Sometimes I just love the titles that I come up with for these blogs! The reason that I wrote this blog, and the interesting title, was to catch your attention and show you a case that I saw on AOL news today. Recently, a man cracked his neck and ended up with numbness all down his left side due to an impingement on the vertebral artery. Let’s talk some anatomy here folks. In a human being’s spinal column there are seven bones in the neck and they are labelled C-1 to C-7. When there is a lot of neck irritation, a little piece of extra bone forms on top of C-1, and this is called a ponticulus posticus- check out the photo below:
Do you see how terribly straight this person’s neck is? This is too straight for good comfort. When the neck is like this, your body tends to create more bone on top of C-1 to help provide support for the neck. Good idea, right? Wrong! As I wrote about some time ago, the vertebral artery snakes through this area and if you have that little piece of extra bone there, it could easily break if you are undergoing chiropractic treatment where they snap or crunch your neck. This is why I tell my patients that snapping a neck with a prominent ponticulus would not be a good thing. You will in fact have a very bad day if that is snapped and it breaks. Well, this is possibly and even likely that this is what happened when that fellow snapped his own neck- he may have cracked off a bit of that ponticulus posticus and it pinched the vertebral artery and made him numb on that side. It is also possible that an osteophyte broke off and caused this too. This is such a serious condition that the guy should probably get an Xray to see if there is a piece of bone up in that area. I do not, unfortunately, know how to contact him and explain this. I have, however, contacted the news reporter via Facebook and left the message that perhaps I could explain this more. We shall see if she responds.
For those of you who are interested, here is the link to the original article: