pain and discomfort that accompany this condition create a desperate need for corrective relief. However, people who have very mild or sporadic symptoms may assume that they can just “grin and bear it” whenever their neck acts us. This is actually a misconception. The reality is that having a healthy neck curve is important for total health and wellness.
There’s something very important to think about when it comes to neck dysfunction of any kind. The curve of our necks is what connects our brains to the rest of the body! When we allow our neck curvature to remain dysfunctional, we are allowing a blockage on the “bridge” connecting our brains and bodies. The other big issue with allowing cervical lordosis to go untreated is that the neck plays a vital role in supporting the weight of the head. When a neck is properly balanced, it’s able to distribute the weight of the head evenly throughout the spine. When the neck is off balance, the weight of the head is now unevenly distributed. This has the potential to create spinal misalignments and blockages that can impact the entire central nervous system. Unfortunately, this opens up the possibility for chronic pain, inflammation, mobility issues, headaches, mood issues, sleep issues, weight gain and much more. The role of the neck in maintaining balance throughout the entire body is far too important to dismiss an improper or dysfunctional degree of curvature. In fact, not correcting a suspected case of cervical lordosis could lead to long-term pain that will be very hard to diagnose and treat once the “chain reaction” occurs.
The Aesthetic Angle
Yes, cervical lordosis can impact your appearance. In fact, a visual change in posture is often present when people suffer from cervical lordosis. This can create an asymmetrical appearance in the body even when a person is doing their best to stand up straight. Unfortunately, this is something that can rob you of your confidence because you feel like you have a very “odd” shape compared to other people.
Can My Lifestyle Cause Cervical Lordosis?
Yes, everyday habits that many of us have can actually cause cervical lordosis. People who stare at screens for long periods of time each day are at risk. What most people don’t realize when they look at screens is that they are drastically altering their posture to be able to “zoom in” on the screen. Have you ever noticed that your head feels heavier after you look up from texting or scrolling on your phone? Something very specific was happening while you were “wrapped up” in your screen. The “stooping” posture that you used to keep your head immersed in your screen actually placed more of your head’s weight on your neck and spine than usual. As a result, your head got heavier even though it weighed the same. In some cases, you can even double or quadruple the “true” weight of your head when you’re immersed in a screen without using intentional posture that keeps your neck in an upright position.
“When your head juts forward at a 45 degree angle, your neck acts like a fulcrum, like a long lever lifting a heavy object,” according to researchers at San Francisco State University. “Now the muscle weight of your head and neck is the equivalent of about 45 pounds. It is not surprising people get stiff necks and shoulder and back pain.”
It’s very important to use good “screen hygiene” for the sake of your posture. Your eyes, chin and ears should all be “looking forward” instead of pointing downward during screen usage. For some people, this means being conscious of how they position their heads when glancing at their phones. If you work at a computer for long hours as part of your job, it may be necessary to completely audit your workstation to ensure that your computer screen is placed in a way that doesn’t force you to look downward.
How Do You Treat Cervical Lordosis?
Prevention is important when it comes to cervical lordosis. This condition’s connection to screen usage means that nobody is too young to begin being proactive about protecting their necks from unnecessary pressure. The first step is simply learning good posture techniques for keeping an upright, forward stance without “slumping” in any part of your body. Of course, it will be necessary to undo the unhealthy curvature if cervical lordosis has progressed to the point where it’s producing symptoms.
The goal when treating cervical lordosis is to restore healthy curvature. This means reducing curvature while stabilizing the surrounding area that has also been impacted by the unhealthy curvature. Ideally, you’ll be seeking care from a professional who is looking at your entire central nervous system as a whole instead of someone who is simply focused on putting a “bandage” on your neck pain. This is why treatments like massage and physical therapy can offer very important advantages over a regiment that simply focuses on pain management. In fact, a strategy for pain management that relies on pain medications instead of pursuing the underlying causes of the curvature can set a person up for a lifetime of dependency on pain medication while the condition grows worse.
Get Support for Cervical Lordosis
If something feels “off” with your neck, it’s time to come see the team at DE Integrative. Focused on your “whole body” wellness, we’ll work with you to get to the root cause of your neck pain. We offer therapeutic massage tailored for people dealing with cervical lordosis. If you’re in intense pain, you’ll be happy to know that research shows that deep-tissue massage is highly effective for providing short-term relief for acute neck pain. That means we can help you to feel better today while working on a plan for long-term healing and wellness. Call today for an appointment!