Neck and Arm Pain
The Cervical Spine
In the Cervical Spine there are 7 vertebrae.
They are connected by joints, muscles and ligaments.
Between the vertebral bodies the intervertebral
discs are situated. They consist of a cartilage-like substance
and act as shock absorbers. They keep the vertebrae apart.
The spinal column encloses and protects the spinal cord. Between two
vertebrae is the intervertebral foramen, from which on each side a nerve
exits, supplying muscles, skin or organs.
Each area of the spinal column has a particular role: The cervical spine
has to support and move the head and for this has strong musculature.
to the cervical spine two areas can be differentiated:
the top with two vertebrae - Atlas and Axis (see diagram 1)
the lower section with the next 5 vertebrae
Diagram 1 Cervical Spine -View from the rear
Diagram 2 Cervical column - side view
Since the head weighs generally about 10kgs, muscles and joints,
to balance the head on the column, must work finely tuned, front to back
and sideways. To balance the weight of the head correctly, the vertebrae
are arranged in a curve with a forward bent called Kyphosis (see diagram
1.). Muscles attaching to the back can be compared to the ropes, that support
the mast of a sailing boat. If this balance between
muscles and joints is disturbed, it comes inevitably in the
course of the time to head, neck and/or arm pain.
The main causes for neck pain are sudden, heavy overloading or bad
posture over a long period of time. Sudden overloading can happen by a
fall down- stairs, or slipping on a smooth soil or while doing sports.
Also a whiplash trauma after a car accident can be the cause. If the neck
already has blockages of vertebrae (subluxations), possibly from old injuries
or bad posture, something quite normal like sneezing or turning in bed
at night or a draft of cold wind can be the trigger of pain.
Posture changes occur during a longer period
and not suddenly, e.g. the neck of a student or a desk worker,
bent for hours over the desk, can lose its normal curve, stretch itself
and the normal curve even can reverse in the course of the time.
lateral. Picture of the Cervical Spine - Reversal of the normal curve
Long continuous emotional stress,
during which the muscles are continuously strained, can change the posture
of the neck and thus eventually change its function. No matter whether
the cause is sudden or long lasting overloading, the vertebral joints do
not function correctly, they block and the result is neck pain.
Even worse, vertebral joints, that are blocked, are particularly susceptible
to degeneration, same are the intervertebral discs. Arthrosis
starts and does not only lead to further movement restriction and pain,
but also causes pressure on nerves, which finally leads to shoulder and
arm pain. Even if there is no Arthrosis yet, nervous irritations can occur
with pain radiating down the arm, as well as tension
headache, or even migrane. Also complaints such as Dizzyness,
(so-called "circulatory disturbances"), Tinnitus
(ear noises) and Visual Disturbances
can be traced to the cervical spine.
Arthrose of the vertebral joints, decrease of intervertebral disk height
Neck and Arm pains can be treated in various ways. Under medical treatment
usually Painkillers, Tranquilizers, or Musclerelaxants
The goal of Chiropractic is to restore the
normal mobility and function of the joints of the Cervical Spine
in a natural manner as far as possible and thus reach rekief of pain.
The patient is examined and it is determined exactly, where the movement
of the joints is reduced and how the tightened musculature behaves. If
necessary radiographs are made. Finally, after the problem is
precise chiropractic manipulations
are applied with the aim to release the blocked (subluxated) joints from
Usually these manipulations are repeated several times to ensure that
the joints actually remain freely mobile against each other. The frequency
depends on the age of the patient, on the age of the problem and on the
status of the joints.
Further the advice is possibly given to the patient, depending upon
problem, to special exercises or behaviorial measures. Possibly he must
modify certain habits of lifting and carrying or strive for a new sleeping
Every time the patient takes an active part
in the therapy, the chances are best for permanent relief.
To prevent relapses of his problem the patient should have himself examined
chiropractically 1 - 2 times per year. After renewed
injuries, falls or accidents the patient should seek a chiropractic appointment
as qick as possible.
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letzte Änderung: 11.09.2010(©Hans Ihmsen)
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