Your neck has a very distinct curvature. It’s similar to the shape of a banana, and measures approximately 42-degrees. It’s designed to provide shock absorption and support for the weight of your head, which can weigh up to 14-lbs.
Here’s a little experiment I’d like for you to try… Find a banana, straighten it, and then bend it in the opposite direction… You’ll soon find it’s not a pretty sight.
Within the middle of your spine is the spinal cord and some fairly important blood vessels. If a soft, flexible and squishy banana can’t handle bending-type forces, imagine what happens to your body when the rigid bones of your spine compromise the critical nerve fibers and blood vessels they’re supposed to protect!
Now, the x-ray on the right demonstrates a reversed cervical curve. Common sense would suggest that this patient would have some degree of neck pain… but he doesn’t! Instead, he has a history of high blood pressure and chronic lower back pain! He’s had multiple disc surgeries in the lumbar spine, as well as a total hip replacement before the age of 55… Sadly, these procedures haven’t provided any long-term relief.
An intact cervical curve is vital to proper spinal motion. Your entire spine will adapt, bend, and twist in a variety of different ways to compensate for what’s going on within your neck. If a problem in this area remains uncorrected, the spine will never function optimally. This can lead to degenerative wear-and-tear within the rest of the skeletal structure, and many times drive a person towards a life of chronic pain medication and surgery.
For additional information on this topic, check out this blog post from my archives entitled How Misalignments in the Neck Can Cause Pain Throughout the Entire Spine.
UPDATE 2015: Here’s a comprehensive description of reversed cervical curves, courtesy of Dr. Zachary Ward: “I have a reversed cervical curve. Is this a problem? Can you fix it?”
I have a reversed cervical curve of 22 degrees. I am 24 years old and also have degenerative scoliosis in the thorasic area. I am not able to work nor am i able to clean my house. I go this week to see an orthopedic. I just think that I am to young to have to deal with this type of thing. I am scared that my only relief will be surgery. Everyone that I have talked to says that once you get neck or back surgery you end up under the knife muliple times after. I am just looking for advice from people who have dealt with the same thing. Thanks
I have a reversed curve of -17 degress but no scoliosis. As far a my neck goes my PT/chiropractor put me on a program to strenghten and stretch my neck and upper back and also uses a device called a posture pump to make my neck assume the natural curve shape. I won’t know if it has helped for another two weeks or not once I view the new xrays but I’ll try to post back. Good luck!
Hi Allie, I just received a posture pump to try and correct a reversed curve. How has yours been working?
I’m scared too! Mine is completely reversed and is VERY painful! I used to find limited relief from a chiropractor but I lost my insurance so I just have to live with it. I can feel my spinal cord stretching, it’s a hot pain that sears down my entire back into my tail bone. I was diagnosed at age 20 and I am now 29. It deteriorated very quickly. If you have the opportunity to get it fixed, by all means get it done! I can’t work, haven’t for 3 years now, but it isn’t “bad enough” to get disability for, according to the SSA. There are days I can’t walk on my own, don’t wait, fix it now!
I recently found out I have reverse cervical. After years of chronic pain. I have had shoulder surgery with little relief from pain. Been on heavy narcotics for about two years. And list my great job do to this pain. I finally went to a wonderful chiropractor that took the time to listen to me and took X-rays. Explained to me what was happening to my neck and why the pain. Only problem he wants $6,000 to help me. Which I do not have since no job and husband has been laid off also since Feb. I wrote because when I saw X-ray I really had to look to see if that was mine. Looked exactly the same with red pen. I lay here in pain not being able to move head. I’m only 41 and I feel like I’m an older woman. My life has spiraled downward and I feel sorry for my children.
Nicole, have you considered getting a 2nd or 3rd opinion? Not all chiropractors charge $6,000 for care… there may be a much more affordable solution in your area – perhaps an office with a sliding fee scale, or one that accepts Care Credit.
I just found out that i have a reverse curvature…..i cant afford to fix it….if you can, do it now….im 22 but i have been like that since 7
I also have a reverse curature, I am 63 yrs old, i fell out of a tree when i was a kid , but when i fell I hit a clothes line on the way down which hit on the front of my neck, which has to be when it started.
I have had problems the last 10 yrs.
I have alot of pressure to my head which causes headaches, tennitus, also my neck and shoulders tightening up which i feel causes my high blood pressure, memory loss, and sleep apnea ( which i use a c-pap machine,but cause problems because the strap on the unit cause my neck to tighten up.
I go to a chiropractror once a month and he got me a posture pump, which i have just started using which i think in trhe long run will help me, but will take a long time to fix but will help from getting worse.
All i can say is do something because it only gets worse, but I would stay away from surgey if you can. Massage and keeping it loose and relaxed. Wish I knew this years ago.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Faye. I wish you well in your recovery.
Dr. Tanase, great website!
