Spine Archive: Cervical

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The Areas of the Spine and What they Do – Spine Health 101

There are three main sections that make up the spine. To learn more about the spine, search Dr. Anthony Leone’s Knowledge Center.

The spine is arranged into three specific section that together form the shape of an “s” when viewed from the side. Beginning at the top, this area is referred to as the cervical spine and has a natural inward curve. This inward curve is referred to as “lordotic”. The middle area of the spine is also called the thoracic spine. This section has a slight inward curve, referred to as “kyphotic”. The final section is referred to as the lumbar curve, which like the cervical, has a natural inward curve. Together, these areas of the spine work together to absorb weight, maintain balance, and allow full ranges of motion throughout.

There are two muscle groups that are related to the spine – flexors and extensors. Flexor muscles are front-facing and include the abdominal wall. Flexors allow us to bend forward, flex, and also assist in controlling the lumbar arch. Extensor muscles are back-facing and allow us to stand upright and assist in lifting objects. Just as the three sections of the spine work in tandem, these two muscle groups do as well.

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What is Lordosis?

Abnormal curvature of the spine and other spinal abnormalities can be found here in Dr. Leone’s Knowledge Center.

The normal inward curving of the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (upper back) areas of the spine is known as lordosis. When this curvature becomes extreme it is called lumbar hyperlordosis or “swayback”. In hyperlordosis, the pelvis is titled and rests on top of the thighs and exhibits a concave direction when the patient is standing at a proper posture.

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Disc Degeneration

Degeneration of the spinal discs is often called “degenerative disc disease”. This is a misnomer because this degeneration is not specifically a disease. These are normal changes to the spinal discs as they age. These soft areas of the spine act as shock absorption and also allow movement too. As time goes on, these discs get worn down and can result in pain along the spine as section of vertebrae will begin to grind into one another. This pain is often associated with the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions of the spine.

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Neurapraxia Treatment

Neurapraxia is often related to sports injuries. Football players making direct “head down” contact with one another increase the possibility of high axial loading to the cervical spinal column. Treatment for neurapraxia is generally “supportive” – meaning treating the injury as early as possible to curtail the development of the problem area. Sometimes treatment will include surgery to alleviate the target area. This is typically seen much more in adults than in children, where neurapraxia is less common.

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Cervical Cord Neurapraxia

When localized trauma is concentrated to the cervical spinal cord, this injury is referred to as neurapraxia. This trauma can be induced by over extension, flexion of a limb beyond it’s normal limits, or “head down” contact involving the head (often seen in football). The symptoms of neurapraxia typically last for a short time but can be persistent for two days or more.

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Cervical Spine

The spinal area around the neck is referred to as the cervical region of the spine. This area of the spine is responsible for sending messages to all areas of the body via the brain. This area of the spine is not only strong but also surprisingly flexible as well. Because of the cervical spine’s location, this complex construction is open to trauma and can fall prey to a number of painful spinal conditions.

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Cervical Disc Herniations in Athletes, WNY

Sports injuries are very common. Contact Dr. Leone for more information.

Cervical disc herniations in athletes who are involved in tackling sports can have disastrous sequelae if ignored. Players with disc bulges without frank herniation can return to sports when radicular symptoms have resolved and after the player has achieved full and painless motion of the neck.¹

¹Garfin MD, Steven. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update : Spine. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1997.

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Sports Injuries, Erie County

The demands of sports such as football can lead to serious spine injuries. Contact Dr. Leone for more information.

The incidence of cervical spine injuries in football players has been estimated to range from 10% to 15%. Lineman, defensive ends, and linebackers who perform a lot of tackling are at greater risk for these injuries. When cervical injuries do occur, the most likely mechanism is from flexion and axial loading of the neck. Until the injured player is brought to the emergency room, all pads and the helmet should be left on because significant alterations in cervical alignment can occur during removal of the protective equipment.¹

¹Garfin MD, Steven. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update : Spine. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1997.

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Genetic Spine Conditions in Children

A child’s health is greatly influenced by genes inherited from his or her parents. Most cervical spine conditions are linked to genetics. These genetic issues are most often cause by genetic inheritance, irregular development in the uterus, or other unknowns.

These cervical spine conditions vary greatly and each has its own set of associated symptoms. Because of this, treatment and outcomes often fluctuate as a result. These conditions can develop before birth while others are dormant until further child development takes place.

Because of the many factors associated with these genetic diseases, children can all react differently in the severity and symptoms correlated. Their growth and development is often directly affected by cervical spine conditions.

If your physician suspects your child of showing symptoms associated with a spine condition, he or she might recommend genetic testing of your child.

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Cervical Discography

Controlled, perspective study of cervical discography in lifelong asymptomatic subjects and chronic, nonlitigious head and neck pain sufferers has the established the validity of this procedure in skilled and experience hands, MRI has been shown to be insensitive at detecting clinically significant lesions of cervical discs in patients suffering chronic axial and/or radicular pain without neurological deficit. The role of upper cervical discs and spinal structures in the pathogenesis of cephalalgia (cervicogenic headache) has been recently investigated and described. Cervical discography performed at all accessible cervical levels may aid the investigation of pain of suspected cervical discogenic origin.

¹Abitbol MD, Jean-Jacques. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update: Spine. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2002.