Background: Disorders of the cervical spine are common and often disabling. The etiology of these disorders is often multifactorial and a comprehensive approach to both diagnosis and management is essential to successful resolution.
Objective: This article provides an overview of a clinical model of the diagnosis and management of patients with disorders related to the cervical spine. This model is based in part on the scientific literature, clinical experience, and communication with other practitioners over the course of the past 20 years.
Discussion: The clinical model presented here involves taking a systematic approach to diagnosis, and management. The diagnostic process is one that asks three essential questions. The answers to these questions then guides the management process, allowing the physician to apply specific methods that address the many factors that can be involved in each individual patient. This clinical model allows the physician to individualize the management strategy while utilizing principles that can be applied to all patients. At times, the management strategy must be multidisciplinary, and cooperation with other physicians and therapists is often necessary for effective patient care.
This model is currently being used by the author in practice, as well as forming the basis upon which further research can be conducted to refine or, if necessary, abandon any of its aspects, as the evidence dictates.
It is the purpose of this paper to present this clinical model and the clinical and scientific evidence, or lack thereof, of its components.