Is Chiropractic the only way to restore curve to someones neck?
Jen Howe, MPT, FMCHC, NBC-HWC (Physical Therapist and Health Coach)
I am here to support you in your wellness journey. Together we uncover areas of your life that need attention and develop healthy habits to help you reach your fullest potential and feel amazing.
I feel like there are many ways to restore a more "normal" curve to your neck. First step however would be to figure out what caused the curve of the neck to change in the first place and change that first. This might be weak core and neck muscles with poor posture, a workstation that isn't set up correctly, or habitual movements. Of course, there are always things like a car accident that we can't really change once it has happened.
The curve of the spine is controlled by the muscles, shape of the bones, ligaments, fascia and neurological system. Often time successful treatment includes lengthening tight muscles (suboccipitals, pecs, lats) and fascia, strengthening weak muscles (core, deep neck flexors, upper back) as well as addressing stiffness in the joints of the spine that may be holding one in non-ideal posture.
The last thing to remember is that we are all unique beings and our spinal curves will be different than the person next to us. While there is a spinal curve that is considered "normal" it is not something everyone will have. The important thing is to feel strong and balanced in your body.
Evidence based spinal corrective approach to align the spine and posture into its proper position to improve health.
Great question! With my patients, I use Chiropractic Biophysics to analyze and correct the cervical curvature through chiropractic adjustments, exercises, and traction specifically for the neck curve. If you wanted to learn more about Chiropractic Biophysics, visit www.idealspine.com. If you wanted to learn more from myself, feel free to email me at [email protected].
When looking at the research, the only known way that is based off of X-ray analysis, is specific traction based on where the misalignment of the spine is. In randomized controlled trials, one group received the cervical denneroll along with stretching, mobilization, and therapies while the other group received everything except for the cervical denneroll. The cervical denneroll is an orthotic device used to get curve in the neck. The group that did not receive the denneroll got not correction of the neck curve, while the group that did receive the cervical denneroll received on average 12 degrees of curve correction. Not only that, the curve remained even with 6 month, 1 year, and 2 year follow ups. There have been numerous studies on this that I referenced below to help with people that have cervicogenic dizziness, radiculopathy (pinched nerve), neck pain, low back pain, disc bulge, and more.
Chiropractic manipulation unfortunately has not been shown to make any changes in the neck curve. Does that mean changes can never happen - no. It just means that if you want more predictable and reliable results, incorporating Chiropractic Biophysics is necessary to make changes in conjunction with other therapies. Lastly, muscle spasm and tight muscle has also been shown to not be correlated with any change of the neck curve. A study was done where people contracted their neck to mimic a muscle spasm/tight muscles and no change was observed on the X-ray. I hope this helps!
(1) Moustafa, I.M., Diab, A.A., Hegazy, F. et al. Does improvement towards a normal cervical sagittal configuration aid in the management of cervical myofascial pain syndrome: a 1- year randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 19, 396 (2018) doi:10.1186/s12891-018-2317-y
(2)Addition of a Sagittal Cervical Posture Corrective Orthotic Device to a Multimodal Rehabilitation Program Improves Short- and Long-Term Outcomes in Patients With Discogenic Cervical Radiculopathy
Moustafa, Ibrahim M. et al.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Volume 97, Issue 12, 2034 - 2044
(3)Moustafa IM, Diab AA, Harrison DE. The effect of normalizing the sagittal cervical configuration on dizziness, neck pain, and cervicocephalic kinesthetic sensibility: a 1-year randomized controlled study. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med 2017;53:57-71. DOI: 10.23736/S1973-9087.16.04179-4
(4)Diab, Aliaa Attiah Mohamed, and Ibrahim Moustafa Moustafa. “The Efficacy of Lumbar Extension Traction for Sagittal Alignment in Mechanical Low Back Pain: A Randomized Trial.” Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, vol. 26, no. 2, 2013, pp. 213–220., doi:10.3233/bmr-130372.
(5) Fedorchuk CA et al. Impact of Isometric Contraction of Anterior Cervical Muscles on Cervical Lordosis. J Radiol Case Rep. 2016 Sep 30;10(9):13-25. eCollection 2016 Sep.
