Clarkson University Professor Emeritus of Physical Therapy Leslie Russek recently led an international team of researchers and expert clinicians in publishing an article titled “Presentation and physical therapy management of upper cervical instability in patients with symptomatic generalized joint hypermobility: International expert consensus recommendations.”
Russek specializes in a condition called Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD), where people have abnormal connective tissue throughout the body. Many tissues are affected, but the most visible are hypermobile joints. The upper cervical spine is particularly important because it provides mobility for the head, but must also protect the brainstem, cranial nerves, and blood supply to and from the brain.
People with hypermobility in the upper neck may have headaches, muscle spasm, ‘bobble-head,’ ‘brain fog,’ poor coordination, seizure-like episodes or even loss of consciousness. Failure to diagnose the problem correctly may lead to years of inappropriate treatments.
Although there is not yet any research about treatment of cervical instability in people with HSD, Russek felt that there were clinical experts around the world who had a lot of experience working with these patients. However, this knowledge was not being shared – especially in the U.S., where HSD is not often diagnosed and not often studied.
Russek gathered a team of 16 other HSD experts, including people from across the U.S., England, and Australia. After more than a year of virtual meetings, the group came up with the recommendations recently published. The article is available on-line at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2022.1072764/full.