Acute cervical spine syndrome


The area of Cervical spine (cervical spine) includes vertebrae 1 to 7. Als Cervical spine- or Cervical syndrome the complaints that originate in this area are generally referred to. A distinction is often made between acute cervical spine syndromes and chronic cervical spine syndromes. The complaints last longer than 3 months one speaks of a chronic cervical spine syndrome.

In acute cervical spine syndromes, injuries caused by sudden overuse are usually the cause. These include e.g. the injury to the cervical spine in traffic accidents, the so-called cervical spine whiplash. Acute cervical spine syndromes can also result from vigorous exercise or exposure to drafts.

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The Cervical spine syndrome can be classified according to different criteria. One possibility is the classification according to the course to undertake. For complaints that longer than 3 months stop, one speaks of a chronic cervical spine syndrome. Compared to acute cervical spine syndrome, in which the pain is limited to the spine, no specific pain point can be specified in the chronic course.

The cervical spine syndrome can also occur Radiation of pain to be grouped:

  • local cervical spine syndrome
  • pseudoradicular cervical spine syndrome
  • radicular cervical spine syndrome

The radicular cervical spine syndrome concerns the Nerve root (Latin. radix) and radiates along the relevant nerves. The pseudoradicular cervical spine syndrome however, it does not affect the nerve root and manifests itself in headaches, dizziness, and hearing and swallowing disorders. If the lower part of the cervical spine is affected, the pain can also spread to the arms.

Another way of classifying the cervical spine syndrome is according to Localization of pain:

  • upper cervical spine syndrome: pain in the area of ​​the first or second cervical vertebrae
  • middle cervical spine syndrome: pain in the area of ​​the third, fourth or fifth cervical vertebrae
  • Lower cervical spine syndrome: pain in the area of ​​the cervical vertebrae 6, 7 or 8.


In the acute cervical spine syndrome, a distinction is made between general and specific complaints, which depend on the degree of damage to the cervical spine. General pain includes local knocking / pressure pain over the spine, pain when the cervical spine is overstretched, and increased pain when moving the head. Regardless of the location of the damage, headache, dizziness, visual disturbances and sensory disturbances in the arms can also occur.

Read more on the subject at:

  • Cervical spine syndrome and headache
  • Cervical spine syndrome and dizziness
  • Cervical spine syndrome and tinnitus
  • Cervical spine syndrome and nausea
  • Cervical spine syndrome and visual impairment

In the upper cervical spine syndrome, neck pain radiating to the head is characteristic. The pain often extends from the back of the head to the forehead.

In the middle cervical spine syndrome, the symptoms typically occur with radiating pain between the shoulder blades and over the shoulder. In addition to arm pain, numbness or paralysis can also occur in the arm. This is the case with radicular syndrome (= clinical picture as a result of nerve damage).

In the case of the lower cervical spine syndrome, in addition to pain and paralysis in the arm, there are also discomforts in the hands. Depending on the exact localization of the symptoms, it can be determined which cervical vertebra is affected.

Read more on the subject at:

  • Symptoms of cervical spine syndrome
  • Neck pain with headache

Acute cervical spine syndrome with blockages

The blockage can be the cause of an acute cervical spine syndrome or it can be a symptom. The latter is mainly supported by a preceding one Whiplash favored, which is considered to be a common cause of acute cervical spine syndrome. You can also degenerative processes cause a blockage in connection with acute cervical spine syndrome. Continuous stress on the cervical spine can also provoke a blockage.

Because of the blockage, people suffer from one limited mobility. The rotation, extension and flexion movements in particular are reduced in scope. In technical terminology, such a restriction of mobility due to a blockage is also called "segmental dysfunction" designated.
Another notable aspect is that the blockage occurs in the context of an acute cervical spine syndrome reinforce yourself can. Because the blockage comes with severe pain, those affected often take one Relieving posture (torticollis) a. The result is one extreme tensionwhich ultimately prevents the blockage from being released.
Other typical symptoms that occur with any blockage in the context of a cervical spine syndrome are Paresthesia in the upper extremities, such as tingling or numbness. Furthermore, irritation or damage to some nerves can result Attacks of dizziness, Visual disturbances and Difficulty swallowing occur.


