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What Is Cervical Lordosis?

Cervical lordosis refers to the normal curve of the neck vertebrae.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2014
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Cervical lordosis is a curve in the cervical spine, the area of the spine which contains the neck vertebrae. This curve is entirely normal and in fact desirable because it helps to stabilize the head and spine, but when the curve straightens out, becomes too deep, or faces in the wrong direction, it can become a problem. There are several treatments available for loss of cervical lordosis, with treatment being supervised by a medical professional who specializes in spinal care.

In a healthy spine, the cervical lordosis looks like a very wide C, with the C pointing toward the back of the neck. This can begin to straighten in a condition called cervical kyphosis, in which the curve straightens up or even bows in the other direction. Sometimes this is referred to as “reverse lordosis,” referencing the fact that the spine is still curved, but the curve is now running in the wrong direction. People can experience fatigue, strange head positioning, and other symptoms as a result of variations in the healthy cervical lordosis.

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Some people experience problems in the cervical spine as a result of inherited conditions. In other cases, it can be caused by injury, stress, strain, poor posture, or poor positioning. The earlier the problem is caught, the more treatment options are available, and the less likely complications will be. Alterations to normal cervical lordosis can be diagnosed with a regular physical exam, and with the assistance of tools such as medical imaging studies to view the spine.

One option may be physical therapy to strengthen the spine, potentially paired with exercises which are designed to encourage people to improve their posture and positioning. Things like support pillows for sleeping can be used to stabilize the neck while someone sleeps with the goal of arresting the damage. Bracing can also be an option for people with abnormal cervical lordosis, with the brace holding the spine in alignment.

For some patients, it may be necessary to perform surgery. Surgery for spinal fusion can address abnormal curvature by fusing the cervical vertebrae so that they cannot drift out of place, for example. Surgery is generally considered as a last resort because it can be risky, and the patient may experience permanent lifestyle changes. Fusion, for example, makes it difficult to turn the head and may make people vulnerable to injury because the spine loses some of its flexibility and elasticity.

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anon325507
Post 7

I'm a victim of domestic violence. My husband choked me many times. He's now in prison for killing his girlfriend. I've been on permanent disability for seven years now. There are seven things wrong with my neck. Could domestic violence have anything to do with my neck? It started when I was 36 and now I'm almost 46.

anon272467
Post 6

Kyphosis and lordosis are different from scoliosis, and are managed differently. There have been several excellent studies trying to find evidence that straightening of the cervical spine can be caused by pain. They have come up negative. People vary in how straight their spines are, with the cervical spine becoming more lordotic with age.

So in patients with neck pain and straight spines, the evidence says that the straight spine has nothing to do with the pain, and does not need to be "corrected".

anon156462
Post 5

The only physician who can correct a spine is a Chiropractor. I have friends who have had surgery and friends who have gone to the chiropractor, and the ones who went to the chiropractor all got better, the ones who went for surgery all got worse!

anon145084
Post 4

If I were to do physical exercises daily that 'would' help my cervical spine get back to normal, how long do you think it would take? --Yuuki

afterall
Post 3

I have a co worker who had disc surgery on her back a few years ago, and she said it was a huge ordeal. She had a lot of pain even with prescription painkillers, and had trouble moving around for months afterward. While sometimes surgery is necessary, it is definitely something that should be through through a lot before you decide to do it, and many doctors believe that no one should consider back surgery unless it is unavoidable.

BambooForest
Post 2

@FernValley While there are many different ways of treating spines that are curved incorrectly, I have also known people to have the best results from chiropractic care, provided their curvature was not too extreme.

FernValley
Post 1

While I don't know much about cervical spine lordosis, reverse lordosis, or kyphosis sounds very similar to scoliosis, which I suffered as an adolescent. Like kyphosis, many scoliosis sufferers have problems with posture, flexibility, and pain. While my own scoliosis was not very pronounced when found, and could be fixed with regular chiropractic appointments, I knew people who needed surgery or back braces. At the same time, people I knew who went these routes did not always have great success; braces especially didn't seem to work well. I imagine physical therapy would be more preferable, were one's reverse lordosis not too serious.

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