The Importance of the Cervical Curve

When looking at the neck from the left side, the cervical curve should look “C-shaped”, or lordotic. This develops when infants learn to lift and hold their head up while laying on their stomach and continues to progress when a child starts moving around on all fours.

When we bend our head forward and backward, the most active cervical vertebrae are the C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae that make up the mid-lower cervical spine. Therefore, this region normally “wears out” first, resulting in degenerative joint disease (DJD) and degenerative disk disease (DDD). This is part of the normal, natural aging process, and can flatten and/or reverse one’s cervical curve. However, trauma can significantly accelerate degeneration.

Among some practitioners and researchers, there has been speculation that abnormal cervical curvature may result in altered blood flow from the heart to the back of the brain.

A 2015 study looked specifically at the hemodynamics (the dynamics of blood flow) through the vertebral arteries in individuals with a normal vs. a flat or reversed cervical curve. The research team found an association between the loss of the normal cervical curvature and an alteration of the normal blood flow through the vertebral arteries that travel through small holes in the cervical vertebrae. In their conclusion, they commented on the importance of correcting the cervical curve in order to restore the altered flow of blood.

Altered blood flow through the vertebral arteries has also been implicated AS A risk FACTOR IN vertebral-basilar insufficiency (VBI) stroke. In addition, a flat or reversed cervical curve can increase tension on the vertebral arteries which may lead to weakening of the arterial wall making them more susceptible to injury and inflammation, which can cause the arteries to narrow, limiting blood flow to the back part of the brain.

One of the goals of chiropractic is to improve posture, which can include restoring the cervical lordotic curve. To accomplish this, your doctor of chiropractic may utilize several in-office and home-based therapies; however, please be patient as cervical lordosis retraining can take time!