How to Treat a Cervical Spine Subluxation

Written by vanessa newman
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How to Treat a Cervical Spine Subluxation
Treating a cervical spine subluxation takes rest and time. (pain ii image by Mykola Velychko from

A subluxation is defined medically as a "partial abnormal separation of the articular surfaces of a joint," and by chiropractors as a spinal misalignment. One can occur from an injury such as a car accident, an illness like rheumatoid arthritis or due to chronic muscle strain. Symptoms are: neurological issues like numbness in arms or hands, migraines, GI problems, pain, lower back issues, and high blood pressure. The source of the subluxation will influence your treatment options. According to the Journal, Musculoskeletal Medicine, a hard neck collar is more commonly used for cervical neck issues after a fracture or accident, for example.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Get evaluated by an appropriate medical professional. Your general practitioner may not recognise or be able to treat a cervical subluxation. However, an orthopaedic doctor, osteopath or chiropractor can evaluate and diagnose this issue. You may need X-rays or a CAT scan to evaluate the exact location and orientation of the subluxation.

  2. 2

    Rest and limit neck activity. If you had an accident, injury or recent trauma to your neck causing the cervical subluxation, it needs rest and time to heal. Driving a car all day in which you need to turn your head, might intensify symptoms. Check with your doctor about which activities will aggravate your symptoms.

  3. 3

    Use cervical devices. If you injured your neck in an accident, a hard neck collar will help immobilise and limit movement. Soft neck collars are also used. If your cervical subluxation is from an illness, you can use a cervical pillow to reduce pain. Ice packs can reduce inflammation and heat packs can improve blood flow.

  4. 4

    Use pain relievers. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help. You may need an anti-inflammatory prescribed by a doctor or even a muscle relaxant to tackle the pain and swelling.

  5. 5

    Do manual therapy. For cervical issues, manual therapy can be performed by physical or massage therapists to reduce muscular tension contributing to neck issues. Additionally, passive stretching is beneficial for alleviating muscular tension that can pull the cervical spine out of alignment.

  6. 6

    Research whether or not to get cervical manipulation (chiropractic care). According to the medical journal, Spine, cervical spine manipulation and mobilisation can help acute neck pain and associated issues, but there is also risk involved, such as stroke. In ten million manipulations, complications happen five to ten times. Manipulation seems to reduce pain better than mobilisation alone.

Tips and warnings

  • Range of movement exercises and stretches for the neck can improve mobility.
  • Do not apply ice to the neck area for more than 20 minutes at a time. If you are sensitive to cold, check with your doctor about whether heat would be appropriate.

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