The cervical spine syndrome, called cervical spine syndrome for short, describes a wide range of complaints in the area of the neck and throat, which can also spread to other regions of the body. The cause lies in the area of the seven cervical vertebrae (C1 to C7), whereby a relatively unspecific complaint pattern with multi-layered symptoms results. These range from neck and back pain to sensory disturbances and signs of paralysis.
The cause is often a damage or irritation of the corresponding nerve roots in the area of the cervical spine. Typically, physicians classify cervical syndrome according to its possible cause into functional, degenerative, and post-traumatic manifestations. Due to its numerous possible causes, cervical spine syndrome can occur in all population groups regardless of gender and age. While most cases can be traced back to harmless triggers, more serious medical conditions are responsible for less than 1 percent of all cases. Similar to the lumbar spine syndrome, the causes of the perceived pain are. Neurological complaints very versatile. Most often, however, the cause of cervical vertebra syndrome is due to a degenerative change in the spine. In such a case, doctors speak of a degenerative cervical syndrome. These signs of wear and tear occur especially in older patients as a result of age-related changes in the cervical spine. However, athletes whose cervical spine is subjected to particularly high stress can also develop cervical spine syndrome as a result of premature wear and tear.
Typical degenerative causes include, for example, the formation of bony protrusions on the vertebral bodies (osteophytes), which exert prere on the nerves and nerve roots located there. Other degenerative causes are changes in the vertebral joints (facet syndromes), changes in the cartilage structures (osteochondrosis) or spondylosis. Rarely, the symptoms can also be traced back to a herniated disc.
Cervical spine syndrome due to abnormal and continuous strain
A typical cause of functional cervical vertebra syndrome is tension in the neck muscles, which leads to the characteristic neck pain. The causes of the tensions are also varied. As a rule, a permanent bad posture or a bad neck is the cause of the symptoms. Incorrect strain the root of the cervical spine syndrome. This is usually due to poor posture as a result of an overly rounded back when working at a desk and in general in sedentary everyday life.
As a result of the rounded back in the thoracic spine (BWS), the cervical spine must be straightened further to allow a straight view forward. This in turn puts stress on the numerous small muscles between the vertebrae in addition to the superficial neck muscles. Painful muscle tension is the result. A further cause for the development of the pain-triggering muscle tensions is also stress itself.
Special case: Cervical spine syndrome due to whiplash injury
The main cause of traumatic cervical spine syndrome is the so-called whiplash injury (cervical spine distortion). This occurs most frequently in rear-end collisions. As a result of the abrupt braking, a strong overextension of the neck musculature occurs here. The cervical spine reacts to the overextension with severe tension, which can extend into the back and shoulders. In many cases, the tension appears with a time delay of a few days.
Other potential causes of cervical spine syndrome
Unnatural head positioning during sleep Chronic inflammatory processes caused by rheumatic diseases (z.B. Acute inflammatory processes in the area of the cervical spine Blockage of the cervical vertebrae (segmental dysfunction) Previous spinal surgery Psychological stresses such as depression, anxiety, etc. Draught Benign and malignant tumors
Cervical spine syndrome – symptoms
Just as with lumbar spine syndrome and cervical spine syndrome, a wide variety of diffuse symptoms can occur in cervical spine syndrome. Sometimes it even runs completely symptom-free at the beginning, whereby the complaints increase gradually over time. The main symptom, however, is neck and back pain that is difficult to classify and is often described by patients as dull. In some cases, pain radiates to the shoulders and arms as well. Whether the pain also occurs at rest or is only movement-dependent differs from case to case. However, the pain often intensifies when the head is turned.
In addition, there is noticeable muscle hardening (myogelosis) as a result of underlying tension. You can feel these particularly well in the area of the trapezius muscle (Musculus trapezius), the shoulder and in the area of the lateral neck musculature. In the case of very strong tension, painful movement restrictions of the cervical spine are also possible. The tension-related restriction of movement should not be confused with a genuine cervical vertebrae blockage.
