Background: Cervical lordosis has been shown to be an important outcome of care; however, few conservative methods of rehabilitating sagittal cervical alignment have been reported.
Objective: To study whether a seated, retracted, extended, and compressed position would cause tension in the anterior cervical ligament, anterior disk, and muscle structures, and thereby restore cervical lordosis or increase the curvature in patients with loss of the cervical lordosis.
Study design: Nonrandomized, prospective, clinical control trial.
Methods: Thirty preselected patients, after diagnostic screening for tolerance to cervical extension with compression, were treated for the first 3 weeks of care using cervical manipulation and a new type of cervical extension-compression traction (vertical weight applied to the subject's forehead in the sitting position with a transverse load at the area of kyphosis). Pretreatment and posttreatment Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) pain ratings were compared along with pretreatment and posttreatment lateral cervical radiographs analyzed with the posterior tangent method for changes in alignment. Results are compared to a control group of 33 subjects receiving no treatment and matched for age, sex, weight, height, and pain.
Results: Control subjects reported no change in VAS pain ratings and had no statistical significant change in segmental or global cervical alignment on comparative lateral cervical radiographs (difference in all angle mean values < 1.3 degrees ) repeated an average of 8.5 months later. For the traction group, VAS ratings were 4.1 pretreatment and 1.1 posttreatment. On comparative lateral cervical radiographs repeated after an average of 38 visits over 14.6 weeks, 10 angles and 2 distances showed statistically significant improvements, including anterior head weight bearing (mean improvement of 11 mm), Cobb angle at C2-C7 (mean improvement of -13.6 degrees ), and the angle of intersection of the posterior tangents at C2-C7 (mean improvement of 17.9 degrees ). Twenty-one (70%) of the treatment group subjects were followed for an additional 14 months; improvements in cervical lordosis and anterior weight bearing were maintained.
Conclusions: Chiropractic biophysics (CBP) technique's extension-compression 2-way cervical traction combined with spinal manipulation decreased chronic neck pain intensity and improved cervical lordosis in 38 visits over 14.6 weeks, as indicated by increases in segmental and global cervical alignment. Anterior head weight-bearing was reduced by 11 mm; Cobb angles averaged an increase of 13 degrees to 14 degrees; and the angle of intersection of posterior tangents on C2 and C7 averaged 17.9 degrees of improvement.