How Can Cervical Spine Instability Affect You? | Causes and Treatments

How Can Cervical Spine Instability Affect You? | Causes and Treatments

Have you been having a lot of pain in the neck region lately? Then it’s time to rule out the risks of having cervical instability. 

Cervical spine instability is a rare condition affecting your spine and restricting mobility. It is usually an underdiagnosed condition, so most people won't even realize that they have cervical instability until things get severe.

Therefore, it's essential to know the symptoms and causes of the issue so you remain vigilant for any uncommon pains and aches in the body.

Keep reading to know more about this condition, and let's have an in-depth look on:

  • What is Cervical Spine Instability
  • The Vitality of Spine Stability
  • Cervical Spine Instability Causes
    • Trauma or Injury
    • Genetic Diseases
    • Other Conditions
  • Cervical Spine Instability Symptoms
  • Cervical Spine Instability Treatment
    • Chiropractic Care
    • Cervical Spine Instability Exercises
    • Therapy
    • Prolotherapy
    • Surgery
  • Is Cervical Instability Dangerous
  • SUPMOGO RecoveryFlex System

What is Cervical Spine Instability?

Cervical spine instability is an orthopedic condition when the ligaments between your skull and spine become loose. As a result, the spine cannot perform its normal functions and becomes unstable.

The cervical spine instability vagus nerve can cause an effect on the nervous system and its functions as the vagus nerve gets irritated due to excessive motion in the specific ligaments. The mobility can then cause many difficult symptoms like headaches and fainting. 

Do you know how many cervical spine vertebrae there are? The region contains seven bones that separate from each other via discs.

The Vitality of Spine Stability

The importance of a stable spine cannot be underrated. Especially as you age, the health of your spine becomes increasingly vital as the bones and joints also start deteriorating. Various spinal muscles make it strong and help your spine to be stable. 

If you can strengthen those muscles, your spine will also improve, eventually slowing down the deterioration process of joints and muscles in your body. 

Cervical Spine Instability Causes

Here are some causes of cervical spine instability to simplify the issue:

▪️ Trauma or Injury

    Trauma or injury to the cervical ligaments can cause cervical instability. It can be due to a one-time accident like a car crash or extended trauma over some time. If there’s an injury to the cervical spine, it can cause cervical instability.

    ▪️ Genetic Diseases

    It can also be caused due to genetic diseases or rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, conditions like down syndrome pose a risk for cervical instability.

    ▪️ Other Conditions

    Similarly, any condition that degenerates the ligaments and joints, like arthritis, also increases the chances of cervical instability.

    Cervical Spine Instability Symptoms

    The symptoms of cervical spine instability can range from simple headaches to actual memory loss, depending on the severity of the issue. If you’ve been suffering from persistent pain and stiffness, here are some symptoms of cervical spine instability to rule out the chances of you having the disease:

    • Feeling unable to hold the head upright for an extended period
    • Pain near the neck
    • Discomfort near shoulders
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting

    Cervical Spine Instability Treatment

    The treatment for cervical spine instability includes various methods and ways to reverse and slow down the damage. Luckily most cases don’t require surgery and get better with occupational therapies. 

    If you suffer from cervical spine instability, here are a few proven ways to deal with the issue.

    1. Chiropractic Care

    Chiropractic care is the most common and essential treatment for upper cervical spine instability. A chiropractor is a trained professional who uses his hands and other tools to perform spinal manipulation. These adjustments help relieve the pain and discomfort in your joints and muscles by increasing the blood flow to the affected areas. 

    According to a study, chiropractic manipulative therapy is highly effective and helps treat spinal instability and other related diseases.[1] However, before this treatment, one essential thing to remember is to visit a licensed and experienced therapist, as an unskilled chiropractor can further mess up your spine.

    Once the spinal alignment is fixed, your symptoms, like headaches and posture issues, will also improve. Chiropractic is usually the first treatment plan for patients and mostly gives positive results. 

    2. Cervical Spine Instability Exercises

    Cervical spine instability exercises are another common way of dealing with the issue.

    According to research, thoracic exercises are a great way to stabilize ad strengthen your spine. [2] The best part? Exercising and stretching have no side effects. So, you can go for this option without a second thought. 

    Some dedicated workouts target the spine and help keep it healthy. If you’re suffering from the issue, here are some exercise plans and routines to follow for the best results:

    • Strengthening exercises are a great option. You can opt for chin tucks to stretch your neck and joints. You can also do neck rotations and elongation to help the neck joints move
    • The yes and no movement are another beneficial exercise position. Move your head up and down in a yes motion, and then move it sideways in a no motion. Doing this regularly will aid the muscles in your neck.
    • Another great technique is to practice good posture. You should actively try to improve your posture daily and ensure that you don't put extra pressure on your spine. It will help reduce cervical instability and aid in better overall posture.

