Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What is Military Neck?

What is Military Neck?

Military neck doesn't come with the uniform!

Have you ever heard of "military neck?" Actually, it has nothing to do with problems in your neck caused by active or past military service. It has to do with the straightening of the natural curve in your neck. It's called military neck because the condition, also known as straight neck or cervical kyphosis, resembles the standing up straight and tall posture of a soldier standing at attention.

The normal neck has a forward curve, called a lordosis, which from a side view looks like the letter C. This curve is designed to support the weight of your head and to facilitate movement. If there is just a mild loss of this curvature, you probably won't even become aware of it because there are usually no symptoms.

If curvature loss is significant, however, you might experience symptoms such as neck pain/stiffness, shoulder pain and headaches. Loss of proper nerve function as a result of this condition can interfere with communication links between the brain and the body. Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers might eliminate painful symptoms, but pain will return as soon as the pain reliever wears off. That's because they don't address the cause of the condition.

What causes military neck? Whiplash injuries, poor posture, repetitive movements and occupational conditions, such as looking down at a computer screen all day, can certainly contribute to this condition.

Is it possible to regain the proper C curve once you lose it? Perhaps, depending on a number of factors, such as the degree of curvature lost, whether there is disc degeneration or osteoarthritis in the neck, and how well you cooperate with the recommendations of your chiropractor! It can take some time, however, so patience is needed. You lose the curve over time so it can take time to regain it.

Chiropractic adjustments, along with neck extension, strengthening and stretching exercises can help relieve pain in the short term and, hopefully, resolve the condition in the long term.


  1. I had no idea what miitary neck was or if it was curable. Thanks for your clarification.

  2. Hi, I've been told I have military neck and it's been awful. I do have some osteoarthritis and I do not take pain meds. I rotate my head all day and try to rest my head every chance I get. What can I do to improve this. I'm only 42 and can't hold my head up straight for more than 10 mins without pain. I've never had whiplash. Is this hopeless?

  3. Hi Nikki,

    It is not hopeless. Chiropractic can definitely help you reduce your pain. You can also try stretching and strengthening exercises to loosen the neck and surrounding muscles and to strengthen the muscles to better support the head. Make sure you have a good pillow that supports the neck and head and keeps the spine straight and not tilted up or down when you sleep. You can call us at 651-484-0151 and we can help if you live close otherwise Google chiropractors in your area. I hope this helps Nikki and have a great day! ~Dr Doug

  4. Hello.. im kia and was told today that i have a military neck.. ive been experiencing the symptoms mentioned.. what exercise can you recommend for me? Can i have a chiropractic treatment even without a doctors prescription?