The X-rays above are a comparison of two side views of the neck. The image on the left is a near perfect example of a healthy cervical spine. The image on the right belongs to a patient who has experienced debilitating headaches for decades.
The top bone of the neck is C1 (atlas). In the left image, notice how the space above and below the atlas is relatively equal. It’s designed this way to allow for healthy movement of the head. In the right image, take a close look at the yellow arrow. How does this space compare to that of the blue arrow?
Often times patients with this type of misalignment will have tension at the back of the head or upper neck, with pain that can migrate upwards towards the top or side of the head. They can suffer with these symptoms for weeks or even years!
But here’s what you may find most surprising… some physicians might consider this x-ray presentation to be normal. Since there are no visible fractures, dislocation, or pathology, the film is labeled “unremarkable” or “essentially normal.”
Many patients will accept this diagnosis, or lack there of, and go on living with chronic headaches because one doctor told them there’s nothing wrong. In reality, there is something wrong, but not all doctors look for the same things.
That’s why “second opinions” are so important. So if you haven’t been getting the answers you’re searching for, it might be time to think outside the box and try something new.