Cervical instability is an orthopedic disorder. In this disorder, some of the upper cervical spine’s ligaments become loose. It will cause neuronal damage along with several adverse symptoms. Alar, transverse, auxiliary, and apical dens are some of these ligaments.
A person will feel migraines, vertigo, and nausea if he has this condition.
What Is Cervical Instability?
This condition appears when the ligaments connecting spinal cord to skull become loose. The two joints at which the ligaments may become lose include:
- Atlanto Occipital
- Atlantoaxial joints
Patients with cervical instability can move their neck vertebrae beyond the normal range. It happens due to ligaments that have become loose or stretched out. As a result, it will create difficulty supporting the head or moving the neck easily.
It often causes severe chronic pain. This condition is also known as ligament laxity. Common causes include genetic connective tissue disorders, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Marfan Syndrome.
What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Instability?
The signs and symptoms of cervical instability are often confused with other disorders. These include orthopedic, musculoskeletal, and neurological disorders.
But some symptoms show that you may have cervical spine instability, include:
- Occipital headaches
- Muscle spasms
- Neck, shoulder, or jaw pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Limb weakness
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Orthostatic intolerance
- Memory loss
What Causes Cervical Instability?
With age, the bones and cartilage making up your backbone and neck develop wear and tear. These changes can include
- Dehydrated disks:
Disks play the role of cushions between your spine’s bones. By the age of 40, most people’s spinal discs begin to dry up and shrink.
- Bone spurs:
The spine often produces extra bone as a result of disc deterioration. It happens due to a misguided effort to strengthen the spine. Sometimes, the spinal cord and nerve roots might be pinched by these bone spurs.
- Stiff ligaments:
Ligaments are tissue cords that connect one bone to another. As you get older, your spinal ligaments become stiff, making your neck less flexible.
Trauma to the cervical spine can result from an incident, such as a car accident. It can also occur from micro-injuries and repetitive trauma over time.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA):
Rheumatoid arthritis and other similar arthritic conditions can also cause this.
Risk factors for cervical spondylosis include:
- Neck injuries
- Genetic factors
How Is Cervical Instability Diagnosed?
The doctor will analyze a patient’s symptoms, history, and other factors. He will then suggest one of the following testing methods.
- Upright MRI (AKA magnetic resonance imaging)
- CT scan (AKA computerized tomography)
- Supine MRI (laying on your back)
- Digital x-ray
Treatments for Cervical Instability
The most common treatments recommended by a specialist to treat it include:
Chiropractic care is by far the most effective treatment for cervical instability. The doctor will suggest you this treatment if you have the following symptoms:
- Severe headaches
- Poor posture
- Spinal misalignments
Upper cervical chiropractic care may help patients to correct it. Spinal manipulation is also considered a reliable therapy. It produces effective results if performed by a qualified chiropractor.
Most patients prefer a combination of chiropractic and physical therapy.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is a reliable treatment to treat cervical instability. For the best outcomes, doctors recommend physical therapy along with chiropractic care. Physical therapy may include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Posture education
- Joint mobilization
- Soft tissue mobilization
- Spinal manipulation
- Proprioception exercises
Surgery is required only in severe cases when the instability has gotten out of control. The aim of surgical treatments is to correct dysfunction of the craniocervical junction. The most common surgical treatment options include:
- Cervical fusion spine surgery
- Halifax clamp
- Screw-rod constructs
- Transarticular screws
- Posterior sublaminar wiring
Prolotherapy is a new technique used to treat patients with cervical instability. It does not carry any adverse side effects.
It is beneficial for patients suffering from injuries that cause chronic neck pain. They include underlying joint instability and cervical instability. Doctors also consider this therapy best for patients who have chronic musculoskeletal injuries.
The purpose of Stem Cell Prolotherapy is ligament repair. Prolotherapy injections are also offered to patients experiencing this condition. It is a better alternative to surgery.
But, prolotherapy has yet to prove if it can provide long-term treatment outcomes or not. Many patients report that they didn’t get lasting pain relief with prolotherapy.
How to Prevent Cervical Instability
It is more common in people with connective tissue disorders. For preventing cervical instability, one should:
- Visit the chiropractor on a regular basis
- Practice good posture
- Avoid situations correlated with whiplash or other trauma to the spine
At CMW, our expert team of specialists offers effective and reliable treatments for Cervical Instability. Schedule an appointment at CMW with our Board-Certified surgeons and alleviate your pain today.