There is a backward curvature in the neck, which is called “cervical lordosis” in medical language, and when it is called flattening of the neck, a decrease in this curvature is meant and it is a common problem with the increase in sedentary lifestyle today. In this problem, which is especially seen in individuals who do not exercise regularly and do not move, the cervical spine area loses its unique curvature and flexibility. As a result, a decrease in the quality of life is observed as mobility is restricted, but the problem of neck flattening can be prevented with regular exercises and healthy lifestyle changes.
What Is Neck Flattening?
The human spine consists of 33 vertebrae, 7 of which are located in the neck region. Spinal health is important for maintaining vital functions, and this includes the health of the cervical vertebrae. Under normal conditions, the spine has a curved shape, with slight hollows in the neck and lumbar regions and slight protrusions in the thoracic and sacral regions. This special structure helps to preserve mobility and provide support for the body.
In the case of cervical kyphosis, the curve in the neck vertebrae, which are normally hollow, disappears and is replaced by a straight line. The straightening of the mild “C”-shaped curve means a decrease in quality of life. In some advanced cases, the straightened vertebrae may curve in the opposite direction and protrude, causing more serious problems.
Symptoms Of Neck Flattening
As a result of neck flattening, disruptions occur in the anatomical structure and continuity of function in the neck. These conditions develop with various clinical symptoms. Spinal curvature causes the spinal cord to be under pressure and may cause various neurological problems. In general, the symptoms observed with neck straightening are as follows:
- Restriction in neck movements
- Loss of strength in the neck muscles
- Numbness or tingling in the hand and arm
- Neck pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty when looking forwards
- Lower back pain
- Paralysis of a part of the body
- Difficulty urinating or defecating
Why Does Neck Flattening Occur?
In flattening of the neck, the musculoskeletal system in this area undergoes anatomical changes, and many diseases can be counted among the conditions that cause this. In particular, the following conditions are factors that increase the risk of neck flattening:
Bad Posture Habits
Bad posture habits that are continued for a long time can eventually lead to straightening of the cervical vertebrae. A sedentary lifestyle, office work standards, and long periods of looking at a screen or phone are all too risky for spinal health. Especially if these bad posture habits that are maintained during the spinal development period are not corrected in time, they can lead to permanent straightening problems in the future.
Hereditary Developmental Problems
In some cases, congenital developmental disorders are observed in the spine, and as a result, the “S”-shaped curve that normally occurs in the spine is deformed. In addition to spinal problems such as kyphosis and scoliosis, cervical kyphosis is also one of the problems observed in these types of cases.
Vertebrae With Abnormal Structure
As a result of abnormal development of the cervical vertebrae, the special curve in this area may disappear and neck flattening may occur.
Especially advanced age and the post-menopausal period in women increase the risk of osteoporosis, i.e. the development of osteoporosis. As a result, weakening and loss of strength may occur in the cervical vertebrae and deformities may also be observed.
Degenerative Disc Disorders
Disc disorders that develop due to age and various diseases increase the risk of neck flattening. When the discs between the vertebrae are damaged for any reason, structural form changes may occur in the cervical vertebrae.
There is a risk of cervical kyphosis in cases of hard and high-intensity blows to the neck region. As a result of these traumas, damage can occur to the muscles, bones, or ligaments in the area; as a result, the mobility of the neck is lost and the problem of straightening occurs due to excessive strains.
Especially in cancers that affect bones and the spine, there is a risk of cervical kyphosis. The same risk is also present in cancers that occur in different parts of the body but metastasize to the spine and bones.
In addition to these, muscular dystrophies that affect muscle structure and development, Paget’s disease, tumor formations in different parts of the body, or situations where the structure of the spine is damaged as a result of various surgical interventions also increase the risk of developing cervical kyphosis.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Neck Flattening
The treatment of cervical kyphosis begins with a medical history and a detailed physical examination. In some cases, imaging tests such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
It is important to eliminate the risk factors of cervical kyphosis and to eliminate the conditions that may cause this problem in the future. For this, the most important thing that is recommended is to exercise regularly and adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Regular exercise helps to strengthen the muscles in the neck area, relax the vertebrae, and prevent possible nerve compression problems. Regular exercise is especially important for people who experience neck stiffness or pain on a regular basis.
In patients diagnosed with cervical kyphosis, the initial treatment is to use medications that help to relieve muscle spasms and to relax the area. In addition, it is recommended to apply physical therapy exercises to relieve pain and to improve flexibility in the area. In addition, various applications that can help in the treatment of muscle spasm and pain in cervical kyphosis can be tried. These applications include:
- Neural Therapy
- Dry Needling
- Ozone Therapy
In general, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and adopting correct postural habits can prevent the development of various spine-related problems as well as neck flattening. Regular exercises such as yoga and pilates or light brisk walks can improve general health and protect spinal health. Therefore, it is important to acquire the necessary exercise habits at an early stage to prevent the risk of neck flattening.