If any part of your spinal cord (cervical spine) loses one or all of its forward curves it is known as flat neck syndrome. This can stretch your paraspinal muscles, helping you to lean, bend, and turn your back. It can also affect your suboccipital muscles, helping you to turn your neck. When your neck loses its curve, the muscles in front of your neck are unstable. Some muscles may be extremely stretched.
These changes can cause symptoms like these:
Changes to the shape of your spine.
Stiffness in your neck or back.
Limited range of motion.
Pain in your neck, fingers, or toes.
In some cases, the neck moves in the opposite of its natural direction. That’s called a reversed neck curve or reverse cervical lordosis. It is also possible for the joint between the skull and the first bone of the neck to bend very forward (increasing flexibility). Too much bending in this area causes the whole spine to stretch too much.
What is reverse cervical lordosis?
‘Cervical lordosis’ describes the natural inward curvature at the neck. ‘Reverse cervical lordosis’ describes necks that bend in the opposite direction of a natural arc. It is a more extreme version of cervical hyperlordosis.
However, A natural neck curvature consists of a smooth, inward C-shaped arc of around 43°. This curve helps to:
Support the weight of the head.
Enable flexible motion.
Ensure alignment of the head above the pelvis.
People who lose this natural curve may have neck pain, stiffness, weakness, decreased mobility, headaches, or pain in the fingers or toes. When left untreated, the condition can worsen and lead to degeneration of the spinal vertebrae and the possible formation of osteophytes (‘bone spurs’).
What causes reverse cervical lordosis?
Following are the common causes of reverse cervical lordosis.
Posture – When standing, sitting (and working), or even sleeping can lead to a gradual weakening of the muscles supporting the head and neck.
Traumatic injury – High force impacts to the neck, such as during car accidents, slips, and falls
Disease or infection – degenerative disc disease, iatrogenic disorder, or congenital disorders.
How to treat it?
Most people with lordosis do not need treatment unless it is a serious condition. Treatment of lordosis will depend on how strong your curve is and the presence of other symptoms.
Treatment options include:
Medications, to reduce pain and inflammation.
Daily physical therapy, muscle strengthening, and range of motion.
Weight loss, to help stand.
Braces, for children and adolescents.
Surgery, in severe cases with neurological disorders.
Nutritional supplements such as vitamin D.
Why Is Flat Neck Syndrome Called Military Neck?
The “military neck” may make you think that this situation is only (or primarily) happening to the people of the service. Not at all. The name comes from the fact that people with cervical kyphosis tend to stand very straight as if they were vigilant soldiers.
However, If flat neck syndrome affects the way other parts of the spinal cord, a problem known as military strain can occur.
This is where the upper back is unusually flat. This condition can strain the spine and cause the bones to age. However, In severe cases, flat neck syndrome can cause paralysis or loss of the ability to walk. It can also cause you to lose control of your bladder and bowel movements.
What causes a military neck?
The most common cause of military neck is poor posture, either when awake or when sleeping. Poor posture can result from staring at the computer, occupational conditions, or repetitive movements. However, the condition can develop from other factors as well, such as:
Degenerative disc disease
As you grow older, your intervertebral discs begin to deteriorate. This causes the discs in your spine to grow thin and fall off.
However, This change in the spine can change the natural bend of your neck and cause imbalance due to the weight of your head. This disease usually progresses with difficulty as you grow older.
Some babies are born deformed or have abnormal spinal cord development. The spine may not be fully formed, or the bones may grow into a triangular shape. When this happens, the bones are not properly packed, which can cause the neck to bend forward.
This condition is a type of arthritis of the neck. As your discs deteriorate with increasing age, your bones begin to rub against each other and break down. This causes the spine to bend, your head tilted forward, and your neck bent. However, Deterioration of the discs can also lead to arthritis.
The military neck can be iatrogenic, which means it is an unintended consequence of a medical procedure. The most common of these procedures is a laminectomy, which is performed to relieve stress on the spine.
However, removing the lamina creates more nerve space, but can also cause facet joints between the vertebrae to become unstable. This problem is more common in children undergoing surgery, compared with adults. Iatrogenic disorders may also result from ineffective cervical spinal cord injury, in which case the connection is too short.
These disorders are the ones that occur from birth, also known as birth defects. Those with congenital cervical kyphosis often have problems with other parts of the body, such as urinary retention or kidney failure.
However, When the military neck is the result of birth defects, such as a completely unstable spine, the spine grows abnormally and the vertebrae form a triangular shape as they grow. This puts an unnatural curve in the neck and the accumulated vertebrae.
There are various types of injuries that can cause trauma, including a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury. However, Compression may cause the vertebrae to recoil from the vertebrae, creating instability. In severe cases, you may experience neurological problems from a narrowing of the spinal cord, called spinal stenosis. Pressure can cause numbness, pain, and muscle weakness.
What are the Possible Complications?
If military neck or cervical kyphosis is not treated, it can cause serious problems with your mobility, posture, vision, and spinal health. It can cause problems such as:
Flat neck syndrome can usually put a lot of pressure on the nuchal ligament. That is the muscle that sets limits on how far you can go with your head. It is located at the back of your neck, starting at the back of the skull, and extending to the last bone of the cervical spine.
If you have flat neck syndrome, you may be injured. If you are unable to move freely, your spine cannot absorb the shock. Because the condition is not always painful, you may not realize your limitations until a serious injury occurs.
Spinal cord injury
Sometimes flat neck syndrome can damage even the spine itself. Also, you may experience the following symptoms:
Pain and pressure in the neck
Numbness or tingling in the skull
5 common Military Neck Treatments:
The treatment for the military neck involves managing your symptoms and correcting the spine.
Some of the most common treatments are physical therapy, neck braces, and painkillers. Unless the neck curve compresses the spine, for which a doctor may recommend surgery. However, The most common surgery for cervical kyphosis is spinal manipulation. For at-home treatments, your doctor or physical therapist may recommend that you do the following:
Relax your neck. Avoid activities that make your neck stiff.
Chin tuck. Doing chin tucks at home may also help heal your condition.
Straighten your neck. A special contour pillow can help to properly position your neck while you sleep; slide the inside of your pillowcase to support the curve of your neck. Your provider may also recommend using certain positions to help reduce arm pain that comes out of your neck.
Apply ice. Ice packs and ice bags can help alleviate pain. Your doctor or physical therapist will probably suggest using the ice for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. You can also massage the area by rubbing an ice cup or ice cube on the sore spot.
Apply heat. A heating pad, hot pack, or hot bath or shower can all be beneficial. Heat often works best when applied for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Other common Treatments:
Flat neck syndrome can often be treated successfully with some other range of options including these:
A physical therapist can help you perform exercises to correct your posture, strengthen your muscles, and restore some curves in your cervical spine. However, The only exercise that is usually referred to as the cervical vertebrae function. It involves gently pulling your chin down and pulling your neck back in a diagonal motion. It should feel like you are stretching your neck from the ceiling behind you.
A physiotherapist or doctor can also treat your neck with a pull. Pulling uses a brace, sling, or other devices to lift your neck so that there is more space between your spinal cord. That can take a toll on the arteries, too.
Massage will not cure a military neck. Studies have shown, however, that it can bring temporary relief from neck pain. For that reason, it may be a good additional treatment while taking steps to solve the problem.
The purpose of the surgery is to relieve pressure on the spine and nerves, to stop your pain, and to help you stand, move, and move forward in a normal way.
However, To do this, the surgeon may join some small bones in your neck with small screws or plates (vertebral fusion). Another option may be to remove a small portion of the bone from your neck (osteotomy).
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