Cervical Kyphosis

Early last week, I visited the Toledo Clinic for some neck X-rays, as ordered by my chiropractor.

Now, I’d like to deviate from the story before I even start, because I need to express how much I love my chiropractor. Her name is Connie Smith, her practice is First Choice Chiropractic in Toledo, and if you live in the area and need a chiropractor, I highly recommend you go see her. She is not one of the sheisty ambulance-chasers that many people think about when they think “chiropractor.” She’s what some call a “mixer,” as in she mixes traditional chiropractic practices with mainstream medicine. She orders up X-rays as needed, knows her business, and doesn’t push any of the hippie-dippy stuff (although, if you’re into holistic medicine or acupuncture, I understand that those services are available).

So, now that we have that out of the way, on with our story.

I went to see Dr. Smith the Friday after my x-rays were taken, to review with her what the radiologist had found regarding my now-chronic neck pain. I had assumed that it was directly related to the whiplash accident back in April — turns out that it may be indirectly related, but isn’t necessarily attributable to whiplash.

First off, my neck doesn’t curve backwards like a “normal” neck. It’s straight. If it were curving forward, that would be assumed to be whiplash-related. (I wish I had an x-ray of my neck prior to the accident, though.)

Second, C5 is slightly out of alignment — what chiropractors apparently call a subluxation, but what the radiologist identified as a “mild kyphosis at C5-6.” Dr. Smith ordered me to do neck retractions (sticking my head back like a turtle) multiple times a day, and she gave me a pamphlet on subluxation.

She also noted that my facet /fuh-’SET/ joints are deteriorating, as evidenced by the white areas inside the vertebrae, and that basically means I’m in the early stages of arthritis. Welcome to middle age.

When I got home, being the researching fool that I am, I Googled subluxation and discovered that this concept is one reason why chiropractors are typically seen as more hippie-dippy and less medical. The radiology report refers to a “straightening of cervical lordosis” and “mild kyphosis,” but never once mentions subluxation. There’s a reason for that: the medical term has a different definition than the chiropractic term, which is interesting.

She didn’t mention anything about the bits in her pamphlet about what other bodily systems my C5 subluxation could be affecting; I understood her to use the term to mean that my C5 was out of alignment. I’m not going to concern myself with the idea that my C5 may be affecting my esophagus, coronary arteries, or lungs. Instead, I’ll just trust that she’ll keep me in alignment as best she can, and send me to another specialist if need be.

Weird chiropractic jargon aside, I find it interesting that I didn’t have an issue with cervical kyphosis or my C5 until the accident. Even though whiplash isn’t indicated as a cause of the problems, I’m inclined to think it was a major factor.

Tack one on to my list of minor physical complaints. Oh, well.

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