Definition of Cervical Spine Syndrome in English

The orthopaedist calls cervical spine syndrome, cervical syndrome or cervical spine syndrome painful complaints in the neck and shoulder that easily become chronic. Prevention through sport is the best remedy for cervical spine syndrome.

What is cervical spine syndrome?

The cervical spine syndrome stands for cervical spine syndrome. The symptoms are not only limited to the neck region, but also appear as radiating pain that spreads to the shoulders and arms.

According to, headaches are also part of the cervical spine syndrome. In extreme cases, in addition to muscle hardening, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or blurred vision can also occur. Numbness and tingling in the arms and hands are typical of the cervical spine syndrome. Even paralysis of the fingers and arm muscles cause problems for the patient. Sometimes those affected also complain of disturbed sleep at night or difficulty swallowing.

Depending on the location of the focus of the disease, doctors distinguish between a lower and an upper cervical spine syndrome. A distinction is also made between acute and chronic course, another classification is made according to the underlying causes of the cervical spine syndrome.


The cervical spine syndrome can have several triggers. It’s often just temporary postural damage that’s not difficult to fix. More serious, however, is a post-traumatic cervical spine syndrome, which occurs particularly after car accidents. The whiplash (distortion, twisting) is one of the typical causes of the cervical spine syndrome.

Signs of wear and tear of the vertebral bodies are often the cause, rarely this leads to a herniated disc in the neck area. Completely without recognizable pathological changes, two cervical vertebrae are sometimes blocked, which suddenly can no longer move in relation to each other.

Sometimes worn facet joints are also involved. Because these intervertebral connections on the vertebral processes also play an important role in the statics and mobility of the cervical spine. Finally, the possible causes include a number of malignant bone diseases such as tumors or inflammation of the cervical vertebrae as part of the cervical spine syndrome.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

In the case of cervical spine syndrome, patients primarily suffer from very severe pain. This pain occurs mainly in the neck or shoulders and has a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. They often spread to the back or head and can also lead to very unpleasant symptoms there.

The cervical spine syndrome often leads to a hardening of the muscles, which can lead to tension. Circulatory disorders are also not uncommon and can lead to 8[sensory disturbances]] or numbness. Many patients with cervical spine syndrome also experience dizziness and nausea. If the cervical spine syndrome is not treated, the circulatory disorders usually worsen, which can lead to visual disturbances or hearing problems.

In the worst case, these complaints remain and can no longer be treated. It can cause tingling in the extremities. The person affected is significantly restricted in their everyday life by the symptoms of the cervical spine syndrome, so that the syndrome can also lead to mental disorders or depression. Due to the permanent pain, many sufferers also adopt a protective posture.

Diagnosis & History

The doctor suspects the cervical spine syndrome when the patient describes the symptoms mentioned. If hardening of the neck and shoulder muscles is noticeable and the mobility of the head is restricted, imaging methods are used. The doctor uses X-ray methods or magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) to identify possible causes of the cervical spine syndrome.

If the cervical spine syndrome remains untreated for a long time or proves to be therapy-resistant, there is a risk of it becoming chronic. The patient involuntarily tries to avoid a painful position of the neck and permanently gets used to a bad posture.

This in turn can lead to permanent deformation of the cervical spine. With such manifestations of the cervical spine syndrome, only the symptoms can ultimately be combated. The medical consultation is therefore a necessity even in the early stages of the cervical spine syndrome.


The cervical spine syndrome mainly causes severe and stabbing pain in the shoulder and neck area. This pain can occur in the form of rest pain or pressure pain, with rest pain always interfering with sleep and possibly leading to sleep disorders. The diagnosis of the cervical spine syndrome is usually relatively simple, so that early treatment can be initiated.

The severe pain often leads to irritability in the patient and psychological upsets. It is not uncommon for the pain to spread to other regions, so that the patient also suffers from headaches or dizziness. In general, circulatory disorders develop, which can affect different regions of the body.

This can lead to paralysis or sensory disturbances throughout the body. Furthermore, there can be problems with the ears or the eyes, which can make everyday life of the affected person very difficult. The treatment of the cervical spine syndrome is usually through sport or through various therapies.

The course of the disease is always positive. However, the situation is different if a tumor is responsible for the cervical spine syndrome. In this case it cannot be predicted whether a complete recovery of the patient is possible.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor should always be consulted if the cervical spine syndrome is the result of a strong impact. This is most often the case with rear-end collisions in the car or with sports injuries. If these triggers are present, it is advisable to visit your family doctor and ask for a more precise diagnosis. The family doctor will examine the severity of the cervical spine syndrome and whether there are other problems or damage caused by the event that has occurred. In some cases, the family doctor will refer the patient directly to the orthopedist.

Milder forms of cervical spine syndrome that are not caused by an accident or impact do not necessarily require a medical check-up. If the cervical spine syndrome arises from tension in the back, neck and neck muscles, it is usually temporary and heals after a few days without any action. Warmth and protection replace a visit to the doctor here.

However, if the symptoms worsen after a few days and there are also severe headaches, it is highly advisable to see your family doctor. An indicator for the visit to the doctor is also the mobility or the restriction of mobility of the neck. If the neck still cannot be moved or turned after a few days, a medical check-up is advisable.

