Does a “Straight Neck” Cause Pain?

I have treated a lot of people over the years with neck pain who may of been to a previous chiro or searched Dr. google about neck pain and were made to believe their neck pain is as a result of losing the curve in their neck. Fortunately, there has been research done on the matter, at best it’s only a minor contributing factor, if at all. It’s also worth remembering degenerative changes are just normal age-related wear and tear, over time our bones will also change shape as a consequence of this, the curve in our neck will change accordingly. Unfortunately, many people end up spending a lot of time and money on getting treatment to fix their posture or neck curve that more than likely has very little to do with their neck pain and offers nothing more than the placebo effect.

There was a study in the prestigious European Spine Journal printed all the way back in 2007 that found there was no difference in neck curvature between people with neck pain and without neck pain, essentially people without neck pain have the same alignment as people with neck pain. Another study done in 2008 found there is no association between spinal curves and health, including pain.

Another study printed in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery & Research and found the cervical lordosis an increased curvature was not significantly different between symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. This was a systematic review which looks at the entire scope of all research done on the matter and is some of the strongest evidence research can provided.

There was another systematic review done in 2024 that look at thoracic posture i.e mid-back and found no association with mid back curvature, neck tilt and neck pain. Again, there was no difference between neck pain sufferers and people who don’t suffer from neck pain.

It’s worth remembering there are providers who use fixing alignment or posture more as a marketing gimmick to get people to commit to months of regular treatment in order to supposedly realign their spine. If most neck pain sufferers were aware their neck pain was a result of chronic muscle tension, stress and excessive hours sitting at the computer they may be a lot hesitant to commit to a treatment that doesn’t actually resolve these factors.

kieranfDoes a “Straight Neck” Cause Pain?