View Full Version : Cervical kyphosis

05-26-2014, 11:35 PM
Is cervival kyphosis common amongst scoliotic parients?

I had some cervical x-rays and now I can pretty much imagine why I have neck pain when I tilt my head.

For a long time I have slept without a pillow. I don't know exactly who suggested that but I was pretty small back then. Basically I was sleeping on a table(without the legs, placed on the bed and some soft stuff above) without a pillow. Actually I tried to sleep with a pillow but its not vert comfortable.

Now that I see the x-rays, even my limited anatomical knowledge from drawing lessons explains why I have pain when tilting the head. I know the neck has a natural lordosis like a natural suspension.

The radilogist said that the vertebrae are structurally intact, and the cervical region is rather compromised from a functional point of view.

It gives me fear even thinking how surgeons "correct" stuff like that.

Anyway. Is there anything to do when it comes to exercises? I can hardly tilt my head to my left because I get a sharp pain. What about computer position? Actually I have a tablet which I use mostly at home while lying, but my neck quickly gets fatigued, albeit its better than using the standard "ergonomical" solution invented for 95% of people. It makes me absolutely furious that they just forget about that small percentage that finds the traditional ergonomy uncomfortable....not many altfernative products on the market.

05-27-2014, 11:50 AM

I'm pretty sure that true cervical kyphosis is rare, not saying it never happens. I have a rather flat neck lacking the natural lordosis. When I have to tilt my head up very high, as in getting that last drop out of a soda can, I hold the back of my head to support the weight of the head rather than putting that strain and weight on my neck. It is painful otherwise.

Here's a couple of things that I do from experience and some from going to physical therapy.

Instead of using a pillow (regular pillows don't support the natural lordosis of the neck anyway), you can take a hand towel and roll it to whatever thickness of roll feels comfortable under your neck while laying on your back. It might not be very much at all. Don't let this discourage you. You can increase the thickness gradually. This advice comes from the PT that I've been to.

I also lack the normal lordosis in my lower back, although I have some. I have NO thoracic kyphosis. My back is basically sagittally straight like yours, although I can't see your cervical spine in your sagittal x-ray. However, putting support on my lumbar region causes pain while laying down for some reason. But lumbar support feels good while reclining. So I do support the lumbar when reclining sometimes.

I've recently discovered how to reduce neck pain and strain while using the computer. I use a laptop and sit in my adjustable bed that is adjusted just like a recliner so that I'm not laying down. My legs are elevated and so is my back. So using a reclining chair would give the same effect.

The next thing I've found is that a memory foam neck wrap (the kind of neck pillow used for travelling) works wonders. It HAS to be memory foam. As the foam heats up, it contours to YOUR shape. I place the computer in a position that is comfortable for ME, making sure not to block the ventilation system of the computer; but you said you use a tablet. Position it so that it is comfortable to you even if you have to put a pillow or something on your lap rather than trying to hold the tablet. I say this because holding it puts stress on your arms, which puts stress on your shoulders, in turn putting stress on your neck. The travel pillow also allows me to relax my head to one side or the other if my neck starts fatiguing while still keeping my head mostly upright.

I've also started using this travel pillow at night. It's sufficient alone if I sleep on my back. The point of this is to put the neck in a lordotic position while laying on your back. The memory foam flattens out enough to fit YOUR deformity while giving you a gentle lordotic support.

When I sleep on my side I also use a memory foam pillow positioned just under my head while still using the neck pillow. I also use a body pillow that I can drape one arm and leg over which keeps the whole spine in alignment. During side sleep you do NOT want your neck to sag. The head and neck have to be supported to keep the spine in proper alignment, thus the pillow under my head. This will help with not getting a painful kink in your neck in the morning. You don't just want head support on your side either. You need to keep the side of your neck supported, too. You don't want your neck to sag sideways by not giving it support. That's why I keep the neck pillow on. You may or may not have to work your way up to the neck pillow at night. Do NOT use a pillow and a neck pillow while laying on your back. That results in pushing your head forward.

