What Does Abnormal Spine Curve Mean?
What is considered normal and abnormal?
You will notice, if you are not a math guy like me, that the curve is smooth and curves toward the front. The best way to describe this is a curve that provides a natural support structure. You will notice that Para Olympic athletes, like amputees, have curves in their artificial limbs to provide support for running events. Once again it does not take rocket science to see that the spines in this diagram are abnormal. Whiplash injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents, sudden whipping of the head, or other injury types would create abnormal support structures, like those in the diagram, resulting in neck pain.
Why is "normal" so necessary to understand?
A particular study took 400 lateral cervical spine films for comparison. Not all the candidates could be considered "normal" as some had histories of accidents. The spread of patients tested included 252 subjects that had no symptoms; 237 men, and 163 women. Physicians concluded from the data that the x-ray position was consistent proving there is a "normal" curve in the cervical spine. So to answer the question, normal is necessary because without normal there is no abnormal. Ok, sarcasm aside, if we make the claim that an abnormally stressed structure creates pain, then normal has to be a known factor. Normal spinal curves are proven to provide the best support for your head. Good spinal structure is also important because it provides the support needed to disperse the weight of your body.
The effects of a non-"normal spine"?
If you place your head forward, your posture shifts and the position will increases the load on the disc tissue, narrows the canals where the spinal nerves are, increases muscular effort to support the head, and symptoms from the abnormal position of the spine eventually result. Some of those symptoms are: headaches, neck pain, upper back pain, arm pain, hand numbness and tingling, and a few other neck associated disorders.
In a related study about auto accident and whiplash patients, (Takeshima T, et al. Spine 2002;27:E48-E355, Abnormal Cervical Lordosis Can Cause Abnormal Cervical Kinematics (Movement), 5 groups of people sharing the same age, weight, height, sex and pain were examined. It was concluded that alterations in static alignment of the cervical curvature causes alterations in dynamic kinematics of the cervical spine during cervical flexion-extension.
It just makes sense that if you don't have normal movement patterns that the spine can't work the way it is supposed to!!!
When you are involved in a motor vehicle collision and you are told to get the proper treatment, you should realize that without improved curve in your spine you will continue to have symptoms, abnormal movement patterns, and problems with future structure failures. So, there is a normal, and there are consequences for abnormal. Make sure you get evaluated after your whiplash injury, or auto accident.
Dirk Woodmansee is a Utah Auto Accident Chiropractor that specializes in rehabilitating the spine after serious accidents, slips and falls, sports accidents, and pregnancy difficulties. http://www.woodmanseechiro.com
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