Cervical vertebral subluxation — overview and treatment options

A diagnosis of cervical vertebral subluxation means a misalignment exists within the seven uppermost vertebrae of the spine. This is the cervical (upper) spinal region, and because it bears the weight of the head and is subject to a broad range of stress-inducing movement, it is particularly vulnerable to the development of issues. Conditions can be caused by traumatic injury or related to the aging process.

Some chiropractors believe that subluxation, or misalignment, within the spine causes a wide variety of illnesses, in addition to neck or back pain. While most mainstream physicians and many other chiropractors subscribe to the conventional, scientifically proven relationship between cervical nerve root compression and the development of pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the upper extremities.

Overview of nerves in the cervical spine

While chiropractic medicine has greatly evolved since its founding a little more than a century ago, its originator, D.D. Palmer, postulated that 95 percent of disease and illness could be attributed to what he called subluxations within the spine. According to Palmer and his disciples, misalignments within the cervical region could be blamed for headaches, nervousness, sinus trouble, a stiff neck, the common cold and much more.

This metaphysical relationship between overall health and the alignment of the spine remains unsubstantiated by science, but as chiropractic medicine has developed over the years, it has attempted to establish a direct link between misalignment of the seven cervical vertebrae (denoted as C1 to C7) and symptoms within the areas where the corresponding nerves travel:

  • C1 — blood supply to the head, pituitary gland, scalp, face bones, brain, inner and middle ear, sympathetic nervous system
  • C2 — eyes, optic nerves, auditory nerves, sinuses, mastoid bones, tongue, forehead
  • C3 — cheeks, outer ear, face bones, teeth, trifacial nerve
  • C4 — nose, lips, mouth, eustachian tube
  • C5 — vocal cords, neck glands, pharynx
  • C6 — neck muscles, shoulders, tonsils
  • C7 — thyroid gland, bursae in the shoulders, elbows

Treatment of cervical subluxation

Chiropractors attempt to treat neck pain and other symptoms associated with cervical vertebral subluxation by using spinal manipulation, or adjustments made either by hand or with a machine. Many patients are able to find lasting relief when chiropractic care is combined with a broader plan of conservative options like rest, medication, physical therapy and hot and cold compression treatment. However, surgery may become an option if weeks or months don’t bring the relief needed to comfortably engage in everyday activities.

If you’ve been unable to achieve relief through chiropractic therapy or other forms of conservative treatment for cervical nerve compression symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that has helped more than 75,000 patients with neck and back pain find relief.

To help you learn more and find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, we are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI review.*