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The shape of a structure is often just as important as the material from which it is made. In architecture, for example, the most important shape is the triangle. Because of its strength, the triangle is heavily relied on by both architects and engineers.

I’ve realized that chiropractors and architects have a lot in common—except that, as a Doctor of Chiropractic, I am more concerned with the strongest shapes found in nature.

Early scientists and mathematicians believed that there was something intrinsically perfect and divine about circles. We know, of course, that the circle is the strongest three dimensional shape found in nature. In circles, stress cannot be concentrated on any one particular point; it is always distributed equally along an arc.

The neck was designed to curve in such a way to provide this type of shock absorption. The shape of the neck also makes it possible to support the head. A side view of a healthy neck should show a curve of about 40-60 degrees.

When the cervical (neck) spine is within the ‘normal’ range of curvature, the neck is able to support the head with very little effort. When the cervical spine is misaligned, it can lead to innumerable health problems—even early mortality. Without a healthy neck curvature (also known as a cervical lordosis), the spinal cord cannot remain soft, which disturbs the flow of blood and nerves to the rest of the body.

Neck pain is one way that the body alerts us that there is a problem in the curvature of the neck. Chiropractic can help.

What causes neck pain?

On a basic level, the pain in your neck is caused by inflammation. I’m guessing your next question is: what causes the inflammation? When the cervical spine is misaligned because of poor posture, normal movement of the neck is altered, leading to inflammation and, ultimately, pain.

Poor posture actually changes the shape and position of the neck curve. This can be the result of  aging, lifestyle, routine activities, or injuries and accidents. For example, many people experience whiplash following an auto accident. The sudden forward and backward movement of the head causes injury and sometimes abnormalities in the curvature of the neck. Sitting in front of a computer all day can have the same effect over time.

It’s pretty easy to understand why it is so important for the neck to be in the optimal position. The human head weighs about eight to ten pounds; when bad posture or other factors force the loss or reversal in the normal curvature of the neck, the spine experiences the head as exponentially heavier. This puts abnormal amounts of stress on the muscles and bones of the neck. With this new pressure, osteoblast cells in the bones activate growth and begin to form bone spurs. Neck pain is a result of this inflammatory process. Ultimately, it can lead to a more serious pain condition, such as arthritis.

Should I care about the curvature of my neck if I’m not experiencing any pain?

Yes. It is extremely important to maintain the health of your spine despite whatever symptoms you may or may not be experiencing. Remember, the purpose of the cervical spine is to contain and protect the spinal cord. It is through this conduit that every signal between the body and the brain passes. While neck pain is not always experienced, it is certain that other health concerns are present if the cervical spine is not properly aligned.

At Monmouth Spine and Rehabilitation Center, the Doctors of Chiropractic view the body as a complete system—much in the way that architects must build with the total physical structure in mind. We practice a specific type of chiropractic known as Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP) which is centered on total spinal alignment and optimal posture.

Monmouth Spine and Rehabilitation Center also incorporates more traditional chiropractic techniques as well as physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. If you are experiencing neck pain, feel free to visit our office for a free consultation