I just wanted to add a comment to the many people suffering yet cannot afford the care they sought. Please keep looking! There are many Chiropractors who charge affordable fees, especially for cash paying clients. Don’t let one quote stop you from living the life you deserve. Be Well!
I just found out I have reversal of cervical curvature. I also have a bulging disk putting pressure on my spine. Facet disease, lumbar problems. I could go on. I can’t walk right. That came on suddenly. Not a lot of pain, just my legs are heavy and stiff at times. I walk funny,can’t move right. When I get up from sitting sometimes my neck and shoulders feel so heavy they almost bring me down, and they hurt. But it only lasts about a min. then it feels better. I get such pain sometimes in my middle back with stiffness too that it really scares me. I wonder if a lot of my problems come from my reversal. I am told I have cervical mylopathy too. Anyone offer advise? I’m scared to have surgery. I have mild congenital cervical spinal stenosis. Anterior listhesis on c5 on c4 by 2-3 mm.
I do have this Reverse curve neck injury and have seen chiropractors, however it’s very painful and not yet corrected. Altho I did have some luck with the pro adjuster. Living in Denver and looking for permananet relief any suggestions? Thank you.
I have this reverse curve in my neck and scoliosis in my lower back. I’ve been to 3 different chiropractors and have even considered seeing a pain management doctor. I’m 21 years old and am experiencing way to much pain to where at times I don’t even want to get out of bed. So my question is what do I do to fix this if the chiropractors haven’t been able to help?
Alyssa, if you’d like to take a pic of your neck x-ray and email them to me, I’d be happy to take a look.
Could you?! That would be so great. What is your email?
Of course, send it to me here: email@example.com
I have resently been to the chiropractor for back pain and was asked about headaches and so he took x rays of my neck i also have arevered curve and ialso do not have seven bones in my neck Ihave six the other fused with the other so I’m not sure what that means Iget told my pain is arthritis and I’ve been told to get asecond opinion
I don’t know the degree of curvature to my neck spine…but what I do know is it HURTS badly…I’ve never heard of a posture pump what is this…my chiropractor said to get a towel roll it and place it a the base of my neck and it will start the process of trying to get my neck right where it needs to be…I need a great pillow and possibly a mattress what brand would you choose?
Katie, I have two articles on pillows and mattresses.
Pillows – https://drtanase.com/2010/01/26/my-opinion-on-6-types-of-sleeping-pillows/
Mattresses – https://drtanase.com/2012/02/13/whats-the-best-type-of-mattress/
Dear Dr Tanase
I have a reversed neck curve which seems more serious than the picture above. I have went to two chiropractors and some other doctors. Some said it is very serious while other said that it is not too bad. I am 26 years old and I always feel a “cold” feeling on the top of my head, together with headache a bit dizzle. These bad feelings become worse after sitting for some time, and relief when laying down or walking. There is no noticiable pain in my neck, only feels stiffness. Any advices? Thanks!
By the way I have bought the latex pillow you suggested and it is the best pillow I have ever used. Thanks!
(Pillow link – http://amzn.to/1zBUsMM)
Patrick, in addition to receiving chiropractic care, I would begin working on improving your posture. Here’s a helpful DVD that teaches you what stretches and exercises you can do at home – http://amzn.to/1u9jrBF
If you’d like to discuss your case in more detail, you may find this option beneficial – https://drtanase.com/telephone-consultations/
Wow, what a fantastic page you’ve made! I browsed through all of the pillows and mattresses you rec’d which were incredibly helpful! I’ve had mod-severe neck pain and finally went to see a chiropractor. I am a critical care nurse and thought the entire time that it was related to work somehow, so I kept getting massage after massage without any long term relief. Although I was very skeptical of chiropractors at first, I cant live without mine now! I encourage all of my coworkers to see my chiropractor! Thank you for making such an informative page!
I have a minor car accident recently & a subsequent x-ray showed that I have a curve reversal. I haven’t been suffering from severe neck pain before, just occasional soreness and tightness & am healthy in general, is it logical to attribute the curve reversal to the accident? Is it possible to identify from an x-ray how long that curve reversal has existed? Thanks.
Motor vehicle accidents can create enough force to alter a cervical curve. And while it’s possible that your incident was the event that lead to the current state of your spine, it’s not guaranteed.
Certain degenerative changes can be observed on x-rays indicating/suggesting a time period when structural stress began.
Dear Doctor Tanase,
Thank you for this article! For years I have been wondering why my lower back always hurt (or feels heavy). I was always ordered to get x-rays around my lower back and nothing came back out of the ordinary.
I recently had a series of severe headaches, and this is when one doctor had me do an x-ray of my neck. As you may guess, i was also diagnosed with Reversed Cervical Curve.
Thank you for all your help here!
Our family members have a reverse curvature of the neck. Is this a hereditary disease?
In my opinion, no.
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