Jen Atkin Shared That She Has "Military Neck"—and It Sounds Painful
She was yawning at her desk and heard a pop.
Hopefully your week is going better than Jen Atkin's. The celebrity hairstylist just shared on Instagram that she's been dealing with a literal pain in the neck. (Related: Is Cracking Your Neck Dangerous?)
Atkin revealed that she's had to bail on a bachelorette party and other fun plans because she's dealing with a condition called military neck. "I literally did a yawn stretch at my desk yesterday and heard a pop," she wrote on her Instagram Stories. "My whole neck shoulder and back spasm'd and I couldn't move."
After heading to the doctor and getting X-rays and an MRI, she was told that she had military neck. Not only that, Atkin found out that the condition has been the reason behind neck and shoulder pain that she's been experiencing for months, she explained.
ICYDK, cervical kyphosis, AKA military neck, is when the cervical spine—a part of your neck that houses the spinal cord and is made up of seven vertebral segments, muscle tissue, and nerves—becomes straight, which can cause a herniation and put pressure on the joints of the spine. "When we look at a healthy person's spine from the side, whether left or right, the spine should not be straight," says Dr. Bradford Butler, chiropractor and author of The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief. The slight curves in your spine serve to support your body's weight and allow for a normal range of motion, he explains. (Related: My Neck Injury Was the Self-Care Wake-Up Call I Didn't Know I Needed)
It's not totally clear what caused Atkin's military neck, but in her Instagram Stories, she included a PSA that "tech neck" is no joke: "I haven't studied 'texting neck' but I just want to warn you all to lookup and be careful at your computer and phone."
Bad posture while texting can, in fact, cause military neck, says Robert Glatter, M.D., an emergency medicine doctor. "Poor posture is generally the most common cause of military neck," he explains. "It may be the result of excessive flexion of the neck associated with smartphone use. We often hear the term 'text neck' and it is a real phenomenon in the past decade with people developing neck pain and headaches due to prolonged neck flexion." (Related: Is It Possible to Exercise Your Neck?)
On the other hand, some people are actually born with military neck. "When you are born, it is very common for your spine to be distorted," says chiropractor Gary Olson, D.C. "It is very traumatic for a fetus to come out of the birth canal, and it can cause the fetus to come out with a straight spine."
The good news is that military neck is often easily treated. In her Instagram Stories, Atkin shared that she'll be doing physical therapy and wearing a cervical support pillow. In many cases, physical therapy, using a special pillow, and establishing proper ergonomics in your desk setup can help, says Dr. Glatter. "NSAIDs may also be helpful as well as application of moist heat and rest," he adds. In rare cases, surgery is necessary, he says.
Military neck doesn't sound like a good time, but Atkin seems to be finding some humor in her situation. Her dog needs a neck support pillow right now, too, so she posted a photo of them twinning. Pure Instagram gold.