Loss of Curves and Spinal Degeneration
This week’s blog article is going over one of the foundational studies supporting Chiropractic BioPhysics technique goal of restoring a “normal” cervical lordosis. The first step in any technique is figuring out where your baseline is. I define baseline in the sense of cervical lordosis as the following; what is the normal value that would represent the average population’s measurement for normal, pain-free and healthy. There are many of these numbers in the healthcare field and they often have somewhat of a range for ‘normal’. There is a normal blood pressure range, normal cholesterol levels, normal BMI, normal heart rate, normal levels of testosterone or estrogen in the body.
In establishing a ‘normal’ cervical lordosis measurement range, the authors in this study looked at over 277 lateral cervical radiographs to measure both the degree of cervical lordosis and the amount of forward head posture. The authors found that there was a significant correlation between neck complaints and cervical lordosis less than 20 degrees. Knowing these facts allowed the authors a starting point for understanding what a normal cervical curve may look like. Knowing that there are more complaints when the cervical lordosis is less than 20 degrees allows us to know that the cervical curve should not ‘normally’ be less than 20 degrees. The authors concluded that, “found a statistically significant association between cervical pain and lordosis <20° and a “clinically normal” range for cervical lordosis of 31° to 40°. Maintenance of a lordosis in the range of 31° to 40° could be a clinical goal for chiropractic treatment.”
There are various things that can cause the neck curve to deviate away from its normal alignment. The amount of technology usage in the modern day is causing an epidemic of poor posture and neck pain. Slow changes can occur with prolonged looking down at phones, computers and tablets. The muscles and ligament on the anterior portions of the neck become contracted and shorten. While on the posterior aspect of the neck, the muscles and ligaments are stretched and elongated, becoming chronically tight and painful. Sudden causes of cervical misalignment are easy to understand and identify. Misalignment can be caused suddenly by falling hard while snowboarding (or playing various other sports activities), getting in a car collision or various other falls and slams that can happen throughout life. These types of injury may cause initial pain that subsides after a while. However, the injury lingers around if it is left unfixed and can cause issues later in adult life.
There is another study published more recently looking at the sagittal alignment of the lumbar spine and its effect on disc degeneration. This study was done in 2016 on asymptomatic individuals. The authors concluded that, “The Roussouly subtype II sagittal alignment is significantly associated with disc degeneration at L4-L5 in asymptomatic young adults. Our results support the hypothesis that spinal sagittal alignment plays a role in early disc degeneration.” The Roussouly subtype II spinal alignment in depicted in the picture below from the research paper. The lumbar sagittal spinal alignment is reduced or flattened.
Whether changes occur slowly over time or suddenly, the ultimate result is degeneration and decreased range of motion, among other various possible complaints, in the cervical spine and other areas of the spine. An injured cervical spine will have a negative impact on how the nervous system is going to function. Since the nervous system is critical to the proper functioning of all other systems in the body, it is crucial to identify and correct spinal misalignment as soon as possible.
To get started with the best plan for you, visit our pricing page to decide which option will work best for you. At Complete Health Chiropractic Littleton, we like to make care appropriate and affordable for the entire family. We know how vitally important it is to have the spine and nervous system functioning appropriately in order to create health in your life.
Menezes-Reis, R., Bonugli, G. P., Dalto, V. F., Carlos Fernando Pereira Da Silva Herrero, Defino, H. L., & Nogueira-Barbosa, M. H. (2016). Association Between Lumbar Spine Sagittal Alignment and L4-L5 Disc Degeneration Among Asymptomatic Young Adults. Spine, 41(18). doi:10.1097/brs.0000000000001568
Mcaviney, J., Schulz, D., Bock, R., Harrison, D. E., & Holland, B. (2005). Determining the Relationship Between Cervical Lordosis and Neck Complaints. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics,28(3), 187-193. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2005.02.015