What is military neck?

Cervical Kyphosis

What is military neck?

A healthy neck has a “C” curve (lordosis) when you see it from the side and the curve rolls forward from the bottom of the cervical spine and curves back again halfway up to the head. the healthy neck has approximately 30 to 40 degrees of the curve. Taking its name from the idea that military people stand perfectly straight and tall, “military neck” is a slang term for the loss of the “C” curve in the neck. The military neck is also known as cervical kyphosis or straight neck. In rarer forms, a backward curve develops in the neck.

What symptoms does military neck cause?

The following symptoms can accompany military neck:

  • stiffness
  • decreased range of motion
  • headaches
  • pain in the neck and the extremities (fingers and toes)
  • coordination problems
  • muscle weakness
  • spine deformity
  • paralysis
  • bladder and bowel control issues

Not everyone with military neck will experience the same symptoms. Paralysis, bladder control issues, and bowel control issues are only present in extreme cases, especially when the condition is left untreated.

What Causes Military Neck

What causes military neck?

The most common cause of military neck is poor posture, either when awake or when sleeping. Poor posture can result from staring at the computer, occupational conditions, or repetitive movements. However, the condition can develop from other factors as well, such as:

Degenerative disc disease

As you age, your intervertebral discs begin to degenerate. This causes the discs in your spine to grow thin and collapse.
This change to the spine can alter your neck’s natural curvature and cause an imbalance due to the weight of your head. Degenerative disc disease usually increases in severity as you get older.

Iatrogenic disorder

Military neck can be iatrogenic, meaning it’s an unintended result of a medical procedure. The most common of these procedures is a laminectomy, which is performed to relieve pressure in the spine.
Removing the lamina creates more space for nerves, but it can also cause the facet joints between the vertebrae to be unstable. This complication is seen most often in children who undergo the procedure, as opposed to adults. The iatrogenic disorder can also arise from an unsuccessful cervical spine fusion, in which the fusion is too short.

Congenital disorder

A congenital disorder is one that occurs from birth, otherwise known as a birth defect. Those whose cervical kyphosis is congenital usually have complications in other parts of the body as well, such as urinary or kidney defects.
When military neck is a result of a congenital disorder, such as the spine not forming completely, the spine grows abnormally and the vertebrae create a triangle shape as they grow. This places an unnatural curve on the neck and stacked vertebrae.


Trauma can also cause military neck. Different types of injuries can cause trauma, including a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury. If the ligaments fracture or tear, the spine can curve forward and the spinal cavity might narrow.
The compression might cause the body of the vertebrae to heal in the shape of a wedge, creating an imbalance. In serious cases, you might experience neurological problems from the narrowing of the spinal canal, called spinal stenosis. Compressed pressure can cause numbness, pain, and muscle weakness.

Help Military Neck

How Can York Rehab Clinic Help To Treat Your Military Neck Syndrome?

Fortunately, many of the symptoms of military neck syndrome are treatable. To treat military neck syndrome, Osteopathy typically uses the Cervical Osteopathy Technique, a system of precise, manual adjustments to correct spinal misalignments.

During a Cervical Osteopathy Technique, your Osteopath will use a digital X-ray or cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scan to determine the exact angle of misalignment along the lordotic curve. Using this information, your Osteopath will be able to perform a series of precise manual adjustments around the affected area, correcting abnormal angulation along the spine and encouraging the body to restore the spine’s natural curvature.

If you suffer from military neck syndrome, To book an appointment with York rehab clinic in Richmond Hill, call (416) 350-1940.