My Not So Normal Spine

Because my neck pain wasn’t improving on Tuesday, I decided to see a chiropractor to make sure I didn’t do any serious damage.  There’s something different about hurting your neck than any other part of the body and I was starting to get anxious.  I also think looking up neck injuries on WebMD was making me overly paranoid…I don’t recommend doing that.

Luckily my friend Pam was able to recommend a local chiropractor that she has been seeing who has helped her improve her running, and I was able to get an appointment that afternoon.  He started by checking my vitals and reflexes, then did some neurological tests to make sure there weren’t any other issues that this pain was causing.  All seemed fine.  He then felt the left side of my neck where the pain is centralized and immediately said it was VERY tender, and boy that hurt to have him pushing around!  Before doing any adjustments, he wanted me to get x-rays to see exactly what was going on.

So Wednesday, I got up bright and early to get x-rays taken and returned to the office that evening for the news…the news that my cervical spine (neck) is all sorts of messed up!  Take a look:

A normal cervical spine has a natural curve to it as seen in the photo on the left.  This keeps the head properly balanced and helps maintain good posture.  My cervical spine has no curve to it…lovely.  The lack of a curve pushes my head down and has the muscles in the back of my neck constantly engaged which puts stress on that area.

Now take a look at this awesome image of my neck from straight on…can you say crooked?!?

Oh Hello Crooked Neck!

Seriously, it looks like my neck is about to pop off my body!  And look how much higher my right shoulder is from my left.  I’m just a hot mess.  All of this is most likely an underlying issue that was exacerbated by my injury on Monday, so in a way I can look at this injury as a good thing.  I wouldn’t have gotten this checked out otherwise.

I’ve gone for two adjustments so far and I’m already starting to feel better.  Hopefully with a few more and some rest I will be good as new.  Once the acute problem of my neck pain is under control, I will begin to work on my posture and evening my shoulders out.  In the long run, this will make me a better runner as I will use my body more efficiently.  Now that I something I’m looking forward too!  Sadly, CrossFit might be on hold for me for a while, but I would really like to keep at it since it is the one cross training program I actually enjoy.  I just need to stop pushing myself so hard!

Have you fixed your posture to make you a more efficient runner?

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  • while reading this I immediately sat up a little taller and pushed my shoulders back! LOL. Geeze, at least you found out this info and can start improving it. I hope you get to stick with CrossFit too! Did your doctor tell you anything about that?

  • I’m glad to hear you’re able to get treatment, Lord knows I wish I could!!!! I know exactly what you go through!!! My neck is almost exactly like yours (side & front view) except…..mine is straight up until the last 2 vertebra & then it curves in the opposite direction that a normal spine should, So not only do I have the pain & all that goes with a straight spine but I also have the little extra from the curve of the wrong direction. I have tried chiropractors & massage therapy, however, my muscles stay so tender that the pain is to much to let them do anything. I have a VERY high tolerance to pain, but this is beyond my thresh hold. Same goes for my back…it’s even worse. I also have degenerative, herniated & bulging disks of the neck & back. I’ve been told since 2003 at the age of 21 I needed back surgery, but I refused because I watched my father go through 15…YES, 15 of them. However now at 35, I can barely move without feeling like I’m being electrocuted either from the base of my scull down my arms & hands or my L5S1 down both legs to my feet. I have to move slow when turning cause when it hits, I literally drop to my knees. I get laughed at by everyone when I SNEEZE because of the position I have to get in…that is the most excruciating pain if I don’t get into that position soon enough. I’m a good sport about it though, I laugh at myself along with those who laugh at me. HAHA BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR TREATMENT!!!

  • Hi since this article was written two years ago I am inquiring on whether or not you felt your treatments were helpful. I am now enrolled at a chiropractor and trying to figure out if it is worth the expense. Was your chiro a maximized living chiro?

    • Hi Mary!
      I’m not sure what a maximized living chiro is, but the treatments did help with my injury. However I discontinued treatment after a few weeks because of the expense and I felt that regular visits were unnecessary. I’ve been trying to work on posture and flexibility on my own to avid having those frequent visits. I haven’t had a need to go back since.

    • Mary,
      I have the same issue and am not taking it lightly at all. The doctor told me that it is a degenerative condition that is much deeper than simply posture. The changes force muscles to clamp more tightly and suppress nerves, reducing oxygen and blood flow. Although I’m extremely healthy and active, the harder I am on my body, the more harm I’m doing. The once a week treatment for a few months may save me the calcium build up and eventual surgery. My own illnesses that I thought were not related are indeed related including stomach, anxiety, TMJ, and vertebrae tightened so much by overcorrection habits that they move out of place. The correct move forward for me is to train my body and muscles NOT to over correct. Blowing it off is not advised and I work 3 jobs to hold on. Hope this helps.

  • i have the same problem! i went to the chiropractor but the treatment was going to cost 1600 !!!! i was in yoga too, it crooked neck makes it difficult to breath in my chest without pain. i have a pretty strong core, but i think this also causes my sciatic nerve to hurt and cause my left leg to fall asleep easily. i wish i could afford the treatment. it did help a lot. if you can afford to go to the chiropractor and massage, and acupuncture i would highly recommend it. they all work together to loosen the muscles up so the bones can go back in their propers place.

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