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Instability of the cervical spine: symptoms and treatment

Instability of the cervical spine is called a condition in which the neck cannot support his position. The condition is not pathological, however, leads to neurological lesions and can cause dangerous pain syndromes.

Nestabilnostu shejnogo otdela pozvonochnika simptomy i lechenie

Anatomy in brief

The vertebrae 33-35 vertebrae which constitute a spine. Cervical spine contains 7 vertebrae, numbered from the first vertebra that connects the spine with the skull. The first vertebra is called the Atlas, a second – axis, both have atypical structure. Between the vertebrae are ligaments and discs that make up the ligaments of the spine.

The vertebrae are surrounded by a layer of muscle that supports them in an upright position and gives support for running next to the nerves and arteries. All the vertebrae form a spinal column that contains spinal cord, reflex and perform the conductive function. It transmits impulses from skeletal muscles to the brain and back, and also solely responsible for the internal organs – conducts autonomic regulation.

What is the instability

There are two term instability of the neck and Hyper-mobility of the individual vertebrae. Instability of the cervical vertebrae is a non-pathological process in which the vertebrae can not under a pressure head to maintain its shape without pain. The amount of pain corresponds to the value of the load and how far developed instability of the cervical spine.

The hypermobility called the diagnostic sign, which indicates increased mobility of the articular surfaces of the vertebra, which in turn lead to the development of instability. Hypermobility may not always lead to instability, and instability always occurs because of hypermobility.

The development of symptoms

Instability of the cervical spine is divided into the following types:

  • Posttraumatic;
  • Dysplastic;
  • Degenerative;
  • The postoperative.

Nestabilnost shejnogo otdela pozvonochnika

Post-traumatic instability is a consequence of the impact of large forces on the spine. As a rule, injuries obtained during an accident or intense activity during sports associated with high injury rate. The impact leads to destruction of normal ultracomplex and ligamentous extension of the plane of the disk.

With a single injury such violation will always make themselves known and manifest in repeated displacements. Articular plane loses its rigidity and cannot by itself under load to maintain its shape.

Dysplastic relate to violations of formation of bones. Most often the disease is manifested in the juvenile period, during the most active osteogenesis. This instability of the cervical vertebrae due to downed processes of formation of cellular structure of the intervertebral joints.

Degenerative instability is detected in the diagnostic osteochondritis changes is a consequence of the degeneration of the articular surfaces. Low back pain is essentially the growth of cartilage tissue and its partial replacement by cartilage. Surface of the vertebrae become more broad ligaments may begin to be attached to the cartilage to lose its stability.

Sometimes the process can go in the opposite direction, when the growth of bone tissue, and will experience the process of immobilization of the cervical – vertebrae will not be enough space for movement, what will cause pain and stiffness. The functional part of the spine suffers, there will be noticeable neurological problems.

Postoperative can develop as a result of radical surgical interventions, for example, removal of the segment of the vertebral arc to release the spinal nerve from pressure. It is a violation of the support complex of the spine, which leads to excessive mobility of the neck. Of course, for the formation of postoperative mobility necessary preconditions, for example, the presence of injuries and diseases of the vertebrae.


Instability of the cervical spine is the symptoms and treatment of assignedthe specialist after a full examination and confirm the diagnosis. Among the symptoms there are:

  • Pain;
  • Muscle tension;
  • Deformation of the neck;
  • Radiomania in neighboring areas.

Pain is a consequence of compression of nerves and spinal cord, and at low stages of the disease can be in mild discomfort. However, with the progression of the deformity can increase pain intensity, it can be permanent. The danger of pain is the formation of a painful lesion in the brain, which can lead to constant migraines and epilepsy.

The pain may radiate to surrounding tissues and limbs, in this case, hands. Especially it will be felt at the level of elbow and below. It may also feel a strong soreness of the skin of the neck, shoulders, chest, and neck. Possible migraine, which is expressed in fast migrating pains from occiput to eyes.

Muscle tension caused by pain, and is a response to the occurrence of inflammation of damaged tissues. The risk of muscle spasm in the compression of arteries and veins, which can impair blood circulation in the brain, can cause asphyxia and oxygen deprivation.

Because the spine can not maintain its natural shape, the deformations of the neck, often externally visible. Ceases to be visible cervical physiological lordosis, there is an external deformity. In the inner part of the spinal column happen the excesses and abuses of the spinal cord. At the extreme, possible loss of contractile function of smooth muscle organs. This can cause loss of consciousness owing to cessation of breathing.


Treatment of instability of the cervical spine and are non-invasive methods. They are aimed at strengthening ultracomplex spine and education, the correct position of muscles, which will keep the neck in normal.

To limit the development of the disease eliminate the pressing load on the head, which can bend the neck. However, a properly chosen physical therapy allows you to load the muscles surrounding the vertebrae and to develop their mass, which will lead to a level and compensation for lost function.

Physical therapy helps to improve blood circulation in the neck and lead to the formation of new arteriocapillary anastomoses to improve blood flow to damaged tissue and slow the process of degeneration on the ground of lack of oxygen.

How to treat and what is the full instability can be answered only by a surgeon with education and practice. Usually treatment is limited to physical therapy and physical therapy, however, if you delay the treatment to the doctor, treatment can be only surgical method of spinal fusion, fixation of the vertebrae with severe postoperative consequences.