While the entire spine system, including the neck, possesses natural curves from the base of the skull to the sacrum -- or the tail bone -- it is not uncommon for people to progressively lose this curvature as they age. Because of this, some people seek the care of a chiropractor in an attempt to reverse this curve.
Cervical lordosis -- or a curve with the concave side facing backwards -- is the normal curve of the neck that develops in early childhood. Changes that occur to this curve, as evaluated on X-ray, are often the result of the normal aging process but may also be accelerated by poor postures.
You may have been told that the curve in your neck has reduced, straightened or reversed. Fortunately, these changes, according to a study published in 2009 in the "European Spine Journal," rarely correlate to the pain and clinical symptoms that you may be suffering from.
Spinal Manipulation and Rehabilitation
Most chiropractors use spinal manipulative therapy as their primary treatment tool, however, today there is an increased trend toward the use of rehabilitative exercise in patient management. This bodes well if you're suffering from a neck disorder because if you're still uncomfortable with neck adjustments, the addition of simple exercises will likely help alleviate your symptoms more rapidly.
The Role of the Upper Back
Since the neck sits directly atop the upper back, or the thoracic spine, spinal manipulation of this region may help if you're suffering from a neck disorder. According to a study published in 2008 in "Physical Therapy," thoracic spinal manipulation combined with general range of motion exercises of the neck helped to decrease pain more than exercise alone.
Additionally, you may also find relief by improving the endurance of the deep muscles of your neck as well, and this can be performed with a simple exercise like the chin tuck hold. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat three to five times.
Upper Back Mobility and Neck Strengthening
Ultimately, the goal is to improve the mobility of the upper back while strengthening and stretching the neck. While chiropractic care may or may not reverse the curves resulting from the normal aging process, it may help reduce neck symptoms commonly resulting from poor posture.
- "European Spine Journal"; Does the Sagittal Alignment of the Cervical Spine Have an Impact on Disk Degeneration? Minimum 10-Year Follow-Up of Asymptomatic Volunteers; Okada, E. et al; Jul. 2009
- "Physical Therapy"; Examination of a Clinical Prediction Rule to Identify Patients With Neck Pain Likely to Benefit From Thoracic Spine Thrust Manipulation and a General Cervical Range of Motion Exercise: Multi-Center Randomized Clinical Trial; Cleland, J.; Sept. 2010