Cervical lordosis is a curve in the cervical spine, the area of the spine which contains the neck vertebrae. This curve is entirely normal and in fact desirable because it helps to stabilize the head and spine, but when the curve straightens out, becomes too deep, or faces in the wrong direction, it can become a problem. There are several treatments available for loss of cervical lordosis, with treatment being supervised by a medical professional who specializes in spinal care.
In a healthy spine, the cervical lordosis looks like a very wide C, with the C pointing toward the back of the neck. This can begin to straighten in a condition called cervical kyphosis, in which the curve straightens up or even bows in the other direction. Sometimes this is referred to as “reverse lordosis,” referencing the fact that the spine is still curved, but the curve is now running in the wrong direction. People can experience fatigue, strange head positioning, and other symptoms as a result of variations in the healthy cervical lordosis.
Some people experience problems in the cervical spine as a result of inherited conditions. In other cases, it can be caused by injury, stress, strain, poor posture, or poor positioning. The earlier the problem is caught, the more treatment options are available, and the less likely complications will be. Alterations to normal cervical lordosis can be diagnosed with a regular physical exam, and with the assistance of tools such as medical imaging studies to view the spine.
One option may be physical therapy to strengthen the spine, potentially paired with exercises which are designed to encourage people to improve their posture and positioning. Things like support pillows for sleeping can be used to stabilize the neck while someone sleeps with the goal of arresting the damage. Bracing can also be an option for people with abnormal cervical lordosis, with the brace holding the spine in alignment.
For some patients, it may be necessary to perform surgery. Surgery for spinal fusion can address abnormal curvature by fusing the cervical vertebrae so that they cannot drift out of place, for example. Surgery is generally considered as a last resort because it can be risky, and the patient may experience permanent lifestyle changes. Fusion, for example, makes it difficult to turn the head and may make people vulnerable to injury because the spine loses some of its flexibility and elasticity.