What is it?

CranioCervical Instability (CCI) is a condition where there is abnormal movement or instability between the skull and the cervical spine (neck). This condition can cause a variety of symptoms and can be challenging to diagnose.

The cervical spine is made up of seven vertebrae that support the head and allow for neck movement. The skull sits on the first cervical vertebra called the atlas (C1) which is supported by ligaments that hold it in place. In CCI, these ligaments are weakened or damaged, causing instability and abnormal movement between the skull and the neck.

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Additional names

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of CCI can vary widely and may include:

- Neck pain or stiffness
- Headaches
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Nausea or vomiting
- Tingling or numbness in the arms or hands
- Weakness or loss of coordination
- Difficulty swallowing or speaking
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Sensitivity to light or sound


CCI is challenging to diagnose because the symptoms can be nonspecific and overlap with other conditions. Diagnosis typically involves a combination of imaging studies and clinical evaluation. Imaging studies such as MRI, CT scan, or dynamic X-rays can be used to assess the stability of the skull and cervical spine. Clinical evaluation may involve specialized tests such as the neck flexion test or the cervical flexion-rotation test.


The treatment of CCI depends on the severity of the condition and the individual's symptoms. Conservative treatments may include physical therapy to strengthen the neck muscles and improve posture, bracing to support the neck, or medication to manage symptoms such as pain or nausea. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to stabilize the skull and cervical spine.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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