Cervical spine syndrome and visual disturbances
A cervical spine syndrome can be associated with a variety of complaints, with visual disturbances often also occurring. The cause can be various pathological changes in the cervical spine, such as muscular tension or joint wear and tear.
Often there is an impairment of small nerve tracts or blood vessels. This results in various symptoms in the head area, such as headaches or visual disturbances.
Relationship of the cervical spine syndrome and visual disturbances
A cervical spine syndrome is not a uniform clinical picture, but a summary of various complaints, which can also include visual disturbances and which can be due to different causes. The symptoms are usually based on a pathological change in the cervical spine.
A lack of exercise, too frequent sitting, but also increased stress can be the cause of muscular tension in the shoulders or neck. The cramping of the muscles can also affect nerve tracts or blood vessels. One possible cause of visual disturbances in the context of a cervical spine syndrome is therefore circulatory disorders in the eyes.
In addition to muscular tension, joint wear can also be the cause of the complaints. It is also possible that a rheumatic disease leads to a cervical spine syndrome with visual disturbances.
The same applies to an injury involving the cervical spine, such as a traffic accident with whiplash.
Visual disturbances can also occur with other diseases, which can be dangerous and must be treated promptly and specifically. Therefore, visual disturbances should better be clarified by a doctor's visit.
Read more on the topic: Muscle tension in the neck
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The cervical spine syndrome can present itself in many forms and, in addition to visual disturbances, be accompanied by a variety of other accompanying symptoms.
Most people affected primarily report pain and limited mobility in the neck and shoulders. The pain can also radiate and manifest as a headache or arm discomfort.
Abnormal sensations, such as tingling or numbness in the arms or hands, can also appear as accompanying symptoms in addition to visual disturbances. Some people also suffer from dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or difficulty swallowing.
Read more on the topic: Symptoms of cervical spine syndrome
Visual disturbances in cervical spine syndrome can present themselves in a variety of ways. Some sufferers mainly describe a burning sensation in their eyes. Both eyes are usually affected. The burning sensation often subsides on its own after a while and is triggered again under certain circumstances, such as stress.
In principle, however, burning eyes can have a variety of other causes. In addition to irritation, for example due to an allergic reaction to grass or house dust, the incipient inflammation of the conjunctiva can initially manifest itself as a burning sensation in the eyes. If visual disturbances such as burning eyes appear or become very distressing, a doctor should therefore be consulted.
Read more on the topic: Burning eyes
Visual disturbances in the context of a cervical spine syndrome can be accompanied by flashes of the eyes. Presumably, these are short-term circulatory disorders in the eyes, which can be traced back to the muscular tension in the neck area. However, even people without a health problem can occasionally experience brief flashes of the eyes. This usually has no disease value, is harmless and does not require any treatment.
However, if there are an unusually large number of flashes of light and you feel restricted by this visual impairment, an early presentation to the ophthalmologist is recommended. Particularly in the case of older people or those with concomitant diseases such as diabetes (“diabetes”), it must be ruled out that a detachment of the retina is the cause. If, however, no treatable cause of the flashes of light described by the patient can be determined, the cervical spine syndrome often remains as a diagnosis of exclusion with simultaneous neck complaints.
Eye flicker can have many different causes, but in most cases it is harmless. This is especially true if the symptoms only occur occasionally and disappear on their own after a short time.
A cervical spine syndrome can be the cause, among other things. However, if the eye flicker does not subside or gets worse, a doctor should clarify the visual impairment.
Read more on the topic: Eye flicker
Eye twitching is a common symptom that can occasionally occur in many perfectly healthy people.
In the vast majority of cases, this is harmless and does not require any further clarification or treatment. Even if this visual disorder occurs as part of a cervical spine syndrome, there is no cause for concern. If you treat the underlying complaints in the neck area by applying heat and physical activity, the complaints in the eye usually also subside.
If eye twitching persists for a long time or is felt to be very distressing or worrying, it may be useful to consult a doctor.
A cervical spine syndrome can lead to a wide variety of visual disturbances or symptoms in the eyes.
However, if the eyes are puffy, there is usually another cause. For example, inflammation of part of the eyes may be responsible. Water retention as part of severe kidney or liver disease can also cause puffy eyes.
Often, however, the eyes are only perceived as puffy if one has slept poorly at night. Since complaints due to a cervical spine syndrome can often impair sleep, this can indirectly lead to the visual disturbance or the swollen eyes.
Read more on the topic: Swollen eyes
Dry eyes are usually not the result of a cervical spine syndrome. Even if complaints emanating from the neck can in principle cause all kinds of visual disturbances, dry eyes tend to have a different, independent cause.
