Aging affects the entire body, which includes the spine, neck and shoulders, upper back, and arms. It does not mean that everyone will develop neck pain, but the wear and tear put on the spine can lead to degenerative spinal conditions. Doctor of Chiropractic Dr. Alexander Jimenez discusses:
- Cervical spine anatomy
- Degenerative spinal disorders that cause
- Neck pain
- Treatment of neck pain and symptoms
Table of Contents
The cervical spine by the top 7 vertebrae of the spine.
Often referred to as C1-C7, with the “C” indicating cervical, and the numbers 1-7 indicate the level.
- C1 is closest to the skull
- C7 is closest to the thoracic chest/rib cage area
The cervical spine is particularly susceptible to degenerative problems because:
- Highly mobile with a broad range of motion
- Supports the skull
- Neck anatomy is complex
Many degenerative problems, including osteophytes or bone spurs, can develop.
Neck Pain Symptoms
Several symptoms can occur and indicate the presence of a degenerative condition:
- Neck pain
- Pain around the back of the shoulder area
- Arm pain, numbness, or weakness
- Difficulty with hand dexterity or walking
Conditions That Affect the Neck
The degenerative process begins in any of the joints in the spine, but over time it can cause changes in the other joints.
An example is an intervertebral disc where:
The disc narrows and the normal movement becomes altered, and the adjacent joints are subjected to force and pressure, which can lead to degenerative arthritis joint inflammation.
Spondylosis or spinal osteoarthritis causing pain in the neck is common. The pain can radiate, or spread, into the shoulder/s or down the arm/s. Arm pain or weakness caused by a bone spur compressing a spinal nerve root can also occur.
Diagnosing Cervical Spine Conditions
Once examined one or more symptoms are likely to be present.
The doctor will ask the patient questions to learn the history of the patient.
A thorough evaluation of the patient will be conducted, including tests to identify the cause of pain and symptoms.
- A neurologic examination is performed to rule out neurological disorders
- A shoulder examination will also be done to ensure that the symptoms originate from the neck
- Diagnostic tests
- Narrow intervertebral disc space
- Anterior osteophytes or bone spurs
- Spondylosis (ie, arthritis) of the facet joints
- Osteophytes created from the uncovertebral joints
CT Scans or computed tomography can show bone changes associated with degenerative spondylosis. Osteophytes can be observed and evaluated.
CT does not provide an optimal evaluation but can sometimes show disc herniations.
MRI magnetic resonance imaging is a powerful tool for cervical spondylosis.
MRI can help doctors identify:
- Disc herniation
- Joint arthrosis is a type of osteoarthritis
MRI is best for soft disc herniation/s.
Myelogram/CT can be utilized in complex cases that involve multi-level spinal diseases.
It is very useful in delineating bone spurs from safe disc herniations.
Discography is used diagnostically when viewing the lumbar/low back and thoracic/mid-back spine, but using it in cervical spine imagery is debated among doctors.
After the tests have been performed, a custom treatment plan is created.
Nonsurgical Neck Pain Treatment
Nonsurgical treatment of cervical degenerative disease has been proven to provide excellent results in over 85% of patients.
A multi-disciplinary approach:
Immobilization of the neck to reduce motion can be beneficial during acute episodes of pain.
Physical therapy (PT) and Chiropractic can be useful to decrease muscle spasms and return motion.
Both PT and chiropractic can use:
- Electrical stimulation
To help maximize benefits.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
- Muscle relaxants
- Opioids when absolutely necessary
The non-surgical treatment provides positive long-term pain and symptom relief.
A surgeon is likely to consider surgery for a disorder if one or more of the following criteria are met:
- Nonsurgical care has been tried and has not worked
- Spinal cord dysfunction
- Arm pain or weakness (neurological symptoms) that do not go away
Depending on the diagnosis, surgical procedures can vary:
- One type of surgery is the removal of the bone spur(s)
- A cervical spinal fusion that joins two or more vertebrae
But the surgical procedure is based on the way the patient wants to go, the diagnosis, general health, and what the spine surgeon recommends.
The surgeon will explain the recommended procedure to you clearly.
Most of the time the preferred approach is anterior or from the front interbody fusion.
A cervical plate could be placed over the interbody device or graft to stabilize the neck. This can avoid the need for a brace after.
A posterior approach from the back of the spine is considered when a disc has herniated laterally or to the side.
Things You Can Do
Cervical spine disorders can be diagnosed and treated more accurately with today’s advancing technology.
With the guidance and treatment of an expert medical team, patients can expect to see a definite improvement in their condition and symptoms.
Chiropractic Neck Pain Treatment
Sandra Rubio discusses the symptoms, causes, and treatments of neck pain. Headaches, migraines, dizziness, confusion, and weakness in the upper extremities are some of the most common symptoms associated with neck pain. Trauma from an injury, such as that from an automobile accident or a sports injury, or an aggravated condition due to improper posture can commonly cause neck pain and other symptoms. Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, among other chiropractic treatment methods like deep-tissue massage, to restore the alignment of the cervical spine and improve neck pain. Chiropractic care with Dr. Jimenez is the non-surgical choice for restoring a patient’s overall well-being.
Neck pain is a common health issue, with approximately two-thirds of the population being affected by neck pain at any time throughout their lives. Neck pain originating in the cervical spine, or upper spine can be caused by numerous other spinal health issues. Neck pain can result due to the pinching of the nerves emanating from the vertebrae, or because muscular tightness in both the upper spine and the neck. Joint disruption in the neck can generate a variety of other common symptoms, including headache, head pain, and migraines, as does joint disturbance in the back. Neck pain affects about 5 percent of the global population as of 2010, according to statistics.
A chiropractor evaluates the spine as a whole because other regions of the neck (cervical), mid-back (thoracic), and low back (lumbar) can be affected as well. Along with treating the spine as a whole, chiropractic medicine treats the entire person and not just a specific symptom/s. Chiropractors may educate on nutrition, stress management, and lifestyle goals in addition to treating neck pain.
The information herein on "How Aging Affects The Cervical Spine" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card