Symptoms and treatments of spinal curvature problems

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 diagnosis. 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.

  • Dr. Brian Hutcheson begins this video by explaining the basic and most common measurements that are used in radiology textbooks to help understand the integrity of the spine and analyze whether a patient has a proper and normal cervical curve.

The C7 Slope 

  • At 0:23 – The C7 slope is the interface between the cervical spine and the thoracic spine. (The juncture of C7/T1). If the angle at C7 is too steep, this will lead to a forward head posture and stress on the cervical spine.
    • Numerous papers have demonstrated  significant relationships between C2–7,T1 Sagittal vertical axis (the plumb line between neck and trunk that demonstrates if you are holding your head in the correct upright position) and C2–7/T1 lordosis
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 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. 

  • At 0:50 the impact of C7 flat slope on the thoracic spine curve
    • If the C7 slope is flat that means the spine has lost its curve and in addition to problems further upper the cervical spine, a flat C7 slope can also cause a flattening or straightening of the thoracic spine curve.
    • The curvature transition at C7-T1 Cervicothoracic Junction. The cervical spine has a backward curvature or lordosis, at the C7/T1 transition the spine reverses itself into kyphosis or forward curvature of the thoracic spine.
    • The spine is so much stronger when all the curves or lordosis is correct, that would be Cervical lordosis; Thoracic kyphosis; Lumbar lordosis. Proper curvature of the spine maintains the spine’s spring-like structure. When the curve of the spine is lost, the spring-like protection is lost and the spine becomes subject to fractures, degenerative disc disease, and for many people the symptoms described above.

The curvature transition at C7-T1 Cervicothoracic Junction

  • The lordosis or backward curvature of the cervical spine reverses into kyphosis or forward curvature of the thoracic spine.

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 article as they relate to you:

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