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?”