The cervical spine (neck) is a delicate well-engineered structure of bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Discs, ligaments and tendons which are made of collagen keep the bones together, protect the nerves and give muscle support and foundation.
It houses the spinal cord that sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body – while also remarkably flexible, allowing movement in all directions, and strong.
The neck begins at the base of the skull and through a series of seven vertebral segments connects to the thoracic spine (the upper back).
The cervical spine maintains several crucial roles:
- It houses and protects the spinal cord.
- It supports the head and its movement. The cervical spine literally shoulders a big load, as the head weighs on average between 10 and 13 pounds.
- The cervical spine allows for the head’s flexibility, including rotational, flexion/extension and lateral bending motions.
- The neck facilitates flow of blood to the brain. Vertebral openings (vertebral foramen) in the cervical spine provide a passageway for vertebral arteries to pass and ensure proper blood flow to the brain. These openings are present only in the vertebrae of the cervical spine.
There are six cervical discs. Each cervical disc rests between the cervical vertebrae, acts as a shock absorber in the cervical spine and allows the neck to handle much stress.
With its complex and intricate construct, and the many stresses and force that can be placed on it through a trauma or even just daily activities, the cervical spine is at risk for developing a number of painful conditions, such as:
- Cervical degenerative disc disease
- Cervical herniated disc
- Cervical stenosis
- Cervical osteoarthritis
Simple muscle strain resulting in a painful or stiff neck.
Cervical degenerative disc disease refers to when a cervical disc is the actual source of pain in the neck, possibly from twisting or falling on the neck but more likely from day-to-day wear and tear on the cervical spine.
With age, the cervical discs lose water, stiffen and become less flexible in adjusting to compression. Such degenerative changes may result in the inner core of the cervical disc extruding through the outer core and coming in contact with the spinal nerve root (what is known as a herniated cervical disc).
As people age or as injury occurs, the c-spine which is held together by a rich network of ligaments and tendons eventually begins to deteriorate.
Deterioration of rope-like ligaments and tendons leads to joint laxity. Laxity leads to increase space between the discs and vertebral bodies.
Movement of a neck with laxity involves friction or rubbing and pressure that commonly leads to disc bulging and herniation. Herniation can cause nerve root compression and associated pain syndromes.
The body’s adaptive and responsive mechanisms to friction in attempt to protect the spinal cord and stabilize the cervical spine, produces more bone to try and hang on to the connective tissue. This results in bone spurs and spinal stenosis
In other instances, the cervical disc may degenerate as a result of direct trauma or gradual changes. With no blood supply and very few nerve endings, the cervical discs cannot repair themselves.
Cervical symptoms related to a degenerative cervical disc may include a stiff neck and/or numbness, tingling, and weakness in the neck, arms, and shoulders as a result of a cervical nerve that has been irritated or pinched by the degeneration. Such cervical symptoms may persist for several months and fluctuate in terms of intensity.
Patients with a degenerative cervical disc will typically begin with non-surgical treatments (NSAIDs, exercise, chiropractic, physical therapy, etc.) to seek cervical pain relief; however, if such treatment proves ineffective, a cervical spine surgery that removes the disc or fuses the spine is usually recommended, which can end in failure and worsening symptoms.
Prolotherapy treatments of the neck are very effective in stabilizing the cervical spine. Once injected, the proliferants used stimulate a regenerative cellular healing response that produces collagen and bone. When the collagen matures it shortens and converts a loose unstable friction laden joint to one that is better supported and more stable.
Continue exploring our site to learn more about Prolotherapy regenerative injection treatments and the potential benefits we can provide you, or feel free to contact us directly for more information today.