Joint subluxation involves misalignment or dysfunction. This condition is described as an incomplete or partial dislocation but also includes “jammed”, injured and deteriorated joints. Generally, neck subluxation causes the spinal facet joints to misalign, thus they do not move normally, lacks adequate blood supply and unable to transmit accurate nerve information. Remember that subluxation is quite common in the neck than any other region in the spine. The main cause of neck subluxation is trauma but arthritis, poor posture and even muscle spasms are considered as contributing factors.
Neck subluxation is typically caused by trauma. Vehicular accidents, slips and falls as well as sports injuries are the usual causes. With these forms of trauma, the neck of an individual is subjected to excessive extension and flexion that is commonly called as whiplash.
The neck is prone to such injuries since the skull serves as a 10-12 pound fulcrum which adds excessive force on the cervical spinal joints and results to misalignment.
Once misaligned, the subluxated joints can affect the neighboring blood flow, nerve function and muscle tension. The spinal neck joints can become fully dislocated and fractured with trauma but a subluxation is a common condition. Within the neck, the upper two vertebrae and the lowest two vertebrae are commonly subluxated due to the biomechanics of the neck and direction of the facet joints are meant to move.
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis causes destruction of the spinal joint. The destruction of the joint such as disc degeneration and bone spurs always leads to misalignment and dysfunction. Neck subluxation due to mild to moderate arthritis can become unstable with movement, although severe cases of arthritis often lead to fusion.
Poor posture can be often considered as micro trauma over extended periods of time. With this in mind, the individual should observe correct posture at all times. The neck joints can become subluxated by excessive extension, flexion or rotation. Sitting at a desk or work station often produces excess flexion which causes the normal curve of the neck to reverse and drive the two upper neck joints into abnormal positions. If the individual sleeps face down or prone, it often produces excess rotation for a long period which causes undue rotation among the uppermost vertebra and the skull.
Muscle tension that can lead to spasm when an individual is subjected to constant mental stress or physical labor also increases the risk for neck subluxation since the muscles will clamp down on the spinal joints, resulting to malposition and limitation of movement. The sternocleidomastoid muscle is one of the neck muscles that become spasmodic due to exertion, stress or even chills. Once this muscle spasm, it is called as acute torticollis.