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Orthopade. 2006 Mar;35(3):306-18.

[Functional disorders and functional diseases in the region of the upper cervical spine particularly regarding the cervical joints. Current status and clinical relevance].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Zentrum für spezielle Chirurgie des Bewegungsapparates, Klinik und Hochschulambulanz für Orthopädie, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité, Universitätsmedizin, Berlin.


Functional disorders of the upper cervical spine may be responsible for or the primary cause of persistent complaints following an injury or illness. Functional disorders involving the cervical joints, especially C0/C1 and C1/2 but also the C2/3 junction are of particular clinical relevance. Range of motion assessment is extremely important for the diagnosis of joint disorders. Hypomobility or "blockade" can be diagnosed using special examination techniques that, in many cases, can be extended for direct manual therapy. Periarticular structures involved in these dysfunctional processes, especially muscles and fasciae, must also be examined and treated. Clinical manifestations may include locally restricted muscle extensibility (e.g., trigger points, tension or muscle shortening) with zones of radiating pain as well as referred problems distal to the primary lesion. Functional disorders in the region of the upper cervical spine may be accompanied by various types of reflexive compensatory problems. Although they must be diagnosed separately, these disorders frequently respond to the manual therapy techniques used to treat the underlying functional problem. Even if the exact correlations to functional medicine cannot be scientifically demonstrated in every case, functional assessment and treatment techniques are, in our view, a useful addition to the armamentarium for orthopedic diagnosis and treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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