Approach the WHOLE YOU releasing chronic & systemic compensation patterns for lifelong healing. Remove the Issues from your tissues TODAY.
Hi Susan, With a therapeutic approach of molding the connection tissue/myofascial network in a very specific directionality, the natural curves can begin restoring themselves very quickly in just a few hours. One cannot work the cervical curve alone without first addressing the fullness in the Thorasic ribcage, the Primary curve of the spine. Few modalities approach internal space or aligning around a broadening ribcage which can ultimately be the most important space for organ function, respiration, & allowing the spine to hold itself up with effortless ease- all of which would help restore cervical. I teach a therapeutic alignment which allows the muscular/soft tissue network to tone in a uniformly balanced way, across the entire skeleton. This model of ‘tensegrity’ takes unnecessary pressure off the entire joint system, including each spinal vertebrae, and allow for a more suspended LIGHTNESS throughout the entire structure, this actually kicks off a systemic healing cascade so the body begins to regulate itself. My clients are amazed at how quickly they get results AND how they learn such basic ways of moving through space - think sit, stand, walk all day long with this alignment- which unlike a workout or a chiropractic session, stays with you outside of the gym & off the table to change & train your normal day to day movement patterning. Reach out if you are curious to know more. My approach is a game changer, hands down.
I help my clients to regain Youthful Posture and Vitality utilizing the Rolf Method of Structural Integration.
It is actually the fascia, which is a connective tissue, that gives shape to the body. If this soft tissue is worked with appropriately, the bones will take care of themselves. During a Rolfing session, we have the opportunity to address any sort of structural asymmetries and restore proper range of motion. In the midst of this fascial work it may also release any sort of trauma which has been otherwise buried in the subconscious as a cellular memory.
As a Holistic Health Practitioner, I work with all aspects of a person's being and help people overcome severe emotional trauma, mental illness, and physical dis-ease; creating vitality and happiness.
As Dr. Lehrer has pointed out, subconscious posturing and tension is the root cause for many structural misalignments. This is why many people get a massage one day only to find that the tension has returned a couple days later. And, while reversing or silencing signals from the subconscious can be tricky, there are several approaches for accomplishing such shifts today.
Ultimately, the subconscious program(s) needs addressing in some way or another. Hypnosis, unfolding emotional trauma, theta wave subconscious reprogramming, meditation, and other exercises all have the ability of shifting subconscious stress and tension. I personally enjoy doing a Migun bed session while meditating or listening to my body, and releasing the trauma and mental programs that have accompanied the physical tension.
I also create theta wave affirmations with my clients that directly address and reprogram the subconscious.
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Whether it's restoring your neck curve or the entire spinal curvature (scoliosis, lordosis) it's important to realize that the bones don't control themselves or create the curvatures... The imbalanced tight muscles do... And the nerves control the muscles... And the brain controls the nerves... And the subconscious memory controls the brain. This is all in the medical physiology texts. And though my field of Chiropractic can bring more mobility and improve curves, I see most people flip back... However, when you get to the reasons/causes the subconscious memory is telling the muscles to tighten up (like fighting a bear or running from a tiger) the muscles relax, balance out symmetrically, and realign the spine to the correct healthy curve and posture.
Importantly, the subconscious memory records every stress, trauma, thought, feeling and belief that gets put into it (even inherits), thus, in my experience updating the subconscious memory and releasing this trauma, wounding and stresses causing the abnormal spinal curves is the best method I've found in getting the body to restore the natural curves in the spine, neck and back. And potentially stay that way!
An honored body can move with ease, has sustainable energy and is able to process stress efficiently.
In my humble opinion, no. Although I am a believer in the effective treatment of chiropractic care, I have also found personally and through my clients' experiences, that a chronic issue will require the reeducation of the tissues around the area. Complementing chiropractic with massage, acupressure, CST, or PT will create lasting changes to the neck. As we age, work a desk, even after what seems like a minor accident, the body becomes reliant on compensations which eventually can cause pain or more trauma. Reeducating the tissue to function with the newly aligned bone and connective structures will ensure that old habits don't pull the body back into a compensation pattern. Also, there are gentler, less invasive ways than chiropractic is that's also a concern (CST, for one).
Hope that was helpful and happy to continue the discussion!