How Is Cervical Instability Diagnosed?

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Nearly every adult has experienced some form of neck pain at one point in their lives. Whether chronic or acute, musculoskeletal neck pain has affected virtually everyone from time to time. While some men and women may have an obvious explanation for their neck pain, others often struggle to understand what may be causing their painful and frustrating symptoms. This can lead to a delay in treatment and, in some cases, worsening of an underlying condition. One such condition is cervical instability, which can be difficult to identify without the expertise of a qualified orthopedic professional. The knowledgeable team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, led by Dr. Christopher Williams, is committed to helping patients identify the root cause of their neck pain, understand cervical instability, and achieve reliable and long-lasting relief from their symptoms.


What is cervical instability?

Cervical instability is an orthopedic condition characterized in part by hypermobility of the cervical vertebrae. In patients with cervical instability, these neck vertebrae are able to move beyond their normal range of motion due to ligaments that have become loose or overly stretched out. This leads to difficulty supporting the head or moving, twisting, and turning the neck comfortably.


What causes cervical instability?

There are a number of potential causes and risk factors for cervical instability, the most common of which include:


  • Trauma: A car accident, whiplash, or another similarly traumatic episode can damage the cervical spine, disrupt the ligaments, and ultimately lead to chronic cervical instability.


  • Microinjuries: Repetitive overuse that causes microinjuries to the ligaments and other structures in the cervical spine can result in cervical instability and long-term neck pain.


  • Genetic disorder: Men and women with Down Syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos, and certain other syndromes often develop cervical instability as a symptom of their condition.


  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): RA and other arthritic conditions can also lead to cervical instability as a result of the progressive deterioration of the joints and vertebrae in the neck.


Recognize the symptoms of cervical instability

The symptoms of cervical instability often mimic the symptoms of other orthopedic, musculoskeletal, and neurologic conditions. However, there are some key signs and symptoms that may mean you do, in fact, have instability of the cervical spine, including:


  • Difficulty holding up your head for a long period of time
  • Feeling of heaviness in the head
  • Pain in the upper neck near the base of the skull
  • Pain referred to the shoulder
  • Stiff or tight neck
  • Recurrent headache
  • Tenderness in the neck and base of the head
  • Shakiness in the neck/head
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems


Find out if you have cervical instability

Like many other orthopedic conditions, cervical instability can be exceptionally difficult to diagnose without the expertise of a highly experienced and knowledgeable provider and typically requires a clinical diagnosis. During your consultation for neck pain in Atlanta, GA, Dr. Williams will thoroughly evaluate your symptoms, take a detailed health history, perform any necessary imaging studies, and assess additional personal factors before determining if cervical instability is an accurate diagnosis.


How is cervical instability treated?

Fortunately, there are a number of advanced and effective options available to treat cervical instability. The ideal treatment can vary from patient to patient, depending on the severity of their symptoms, the cause of their cervical instability, and other factors. Most commonly, cervical instability is treated using one or more of the following techniques:


  • Injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint stabilization
  • Manipulation
  • Fusion surgery
  • Medications


Additionally, Dr. Williams is proud to offer Regenexx® therapy as a breakthrough alternative for the treatment of a multitude of orthopedic conditions, including cervical instability. The advanced Regenexx technology utilizes a patient’s own stem cells to regenerate new, healthy cells and relieve or reverse common orthopedic problems without the need for surgery.


Find out what’s really causing your neck pain with a cervical instability diagnosis in Atlanta, GA

There’s no question that the most critical step in getting effective treatment and long-lasting pain relief for your cervical instability is receiving a professional diagnosis. If you are suffering from any of the symptoms of cervical instability above, we invite you to call the knowledgeable team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to schedule your private in-office or online consultation with award-winning orthopedic expert Dr. Christopher Williams to learn more about how you can get long-term relief today.




* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.