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Ole Mehrfeld
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25002 Lleida
Tel. 973 281 840
Roderick A. King
Bisbe Lorenzana,33 bis. 1r-1a.
17002 Girona
Tel. 972 220 787

 

Disorders of the cervical region

The cervical spine is similar to the lumbar spine. The individual vertebrae and discs are smaller but they face the same challenge as that of the lumbar spine,namely, weight bearing in the upright posture. Like the muscles of the lumbar region, the cervical and shoulder musculature also lose flexibility and strength. They tighten and shorten, reducing free movement and producing pain,hereby setting in motion a similar degenerative process as that described for the lumbar spine.

As in the lumbar spine section, I will now list and describe some of the most common cervical spine conditions. 

1. Muscle pain

Pain which arises in the muscles is sometimes described as myofascial pain or myofascial pain syndrome. Many of our muscles tighten and shorten over time, producing the loss of flexibility described earlier. This situation can produce painful spots in the muscles called trigger points. The pain may radiate from the point of origin into more distant areas and the tightening and shortening of the muscles can produce postural distortions and thereby other pain syndromes. This kind of back pain is a first stage condition, destined to worsen over time if not treated properly and responds rapidly to chiropractic care.

2. Cervical joint paint (called faced syndrome in the lumbar spine)

Cervical joint pain arises in the small joints between the vertebrae of the cervical spine. These joints are susceptible to restriction and or postural distortion as the muscles which surround them shorten and tighten. Chiropractic spinal manipulation is a highly effective means of restoring position and function to these important vertebral joints. Relief is usually quick.

3. Disc pain, degenerative disc disease,apondylosis, arthritis, arthrosis

As we stand and sit upright or even worse slump, the discs between our vertebrae, which act as cushion like shock absorbers, come under a lot of compressive strain. If in addition we suffer from the same joint restriction

described in the previous paragraph, the discs begin to dehydrate. Disc dehydration is the first phase of disc degeneration. As the discs degenerate, they lose height and the vertebrae become closer. The cervical joints described above have to take more strain and both disc and joints begin to wear out. This wearing out process is called degenerative disc disease, arthritis, arthrosis or spondylosis and is the cause of much neck pain. This is a stage further than the previously described disorders but nonetheless responds very well to chiropractic care. If left untreated however it may well lead on to the next disorder.

4. Disc hernia

The disc is composed of two distinct parts: the annulus fibrosus which forms a donut like ring and the nucleus pulposus which is a jelly like substance in the middle. The dehydration and subsequent degeneration previously described, leads to a weakening of the outer ring which, as a result can tear, thereby allowing the jelly like nucleus to escape forming a hernia. Tearing of the outer ring with escape of the jelly like nucleus is associated with acute neck pain. Most patients suffering from such an episode present with very limited movement and an out of line posture (antalgia) which the body automatically

adopts to avoid further pain and injury. Disc hernias don’t occur in strong, flexible spines. Once a patient has reached this stage, it is very important to not only provide adequate treatment but also to prescribe specific exercises designed to re-strengthen vital spinal muscles so that they can properly support the disc in its recovery and subsequent return to everyday activities.

As with the previous stage, this is a more advanced condition and usually requires more treatment. It does however respond well and if left unresolved may progress to the next level.

5. Brachialgia

Brachialgia (arm pain) occurs when the brachial nerves, which arise from beside the cervical discs, are irritated by a disc hernia or swollen joint capsule which rubs on them producing pain and often numbness or tingling down the affected arm. In advanced cases, patients experience not only severe pain and limitation but often loss of sensation and/or weakness in certain groups of arm and hand muscles. This debilitating condition often leads to surgery although nowadays research evidence points towards better long term results with conservative care such as chiropractic manual techniques and carefully designed spinal exercise programs. In the “Centre Quiropráctic” we have seen several hundred such cases over the last 16 years and can confidently say that even though it would have been quicker and easier to resolve patients in an earlier stage, the vast majority have been able to resume a normal, pain free life, without surgery. Obviously there are cases where surgery is the only option and in such cases we don’t hesitate to refer the patient to the most appropriate medical specialist.

6. Headache of cervical origin.

Probably the single most frequent cause of headache is cervical spine disorder. Obviously there are other causes and before treatment is initiated, a thorough case history and clinical exam are employed to detect those cases where referral to another specialist is required. If the headache is of cervical origin however, chiropractic care often brings rapid relief.

7. Vertigo or dizziness of cervical origin

Cervical vertigo is common and very unpleasant. Patients are often worried about the origin of their dizziness. Once again a thorough history and exam enable us to detect those cases in need of referral. However, if the vertigo is of cervical origin, treatment can be highly effective.