The Four Types of Cervical Curves The alignment of the spine is the heart of chiropractic care. Understanding your overall spinal health can be determined by examining the cervical curve. The cervical curve consists of the first seven vertebrae in your spine, starting from the base of your skull at the C1 (atlas) vertebra and ending at your thoracic spine.

This is a problem area for many people and depending on the curve of your cervical spine, you may experience some painful symptoms. Longtime chiropractor, Dr. Sylvia Kim, D.C., has seen patients with varying curvatures in their neck. “The curvatures in the spine act as shock absorbers for various body parts,” she says. “If the correct curvatures are not present, the discs and joints will experience greater pressure.” To get a better idea of how this may feel (and don’t try this at home!), she says to, “imagine jumping off a ledge and landing on your feet, without bending your knees." Ouch!

What kind of curve do you have?

There are four different types of curvatures in the cervical spine—all of which can be determined through an X-ray. Dr. Sylvia explains the four different kinds of curves she has seen in patients:

Lordotic. This is a normal, healthy curvature in the neck—which is about 42 degrees when standing upright. Think of it as a c-shaped curve that faces the opposite way your nose points. (See the image below.)

Hypolordotic/Alordotic. This means that there is a decreased curve or no curve in the neck. In an X-ray, the neck may look straight. 

Reverse Curve/Kyphotic. This is a reverse curve—and the kind of curve you want to stay far, far away from. This means that your neck has completely lost its healthy curve and is now curving the opposite direction, connecting your thoracic and cervical curves.

“S” Curve. The hardest curve to correct, the “S” curve is when the spine has both a lordotic and kyphotic curve.

The Four Types of Cervical Curves

“An unhealthy curve can cause premature degeneration of the discs in the spine, as well as the joint spaces,” Dr. Sylvia states. “This degeneration could lead to neurological symptoms down the road, as well as premature arthritis and joint fusion.”