According to current guidelines, one speaks of one acute cervical spine syndrome, if the Complaints last a maximum of 3 months. As soon as the symptoms have persisted for more than 3 months, the cervical spine syndrome is classified as a chronic form.
A relevant indication for the classification of the cervical spine syndrome based on the duration is that "unspecific Neck pain“Are considered acute if they last a maximum of 3 weeks. This means that neck pain is only considered acute after a diagnosis of the "cervical spine syndrome" up to a maximum of 3 months and not 3 weeks.

The Duration of the individual complaints can within these 3 months ivary individually. Symptoms can manifest themselves in as little as a few minutes to hours and days. Depending on how often the symptoms occur, the acute cervical spine syndrome can be very stressful.
Some sufferers complain of daily pain, sensory disturbances or blockages that are associated with restricted mobility. Mild courses possibly describe phases in which the symptoms are less intense or hardly pronounced and break out again due to certain trigger factors.


The most common causes for acute cervical spine syndrome Injuries to the cervical spine like for example Fractures or Whiplashthat often arise in car accidents. Accidents can also be acute Vertebral joint blockages come, which manifest themselves in painful restrictions on the rotation or inclination of the cervical spine. This pain can also radiate into the shoulder or arm. This also results in a Tension of the cervical spine muscles, so that after the vertebral blockage has been released, tense muscles remain for a few days and can also cause pain.

Other causes can be due to wear and tear (see: Degenerative spinal disease). This wear and tear can be caused by Disc damage (Intervertebral disc protrusion of the cervical spine, herniated disc of the cervical spine) Disturbance of the vertebral joints or through the Loss of the function of retaining straps (ligamentous insufficiency) come about.
In addition, you can congenital malformations such as a block or wedge vortex or Stunted growth favor a cervical spine disease.
Also inflammatory diseases (e.g. ankylosing spondylitis, Infectious diseases), Bone loss, Primary tumors (e.g. Plasmacytoma) or Bone metastases can cause cervical spine disease.


In the event of an emergency, such as an acute cervical spine syndrome caused by an accident, the following things should be observed:

  • Call an ambulance
  • General measures: Calm down and / or cover the patient
  • Flat position (if necessary, stabilization of the cervical spine with a cervical collar). The patient should remain in bed until help has arrived.
  • Control of blood pressure and pulse

There are various options for treating acute cervical spine syndrome. One of them is conservative drug therapy. The drugs are intended to support physical therapy and relieve symptoms. Various painkillers are used, which on the one hand reduce the pain, but also partially counteract any inflammation. This also includes the common drugs such as Paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Heat applications can also be performed to relieve symptoms. Fango and moor packs, red light, hot air or a heating pad are particularly effective in treating acute painful conditions. A neck tie can be used to immobilize acute symptoms for a few days and relieve the pain.

After a cervical spine syndrome, physiotherapy (physiotherapy) is of great importance for pain relief, muscle relaxation and targeted muscle building, especially in the rehabilitation phase. It includes massages, careful traction of the cervical spine, isometric exercises to strengthen the neck muscles and learning about back-friendly everyday behavior. Excessive movements should be avoided so as not to irritate the nerve roots too much.

Read more on the subject at:

  • Physiotherapy for cervical spine syndrome
  • Exercises for a cervical spine syndrome

Manual therapy is another option for treating acute cervical spine syndrome. In manual therapy, manipulations with an axial pulling direction (in the direction of an axis) are primarily used. The focus is not only on treating the vertebrae, but also on the intervertebral discs. Short, vigorous stretching lowers the pressure that acts on the intervertebral discs. The stretching of the cervical spine for causal pain therapy can either be done manually or with devices. A gentle, easily controllable pull is possible with the so-called Glisson's loop.

In therapeutic local anesthesia, a long-acting local anesthetic is injected into the neck muscles or near the nerve exit points. This temporarily blocks the nerves and thus the transmission of pain.

In addition to the therapy measures listed above, it is advisable to ensure regular exercise and avoid incorrect posture. This helps prevent cervical spine syndrome.

Read more on the subject at: Treatment of cervical spine syndrome