Other symptoms of cervical spine syndrome
Abnormal sensations such as tingling or formication (if nerves/roots are affected) Headaches, tension headaches (especially in the back of the head) In rare cases, paralysis (paresis) in the area of the arms Onset of dizziness Occurrence of visual disturbances Temporary persistent ringing in the ears (e.g., tinnitus, ringing in the ears).B. tinnitus)
Cervical spine syndrome – treatment
Since the neurological symptoms in particular can also have numerous other causes, from a slipped disc to meningitis, we urgently recommend clarifying the symptoms with a doctor in such a case. Finally, the treatment also depends on the final diagnosis. Fortunately, only in the fewest cases (e.g.B. in case of herniated discs, rheumatism, degenerative changes of the vertebral bodies, etc.) extensive medical therapy is necessary.
Eliminating pain and tension
In most cases, no specific therapy is needed, as the self-healing tendency is very high. The initial focus is on pain treatment with analgesic agents such as paracetamol, diclofenac or ibuprofen. The second step is to release the muscle tension. The local injection of painkilling substances (local anesthetics) by a doctor is only necessary in severe cases.
Particularly in the case of severe hardening, use muscle relaxants. These so-called muscle relaxants include tetrazepam, methocarbamol, and diazepam, among others. You can also promote the loosening of the muscles through gentle massage and heat treatment. For the latter, the use of heated cherry stone pillows, warming ointments, heat patches or red light is recommended. Relaxing measures such as yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, acupuncture
Professional physiotherapy is an important treatment for relieving muscle tension and restoring mobility in the cervical spine. In most cases, this involves a combination of targeted nerve mobilization, trigger point massages and so-called deep friction techniques with physiotherapeutic exercises for mobilization and strengthening of the neck and back muscles.
Immobilization of the cervical spine in acute cervical vertebra syndrome
Attention: Immobilization of the cervical spine is nowadays only used for acute cervical spine syndrome z.B. as a result of a traffic accident with the help of a neck brace. This relieves the cervical spine in a mechanical way. Should relax the muscles. However, since immobilization further weakens the muscles if used for too long, the cervical spine should only be immobilized for as long as absolutely necessary.
Here's how you can prevent cervical spine syndrome
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do yourself to prevent cervical spine syndrome from occurring in the first place. The spectrum ranges from ergonomic furnishing of the workplace to participation in a back school. Make your lifestyle more active. Avoid sitting passively for too long. Get up from your desk at times while you work. Use the time for a short stretching session. Set up your workstation ergonomically by, among other things, paying attention to the optimal seat height and screen setting for your body. Use an ergonomic office chair with lumbar and head support. Whenever possible, try to work in a standing position. Learn to pay attention to your posture according to the motto: "stomach in, chest out". Attending a back school can help you to work on your posture. Strengthen your entire back-. Neck muscles. Do sports that use a large part of your body and also improve the nutrient supply to the intervertebral discs through the alternating prere load that occurs. Ideal are for example jogging and swimming.
All-in-one exercise for a strong cervical spine
The following exercise is ideal for strengthening the neck and cervical muscles and thus contributes an important part to the prophylaxis of cervical spine syndrome. And the best thing about it is that you can do the exercise comfortably in a few minutes between at your desk.
Sit upright, make a fist with one hand and clasp it with the other hand. Now press your hands together under your chin and hold your head against it. Hold the tension for 10-20 seconds and then release. Now put a hand with prere to the side of your head. Hold your head against it for 10-20 seconds. Change sides afterwards. Remain in an upright position. Press your flat hand on your forehead. Hold your head against it again for 10-20 seconds. Finally, cross your arms behind your head and exert counterprere with your head. Once you have gone through the complete circle, start the next round. Depending on how much time you have, 3-6 repetitions are recommended.