What is Cervical Spine Degeneration?

Dr. Kristina Fruechtl Blog

The term “cervical” in this case refers to the region of the neck. Cervical spine degeneration is a broad category term used to describe a host of types of joint pain and arthritic changes to the bone, cartilage, ligaments and inter-vertebral discs that are visible on x-ray or advanced imaging such as MRI or CT scans.  Lab tests that are indicative of high inflammation such as hs-CRP can also be a sign of arthritis, but more commonly so with a specific type, called Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease and differs from the more commonly known and experienced Osteoarthritis.


Joint complex degeneration occurs over time with wear and tear on the structures of the joints from direct injury, repetitive injury, postural stresses, or from other physiologic stressors that cause inflammation.  This is something that develops over several years. A portion of this development is related to genetic factors, however you have influence on this with lifestyle choices including nutrition, physical activity, and general well-being.  Cervical spine degeneration is a significant contributor to chronic pain, some types of headaches, and muscle tension, and more advanced forms can lead to nerve or spinal cord problems.


Some things you can do to prevent development of cervical spine degeneration include having good work station ergonomics so that you aren’t slouching in your chair with the head and neck drawn forward; reducing the amount of time spend looking down at tablets, smartphones or other technology; sleeping with a supportive pillow that contours with the natural curve of your neck; doing daily stretching of the neck, chest and shoulder regions; doing core strengthening exercises (while most people think of the core as having to do with the central abdominal area, the core is a very strong supporter of the neck); having regular bodywork done including massage to reduce muscle tension that creates negative mechanical forces on the spine and having chiropractic adjustments to promote good spine movement and function.

We want to know, what do you do that helps keep your cervical spine healthy?  




Murphy, Donald R. (2000) Conservative Management of Cervical Spine Syndromes. McGraw-Hill.