Symptoms and treatments of spinal curvature problems

Ross Hauser, MD, Brian Hutcheson DC.

For many patients we see, who have issues of chronic pain and neurological symptoms, they come into the first visit us with an understanding that something is wrong with the curve of their neck and spine. They also have an understanding that it is this curve problem, whether their spines curve inwards too much or that they lost the natural curvature of the spine that is a cause of their problems. But the curvature of the spine is a complex problem and many of our patients who come in have reduced their understanding of this problem, and rightfully so, to how it impacts their daily lives. The goal of this article is to help you understand the impact of spinal curvature and how correcting these problems will help alleviate or even eliminate pain and neurological symptoms that have plagued you for years, even decades.

I have symptoms, I think it is related to the curve of my spine.

Let’s look at some of the types of emails and questions we get asked. In these emails and discussions a patient will acknowledge symptoms first, then a diagnosis of a spinal curve problem. This is probably the way you describe yourself.

I have a lot of neck issues, chronic, long-term problems with muscle spasms, I have a hard time rotating my head and when I do my neck makes horrible crunching and grinding noises. When I try to look down or look up I get a burning sensation, when I look to the left or right I get a numbness sensation. I have an MRI that says my neck has moved into an “S” shape, the curve is off.

I suffer from hearing loss in my left ear, I have a long-standing diagnosis of Meniere’s disease. My other symptoms include vertigo, a complete loss of sense of balance, fatigue, and I am having vision problems that border on hallucinogenic and I see shadows and have a sense of distorted reality. I have had upper cervical adjustments among many other treatments. I was diagnosis with C1, C2, C3, C4 subluxation, the vertebrae I am told are floating around in my neck. This is causing C1 nerve compression. I have also been told I have a reverse curve in my spine.

I have so many symptoms and diagnoses. I had an MRI of my entire spine. I was told that despite my bulging discs, cervical stenosis and lumbar stenosis, osteoarthritis and bone spurs, and loss of cervical curve, I should not be experiencing my problems to the degree I do and that my MRI is typical of aging and degenerative disc disease. I do not even know how to proceed anymore.

I have chronic neck pain, headachesswallowing difficulties, I feel fain which I know is coming from vasoconstriction. I have numbness down my arms, loss of sensation, vision problems, and burning mouth. During my treatments, I was told I have significant cervical misalignment or a reverse curve.

More rare is the patient who recognizes who emails us

I have a military neck causing dizziness and headaches. I am seeking treatment to return my neck to a normal curvature position and a natural neck curve.

The curvatures of the neck

In our practice we see problems of cervical spine instability caused by damaged or weakened cervical spine ligaments. With ligament weakness or laxity, the cervical vertebrae move out of place and progress into problems of chronic pain and neurological symptoms by distorting the natural curve of the spine. This illustration demonstrates the progression from Lordotic to Military to Kyphotic to "S" shape curve.

In our practice, we see problems of cervical spine instability caused by damaged or weakened cervical spine ligaments. With ligament weakness or laxity, the cervical vertebrae move out of place and progress into problems of chronic pain and neurological symptoms by distorting the natural curve of the spine. This illustration demonstrates the progression from Lordotic to Military to Kyphotic to “S” shape curve.

The C7 Slope 

In this illustration we can see what happens when the C7 slope becomes too steep and the head moves forward. Stretching or ligament looseness or laxity can cause the problems of head forward position as head forward position can cause further dames to the cervical spine ligaments. It is a cause and effect cycle, you have head forward because of weak ligaments and you have weak ligaments because of forward head posture, the stresses of this problem are manifest at the C2-C7 vertabrae. 

In this illustration, we can see what happens when the C7 slope becomes too steep and the head moves forward. Stretching or ligament looseness or laxity can cause problems of head forward position as head forward position can cause further dames to the cervical spine ligaments. It is a cause and effect cycle, you have your head forward because of weak ligaments and you have weak ligaments because of forward head posture, the stresses of this problem are manifest at the C2-C7 vertabrae. 

The curvature transition at C7-T1 Cervicothoracic Junction

Repairing the ligaments and curve for a long-term fix

The goal of our treatment is to repair and strengthen the cervical ligaments and get your head back in alignment with the shoulders in a normal posture. In this illustration we see the before an after of neck curve corrections. Ligament laxity or looseness or damage, whether the cause is from trauma, genetic as in cases of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, ultimately causes a kyphotic force on the cervical spine, stretching the posterior ligament complex of the neck. As can be seen in the x-rays of this image, patients with a whiplash injury, Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can have their cervical curve restored with Prolotherapy Injections and the use of head and chest weights, documented below.

In this illustration, we see the before and after of neck curve corrections. Ligament laxity or looseness or damage, whether the cause is from trauma, genetic as in cases of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, ultimately causes a kyphotic force on the cervical spine, stretching the posterior ligament complex of the neck. As can be seen in the x-rays of this image, patients with a whiplash injury, Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can have their cervical curve restored with Prolotherapy Injections and the use of head and chest weights.

At the start of this article, we stated that few people contact us describing their problems as one of a loss of spinal curvature. What they do contact us about is the many symptoms they are suffering from including chronic pain and neurological symptoms.

For information more specific to your symptoms, please visit these articles as they relate to you:

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