When you look at the human body at a glance, it appears that the neck bones are straight. Between the muscles, ligaments, tendons,organs, and spinal structure that makes up the body of the neck, it certainly looks that way. But a quick peek inside an optimally aligned spine shows us otherwise. The careful and deliberate design of the neck is, in reality, highly complex, much like the rest of the body.
The neck is what we call the cervical portion of the spine. To function optimally, the cervical spine needs to be at a curve. When the neck bones are completely straight, it is sometimes referred to as “military neck” and the clinical name for it is cervical alordosis.
When not in proper alignment, and when they have military neck, some patients can experience pain, headaches, muscle spasms, and many other types of discomforts. This is sometimes a tricky situation, however, because sometimes people with straight necks have no symptoms at all.
Whether there is pain present or not, we know that the spine cannot properly facilitate communication within the body when it’s misaligned. Lack of communication within the body is the root of all kinds of health issues, many of which we don’t even fully understand. Increasing alignment and therefore communications within the body is, in essence, the foundation of chiropractic care, and is necessary in every person.
There are a few ways that one can find themselves with a straight neck. Most of the time it is related to poor posture. Leaning forward to look at a computer screen or looking down at a phone or tablet for much of the day can wreak havoc on your posture, especially the cervical spine. In some cases, a severe instance of whiplash can cause military neck.
Most people won’t know if they have military neck unless they are x-rayed or cared for by a skilled chiropractor who can diagnose and treat it. Whatever the case, restoring a proper cervical curve takes time, care, and a lot of patience. Most chiropractors will recommend the following:
- Traction. Traction is basically the exercise of stretching the neck over a support of some type the encourage the cervical curve. Chiropractors have a variety of tools that we use to facilitate traction, and we can give personalized advice for what to do at home.
- Proper posture. Since military neck is largely a result of poor posture, it's wise to be careful of your posture while you are in the process of correcting your neck.
- Put down the electronics. This is related to posture, but it’s worth mentioning on its own. We spend so much time looking down at our phones and tablets today that our posture and necks are paying the price.
- Most importantly: Get adjusted regularly. A skilled chiropractor will be able to help support your full body as it regains its proper function.