They do make pillows that are shaped for support that can be used for back or side sleeping. I haven't tried one of these pillows so can't vouch for how well they work. But I haven't had regular morning neck pain since I've started doing what I've just described to you.

One more thing, NEVER sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleeping always causes your neck to be twisted which is very bad for your neck and can lead to a stiff and painful neck that can last for days. My husband is a stomach sleeper at times and this is what happens to him. If you have trouble breathing or with snoring while sleeping on your back, then sleep on your side.

For your bed, you need a bed that is neither too soft (to avoid hammocking) nor too hard (doesn't give your natural curves support and can actually flatten out your spine even more). For me personally, I'm most comfortable on a soft memory foam mattress. It's my opinion that everyone should use a memory foam to sleep on if possible. The degree of firmness that is comfortable probably has more to do with how heavy a person is. But that is just my opinion. You can find memory foam toppers to sleep on. A word of caution; if your mattress is old and worn out it WILL still hammock. The memory foam topper won't give you the desired supportive effect if you put it on a sagging mattress. So if your mattress is saggy and you can't afford a new one, you could keep the board and get a 4 to 6 inch (10 to 15 cm) memory foam topper and put it on top instead of the fluff that you have.

I have found these things to be very helpful with my neck pain and back pain in general. When I first started with the neck protocol it felt really awkward. Now I'm just glad I've figured some way to give myself the extra relief from some of my pain and am not comfortable without it. I hope it's helpful for you, too!


05-27-2014, 12:27 PM

Cervical kyphosis is relatively rare, but we probably see about 5-10 patients a year that require surgery. Many, if not most, also have scoliosis or a sagittal plane deformity in their back.

Before I started having back pain, I had neck pain. Radiographs revealed that I had loss of cervical lordosis. So, while I wasn't as severe as some, it was definitely a problem. To avoid the need for neck surgery, I have been doing cervical range of motion exercises every day for about 30 years. I also was able to return my neck to almost normal lordosis by using a traction technique. I would lie on my back on my bed, with my head hanging over the edge. It would take a while for my soft tissues to relax. Once I felt relaxed, I would stay in that position for another 5 minutes.

WARNING: If you've been diagnosed with cervical myelopathy, or if you have symptoms of myelopathy (dropping things, inability to button a shirt), I would avoid any cervical exercise until after you've seen an expert.


05-28-2014, 01:42 AM
Thanks for the suggestions. I still wait for the x-rays to get emailed me but its not an extreme cervical kyphosis. Its like a slightly reversed curve. I figured out that its a very very bad idea to sleep prone because the neck hurts the next day, so I never do. But sometimes I just get bored sleeping on my back and can't help it. My mattress is quite new. And I think it gives better support than a hard bed. I tried to sleep on the floor during summers but I didn't get any significant relief. I think that I'll try this towel trick. I tried this in 2012 and it felt quite weird. Probably I rolled too much towel. I'm rather intrigued to try a reclining chair.

05-28-2014, 06:01 PM
I REALLY love the memory foam travel pillow. It WILL conform to your neck contour and give you some support. I find it more comfortable to sleep with than the towel roll because there is support for the sides of my head making me fee more secure. Also, if I do roll on my side, I can adjust it to give my head and neck the support. I just usually use my pillow because it's there. I've woken up some mornings pillow free, though. But, PLEASE do invest in the body pillow. It's just as an important piece of "equipment" for keeping the spine in alignment. When I don't use it, I can barely move due to lower back pain and actually hurt so badly that I need help rolling over.

It's very easy to roll the towel too thick and then discard it during the night while you sleep.

I really hope you can get some pain relief during your sleep. If you can't afford a memory foam mattress topper right away, the neck pillow and body pillow are great places to start and are pretty inexpensive. Oh, and get rid of that board and sleep on your mattress if it's not sagging. You'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel if you do these simple things.

Sleep well my friend!