Did you know one out of three people is affected by neck pain at least once a year? If you struggle with frequent neck pain, it’s important to get to the root of the problem to treat it.
And, the best way to do that is by getting an x-ray. But, exactly what does a healthy neck x-ray look like? And what can you do to correct any alignment problems you might have?
If you want to learn the answer to these questions, and more, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about neck x-rays. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What Type of X-Ray Should You Get?
Depending on your condition and symptoms, a specialist might recommend a variety of x-ray shots to get a full picture.
But, typically if you’re having neck problems you’ll get a lateral cervical neck x-ray. With this method, electromagnetic energy beams reveal the bones on the side of your neck.
In some cases, your doctor may also recommend an AP cervical x-ray. This method reveals the internal bones of the neck from front to back.
When you combine both of these x rays you get a pretty good idea of what the neck alignment is like.
Signs of a Healthy Neck X-Ray
There are some telltale signs of a healthy neck when you pass x-ray beams through it. First, when looking at your neck either from the front or back the alignment should be straight.
However, when you turn the x-ray to the side you’re looking for something else. The side shot of the neck should have a flowing C shape to it.
You see, the neck area is made up of seven vertebrae: C1 through C7. C7, the bone at the base of the neck starts slightly out. By the time it reaches C1 t the base of your skull, it will make a backward C shape.
When we think about posture, we normally idealize straight lines. However, the reality is that this C curve in the neck is vital for a range of motion functions.
Signs of an Unhealthy Neck X-Ray
We mentioned that a healthy neck x-ray should show a backward C curvature. But what does an unhealthy neck x-ray look like? Generally, there are two other ways it can go. The first is a loss of cervical curve.
This occurs when the neck vertebrae form a straight line instead of a curve. Sometimes the line is so straight you could probably draw it with a ruler.
This type of straight-line neck can be uncomfortable and painful on certain days. However, real problems start to arise if you don’t get it treated. When this happens the straight line shifts inward.
This in turn creates a reverse curve. It’s shifted into a curve that forms the shape of C. But, you’re leaning forward with it. The condition is known as cervical kyphosis.
And, if you have it, there will be no doubt that you have neck discomfort. The pain associated with this condition can be excruciating.
The key is to treat your neck conditions the second you notice regular pain. That way, it doesn’t worsen into cervical kyphosis.
What Causes Poor Neck Alignment?
There are a variety of things that can cause poor neck alignment. Sometimes it’s just the little things that we do each day.
Some examples include sitting at a computer, talking on the phone for hours, bad posture at your desk, carrying a heavy bag, texting, and being in one position for too long.
At first, these everyday activities don’t do damage. But, if you continue them day after day, they’ll eventually hurt your neck alignment. The other way you can hurt your neck is through trauma.
One common example is whiplash following a car accident. However, you can also hurt your neck in fights or from falling.
What Can You Do to Improve It?
There are a variety of postural exercises that you can do to help with neck alignment. One good one is head retractions. This is when you retract your head back. Hold that position for ten to twenty seconds and then release.
Repeat this a few times per day. You should also be aware of your posture. Are you spending hours a day hunched over your computer? Consider getting an ergonomic chair.
Or, schedule regular walks and breaks during the workday. You might also want to go to a chiropractor or massage service to get some relief.
When Should You See a Specialist?
At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do about your neck pain by yourself. So, how do you know when you need to go to a professional? There are a few signs. First, if you’re getting older, you should see one.
You should also see one if you get an injury and the pain isn’t going away. It’s possible that bone injuries could be causing the pain. Finally, see a doctor if the pain isn’t going away by itself.
Speaking of pain, you should also go if the pain is so bad that it’s keeping you from sleeping or working. If you still aren’t sure whether or not you should go, then check out this guide to read about a neck specialist.
Appreciate Learning About Neck X-Rays? Keep Reading
We hope this article helped you answer the question, What does a healthy neck x-ray look like? While it’s important to know what x-rays are showing you, you should still always get an opinion from a medical professional.
That can help you understand what type of specific problems your neck is presenting you. We hope you found this guide informative. Keep exploring to learn more about subjects like this on our website.