This can, for example, be a disease with impaired production of tear fluid. But even if you spend a lot of time in an environment with dry, warm air, dry eyes can occur. Artificial tear fluid can help. If dry eyes occur frequently and are bothersome, a consultation with a doctor is indicated.
Read more on the topic: Dry eyes
If a cervical spine syndrome causes visual disturbances, it usually does not lead to red eyes. These can more likely provide an indication of another cause of the visual disturbances that occur independently of the neck discomfort. Red eyes can occur, for example, as part of inflammation of the conjunctiva or cornea.
Reddening that is only one-sided and limited can also be caused by a burst vein. If this occurs rarely and only in one eye, there is no need to worry. The blood is broken down by the body within a few days and the blood vessels recover quickly. However, if new vision problems occur and the eyes are red, a doctor should be consulted for clarification.
Read more on the topic: Reddened eyes
If there is a cervical spine syndrome and is accompanied by visual disturbances, some sufferers report an increased feeling of pressure in the eyes. This is usually a faulty perception due to the impairment caused by the tense neck muscles. The actual intraocular pressure is normal in most cases.
However, there are also eye diseases in which the intraocular pressure is actually increased and in which one should definitely strive to reduce it through medicinal measures. One speaks of glaucoma or “glaucoma” which, if left untreated, can lead to blindness in the worst case. For this reason, you should consult an ophthalmologist promptly if you have newly developed visual disturbances and eye pressure.
Disorder of the optic nerve
A direct disruption of the optic nerve is usually not to be expected from a cervical spine syndrome.
In contrast to many other nerves, the optic nerve does not originate from the spinal cord of the cervical spine but directly from the brain. It is therefore not disturbed even with severe neck pain or tension in the neck area. Visual disturbances in the cervical spine syndrome are more likely to be traced back to an impairment of the blood supply, since the entire blood supply to the head coming from the heart can only take place via the blood vessels in the neck. In principle, the optic nerve can also be indirectly disturbed because, like all other parts of the visual apparatus, it depends on an adequate blood supply.
Ultimately, it is usually not possible to exactly explain how visual disturbances occur in a cervical spine syndrome or which part of the eyes is affected.
In the case of a cervical spine syndrome with visual disturbances, the causes are combated. Since in the majority of cases there is muscular tension in the neck muscles, application of heat to the affected region, by means of red light irradiation or grain pillows, often provides the patient with relief.
In the case of new or acutely worsening neck problems, an anti-inflammatory pain reliever can also be taken over a period of a few days so that natural movements are possible again and the tension subside. In the course of such treatment, the visual disturbances usually subside if they are caused by the cervical spine syndrome.
Targeted exercises for stretching and strengthening the cervical spine are best suited for a cervical spine syndrome, which can also be carried out preventively. For example, you can sit up straight, carefully turn your head to one side and nod slowly several times. Then repeat the movements while turning your head in the other direction.
Another exercise for treating symptoms caused by a cervical spine syndrome can be performed as follows: Tilt your head to one side and place your hand on the same side of your body over your head to the opposite temple. Now try carefully to tilt your head a little further until you feel a gentle pull (no pain!) And hold the position for about 30 seconds. Performed several times a day, the symptoms can often be alleviated by such exercises. For long-term therapy, however, it is important to identify and reduce possible triggers for the cervical spine syndrome and the associated visual disturbances. In addition to regular physical activity, stress should be reduced as far as possible and sitting for too long should be avoided.
Further information on this:
- Treatment of cervical spine syndrome
- Physiotherapy for cervical spine syndrome
In order to make the diagnosis of a cervical spine syndrome with visual disturbances, the doctor will first ask a few specific questions in conversation with the patient.
He will want to know exactly which complaints are present, how long they have existed and whether there is a trigger. In addition, it is usually asked whether the patient has other illnesses and whether he is taking medication.
Then the doctor will physically examine the patient, depending on the complaints expressed. He will probably examine the neck area and head mobility. In addition, due to the visual disturbances, he will look at the eyes and shine into them if necessary.
Different variants are possible depending on the findings of the examination and the results of the conversation. Either the diagnosis of cervical spine syndrome with visual disturbances can already be made or further examinations must be initiated in order to investigate other possible diagnoses. If necessary, a referral to an ophthalmologist may also be indicated. It is also possible that the visual disturbances are not related to the cervical spine syndrome, but that there is another disease.
It is not possible to make a general statement about the duration of visual disturbances in a cervical spine syndrome, since this health disorder is very diverse and depends on various factors.
In some people, the visual disturbances only appear for a short time and go away within a few minutes or a few hours. In other people who suffer from a cervical spine syndrome, temporary visual disturbances occur again and again, which can occur at irregular intervals over months or even years.
However, if visual disturbances occur and persist, a medical examination is recommended, as another disease that requires treatment can also be the cause.
Read more on the topic: Duration of a cervical spine syndrome