Cervical spine

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16 Lessons

The cervical spine is the most mobile segment of the spine and is predisposed to complaints brought about by wear-and-tear phenomena. Scientific studies show that around one third of the adult population suffers from neck problems, even though these problems do not always require treatment. Pain may be related to the cervical discs, zygoapophyseal and uncovertebral joints, ligaments, muscles and neural structures.

The comparatively large range of motion of the cervical spine and the orientation of the zygapophyseal joints can lead to overuse or, as a result of repetitive minor injuries, to acceleration of degenerative changes/osteoarthritis.

It has been established that the intervertebral discs in the cervical spine show degenerative changes in the third decade of life that might lead to a restricted range of motion and, more importantly, motion-induced pain. In particular, for football players who might be inappropriately heading the ball, an asymmetrical load on the cervical spine could also result in the early onset of degenerative changes in the intervertebral joints and discs.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this topic, you should:

  • be aware of the major causes of cervical spine pain in football
  • be able to diagnose cervical spine injuries by taking an appropriate history, examination and order an appropriate investigation (where needed)
  • understand and be able to implement an appropriate conservative treatment and rehabilitation programme to treat cervical injuries and disorders in football players
  • understand the potential sequelae following cervical injuries and their treatment
  • have an understanding regarding the effectiveness and implementation of injury prevention programmes


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