    3. Therapy

    Apart from posture training and exercises, there are other therapy options for cervical instability, like joint and soft tissue mobilization.

    The joint mobilization technique, as the name suggests, is a procedure to reduce pain in the joint and improve its motion. A therapist does this, who will put pressure and use various techniques to target the stiff joint and improve its mobility.

    Soft tissue mobilization is another manual therapy that aims to reduce pain and stiffness in your muscles. It aims to promote the muscle tissues' normal function and break the tension in your muscles. 

    In addition to the therapies, your physician might recommend a cervical collar if the instability worsens.

    4. Prolotherapy

    Moreover, prolotherapy is another treatment method that significantly helps with cervical spine instability. It includes putting injections in the body to relieve pain and discomfort. The injections help with the pain by kickstarting your body's natural healing mechanisms, so prolotherapy is a safer option for many.

    It is becoming popular among patients due to its effectiveness. Prolotherapy is a regenerative treatment that targets the ligaments and joints in the affected area.

    For example, if you suffer from cervical spine instability, your doctor may opt for therapy, exercises, and prolotherapy together for a faster recovery. 

    5. Surgery

    Another treatment option for cervical spine instability is surgery. Various types of surgeries are available for dealing with specific cases, including Halifax clamp, cervical fusion spine surgery, screw-rod constructs etc.

    Your doctor will advise surgery if the instability is severe and can’t be treated with occupational therapies. 

    Surgery aims to fix the issues in the craniocervical junction (the bone that makes the bottom of your skull and the initial two bones in your spine) and strengthen the spine.

    On the contrary, surgeries are invasive and may get expensive. So, your doctor will exhaust all other non-invasive treatment options before opting for surgery. 

    Cervical fusion spine surgery is a treatment that joints two or more vertebrae in your neck region.[3]  It is a major surgery that aims to make your neck stable. Another invasive treatment is screw-rod constructs which help in craniocervical instability.[4]

    Other treatment options include Transarticular screws, Posterior sublaminar wiring, etc. Your doctor will observe your condition and recommend a treatment plan according to your needs and aims. Most spinal instability surgeries are major, and the recovery time can vary according to the situation. 

    Suggested For You: Tossing and Turning While Sleeping Due to Back Pain? Turn Your Pain into Power 

    Is Cervical Instability Dangerous?

    If the condition is left untreated, it can cause other side effects like nerve damage and memory loss. Here it’s important to note that cervical instability is treatable but not curable, which means you can’t fully eliminate the issue.

    Non-invasive treatments are helpful and can aid in taming the disease and slowing the process of degeneration. 

    Also Read: Long-Lasting Pain Relief Begins with Mobility, Stability, and Flexibility

    SUPMOGO RecoveryFlex System

    A stable spine is one of the most important aspects of your body. It allows you to move and perform tasks effortlessly in your daily life. Anything that messes with the spine can prove detrimental to a person's mobility and health.

    Luckily, there’s an added measure you can take along with occupational therapies to deal with cervical spine instability, and it’s the SUPMOGO RecoveryFlex System. The belt is aimed at helping your strength and back pain. The conducting fabric ensures that you get ten times better results.

    You must wear the belt daily and use the control app to strengthen and exercise your core and back.


    Now that you know the causes and treatments for cervical instability, you can start your treatment plan. Unless the condition is unbearably painful, you can get relief by following the non-invasive treatments to avoid the side effects and long recovery periods. 

    [1] Khodakarami, N. (2020, February). Treatment of patients with low back pain: A comparison of physical therapy and chiropractic manipulation. In Healthcare (Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 44). MDPI.

    [2] Rodríguez-Sanz, J., Malo-Urriés, M., Lucha-López, M. O., Corral-de-Toro, J., González-Rueda, V., López-de-Celis, C., ... & Hidalgo-García, C. (2022). Is Cervical Stabilization Exercise Immediately Effective in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain and Upper Cervical Spine Dysfunction? Randomized Controlled Trial. Life, 12(5), 714.

    [3] Hasan, S., Härtl, R., & Hofstetter, C. P. (2019). The benefit zone of full-endoscopic spine surgery. Journal of Spine Surgery, 5(Suppl 1), S41.

    [4] Yuan, B., Zhou, S., Chen, X., Wang, Z., Liu, W., & Jia, L. (2017). Gallie technique versus atlantoaxial screw-rod constructs in the treatment of atlantoaxial sagittal instability: a retrospective study of 49 patients. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research, 12(1), 1-8.

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