Treatment & Therapy

In the case of cervical spine syndrome, physiotherapeutic treatment is of the utmost importance. Massages loosen the tense muscles of the neck and shoulders. Special gymnastic exercises, which also help to promote blood circulation, serve to strengthen them.

A careful overstretching of the cervical spine by the physiotherapist stretches the ligaments and relieves the intervertebral discs. In the back school, the patient learns new movement sequences and postures, which also counteract the cervical spine syndrome.

To relieve the symptoms, the doctor will prescribe pain relievers and drugs that cause muscle relaxation. However, caution is advised with prolonged use of Valium and other tranquilizers because of the risk of dependency. On the other hand, it is helpful and harmless to use heat from red light radiation, fango packs or grain pillows.

However, radical interventions require underlying diseases such as tumors or other tissue-consuming processes. The surgeon may have to intervene in this case. Chemotherapy may also be essential in the causal treatment of the cervical spine syndrome.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis for cervical spine syndrome essentially depends on three factors: the severity of the condition, the cause and the options for treatment, and the willingness of the patient to help the patient recover by changing their behavior.

In general, the earlier a cervical spine syndrome is recognized and treated, the better the prognosis. Therefore, it is up to the patient to prevent the cervical spine syndrome from becoming chronic by seeing a doctor at an early stage. The cause also plays a role in the prospects for relief. If a cervical spine syndrome occurs because the patient has been exposed to drafts or because he has had one-sided strain in the area of ​​the arm, shoulder and cervical spine for a few days, the prospects of spontaneous healing are usually very good.

The situation is different if the bony structures of the cervical spine, the ligament and the nerves in the spinal canal have been damaged as a result of constant stress or an accident. Here, the success of the treatment depends on the extent to which a nerve can recover from the compression.

The cooperation of the patient is also of central importance with regard to the cervical spine syndrome and its prognosis. If the cause of the symptoms lies in the behavior of the patient, possibly due to an unhealthy posture at the desk or the wrong mattress, relief can only be achieved with the patient’s help.


Preventing cervical spine syndrome turns out to be a relatively easy task in practice. The prerequisite is that the patient achieves a permanent change in some lifestyle habits. Regular recreational sport is the first choice here. Swimming or Nordic walking, for example, are well suited. Above all, it is important that the chosen type of sport is fun for the patient so that he can continue to practice the physical exercises in the long term.

What else is part of everyday behavior that is appropriate for the spine, people learn in the back school. Even without symptoms or manifest illnesses, the health insurance company may contribute to the costs before expensive rehabilitation is necessary. The health insurance consultants are very familiar with the long-term consequences of the cervical spine syndrome.


After cervical spine syndrome has been treated, exercises to stretch and strengthen the cervical spine are helpful. In some cases, prescriptions for physiotherapy are prescribed by the general practitioner or orthopedist. Massages, manual therapy or physiotherapy take place there. The massage helps with tense muscles and the manual therapy releases blockages.

Physiotherapy strengthens the muscles with the help of equipment or free exercises. This relieves the spine and the individual vertebral joints. Many exercises can then be continued at home. Since the trigger of the cervical spine syndrome is often tension, poor posture should be avoided. Many people sit in the same position for hours at work.

The workplace should be ergonomically designed. It is important to have the right desk height and the distance to the screen. If you have to sit all the time in your job, you should compensate for this with regular exercise and possible strength training. In general, exercise is the best prevention of cervical spine syndrome. The correct sleeping position also plays a major role.

In this way, complaints caused by the wrong position while sleeping can be avoided. In some cases, the symptoms are triggered by stress. Relaxation techniques can help. Because when the inner tension falls away, the tension dissolves. Yoga is also a good option for harmonizing body and mind. At the same time, special physical exercises strengthen the neck and back. Depending on the cause, there are different measures for the aftercare of cervical spine syndromes.

You can do that yourself

A diagnosed cervical spine syndrome cannot be remedied purely by self-treatment. People who notice the corresponding symptoms should consult an orthopedist or their general practitioner first. However, in addition to the important physiotherapy, the treatment also relies on the patient’s help.

The basis for successful treatment lies in regular visits to physiotherapy treatment. The tightened muscles are first loosened by massage, ultrasound therapy and heat applications. Once the tension has been relieved, the ligaments involved must be gently stretched. This can also be done by an osteopath. Then the patient is shown exercises to strengthen the muscles.

The back school or rehabilitation sport are possibilities for this. Those affected should take advantage of these offers consistently. Only through targeted muscle building can posture be improved and lasting treatment success ensured. The exercises learned there must be repeated at home and ideally incorporated into everyday life.

Above all, patients with a predominantly sedentary office job should check their workplace: distance to the monitor, change to a desk or exercise ball. Smaller walks can also be incorporated into everyday working life.

The statutory health insurance companies also offer programs for health promotion – with massages and sports activities – at the workplace. To treat acute pain, light painkillers can be taken and local heat can be applied. However, only strengthening the muscular holding apparatus helps in the long term.

Cervical Spine Syndrome