Symptoms of a craniocervical junction disorder usually start with headaches and pain at the back of the head. These symptoms tend to worsen with movement of the head and neck, such as when coughing or bending forward. Activity particularly neck flexion will exacerbate symptoms. Wearing a rigid cervical collar may be a method of determining if the excess motion in this region is contributing to symptoms.
Some of the most complex cases of upper cervical disorders cause spinal cord compression. Whenever your spinal cord is compressed (pressed or squeezed together), nerve-related problems can occur that make functioning in daily life a challenge.
Symptoms of spinal cord compression include:
Symptoms caused by brain and cranial nerve pressure include:
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Greenfield, MD, PhD
Last reviewed/last updated: March 2022