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Cervical spine syndrome: causes and treatmentPain in cervical spine syndrome not only affects the neck, but can radiate to other parts of the body.

The cervical spine syndrome includes all complaints that affect the area of the cervical spine (C-spine) or originate from it. The cervical spine syndrome (or cervicobrachial syndrome) is a collective term for disorders of various causes in the area of the neck and shoulder girdle. Thus, cervical spine syndrome is not a diagnosis in the strict sense, but merely an umbrella term for various cervical spine complaints.

Symptoms of cervical spine syndrome

Patients with a cervical spine symptom complain of neck pain that can radiate to the shoulders and arms, sometimes also to the back of the head or forehead. Due to hardened muscles (muscle tension) next to the spine, the mobility of the head is limited in cervical spine syndrome.

Cervical spine syndrome – the causes

In the case of sudden onset, severe cervical spine pain, the causes lie mainly in the muscle and ligament structures (myofascial causes). Chronic cervical spine pain is usually caused by irritation of the intervertebral discs and intervertebral joints. Contrary to the amption that too much muscle tension would cause most of the problems in the neck area, it is rather the case that too much mobility and too little ability to stabilize the cervical spine are the cause of the symptoms in the neck area. The mobility of the thoracic spine decreases due to permanently sedentary activities in everyday life. A movement deficit of the thoracic spine in turn leads to the fact that the body strives to compensate for this mobility with the cervical spine. Often, cervical spine syndrome occurs at the same time as shoulder problems such as shoulder impingement or irritation of the biceps tendon.

From a biomechanical point of view, weakness of the calf muscles or gluteal muscles in the right leg can lead to increased tension in the left shoulder. Muscular deficits in the legs are often caused by an increased tension of the arm-. Shoulder muscles of the opposite side balanced. Especially for runners, the leg muscles should also be tested during the diagnosis.

In the case of long-term cough or bronchitis, the respiratory muscles are often overloaded. Therefore, colds and flu-like infections are often accompanied by pain in the cervical spine and surrounding muscles.

In the case of persistent pain in the cervical spine, the stress factor (private as well as professional) should also be included in the medical history. The posture, even when walking, is closely related to our perceived emotions. Stress therefore often leads to a tense posture in the entire shoulder-neck area.

What helps with cervical spine syndrome?

First of all, a doctor should exclude serious diseases in case of cervical spine pain, so-called "red flags, during which certain exercises for movement extension or muscle strengthening may be contraindicated. After that, the individual treatment should be based on the cause of the pain. Do not be limited to treating the symptoms. In most cases, conservative treatment by a physiotherapist is sufficient for cervical spine syndrome.

In cervical spine syndrome, weakened muscle groups must be strengthened. Loosening the muscles through manual massage or stimulation current treatment can help with cervical spine syndrome in the acute phase, as this improves circulation and allows the muscles to work normally again. Muscle imbalances lead to different mobility of the cervical spine to the right and left; movement exercises help you to regain symmetrical mobility.

In general, the mobilization of the shoulder joints and the thoracic spine with simultaneous stabilization of the spinal muscles helps in the long term, provided there is no structural instability of the vertebral bodies. You should also not neglect the trunk muscles.

An important pillar in the therapy of cervical spine syndrome is endurance sports. Regular endurance training such as running, cycling or swimming causes hypoalgesia, i.e. a reduction in pain perception, immediately after training. In addition, endurance sports regulate the effect of the stress hormone cortisol. Can thus provide relief from stress-related pain in the cervical spine.

How to prevent cervical spine syndrome

Due to today's everyday demands, we have to train our bodies, for example, to maintain active body tension during sedentary activities. We tend to hunch over after a long period of time, which can promote cervical spine syndrome. Incorrect postures and stressful movements must therefore be recognized and avoided. A good muscle corset is the best prevention for cervical spine syndrome and posture problems in general. Runners should therefore increase strength training, especially for the torso or trunk. Upper body, do not neglect. In the short term, stretching the trapezius muscle also helps with cervical spine syndrome.

Suitable exercises for an athletics program are

Conclusion: Stabilization and endurance sports are the key to cervical spine syndrome

If the doctor has diagnosed a cervical spine syndrome, a detailed medical history and findings survey should clarify the causes of the pain in the cervical spine after serious diseases have been ruled out. After that, especially the mobilization of the thoracic spine, the mobilization and stabilization of the shoulder muscles and the cervical spine muscles as well as general exercises for trunk stabilization lead to a lasting relief of the pain. One of the most important pillars in the therapy of back pain in general is endurance sports, for example running sessions in the aerobic training range.

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