Overview: Diagnosis of the Cervical Spine

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Overview: Diagnosis of the Cervical Spine

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The cervical spine is thought of as three separate regions that should be assessed for individually for dysfunction. Below you can find more information in regards to diagnosing the separate regions of the cervical spine.

Important Concepts:

  • Fryette NEVER wrote about the cervical spine
  • During cervical diagnosis, the physician is palpating the ARTICULAR PILLARS or LATERAL MASSES 
  • The true transverse processes of the cervical spine are the anterior and posterior tubercles
  • The 1st palpable transverse process is C1 → behind the ear, below the mastoid process 
  • The 1st palpable Spinous process is on C2
  • In the Atlantoaxial (AA) joint, C1 Rotates ON C2
    • Know and understand the motion of a joint refers to the top segment in relation to the bottom segment 
  • The motion of the vertebrae is named for the anterior portion of the vertebral body

Tips for Palpation:  

OA Joint

  • Occipital Sulcus – this the space between the occiput and C1
    • Use the occiput to your advantage, slide down the occiput until you drop off the bone, then move your fingers more cephalad…your fingers should be in the sulcus 
    • The Deeper sulcus is the side the occiput is rotated.  Occipital condyle is more posterior, producing a deeper sulcus
      • ie. Deep right sulcus = OA rotated right

Typical Cervicals

  • Articular Pillars (aka Lateral Masses) → from C2-C7
    • The articular pillar that is more posterior indicates vertebrae rotation to that side
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