Case Profile: Advanced Degenerative Osteoarthritis of the Cervical-Thoracic Spine

Author: Fred Kahn MD, FRCS (C)
Source: Meditech International Inc.


The patient is a 73 year old real estate executive who was involved in a plane crash 23 years previously. He had chronic/acute pain over many years, which had progressed significantly over the past 3 months. He had difficulty turning his neck, driving and engaging in many routine physical activities. He had utilized chiropractic adjustments and analgesics to relieve symptoms, with minimal temporary improvement at best. X-rays revealed degenerative disc disease from C3 to C7 and left foraminal narrowing at C2-3, C3-4 and C4-5 secondary to extensive osteophyte formation.

Physical Examination:

Moderate tenderness was noted from C3-T2. The range of motion of the cervical spine with regard to flexion, extension, lateral rotation and lateral flexion was less than 20% of normal. Significant muscle spasm was noted in the paracervical area and extended to the trapezii. Neurological examination was found to be within normal limits.


Initially Laser Therapy treatments were administered on 6 consecutive days and subsequently every 2-3 days over the succeeding 10 weeks, for a total of 26 treatments.


After only 4 treatments, subjective improvement of 60% was reported and the cervical range of motion had improved to over 50%. At the termination of the course of Laser Therapy comprising 26 treatments, the range of motion of the cervical spine was within normal limits. There was no tenderness on palpation and no muscle spasm was noted. The patient had not utilized pharmaceuticals in several weeks and was able to perform all normal physical activities without limitation.


  • The two cases presented are typical of the problems that we see on a daily basis.
  • Almost invariably, subjective symptoms disappear early in the course of Laser Therapy and patients are returned to a relatively normal range of motion and function, without the use of pharmaceuticals.
  • Frequency and duration of treatment, along with correct positioning of the treatment arrays and probes, are critical to the process of achieving optimal therapeutic results.
  • All indications are that the cervical spine is best treated in a relatively neutral position with the patient comfortably seated in a chair.
  • Customization of protocols, as required, includes pulse frequency, duty cycle, waveform, duration, etc.
  • Attention to detail facilitates the course of healing.
  • Generally, protocols are initiated at lower settings, which may be increased as clinically dictated.
  • Based on our knowledge and experience, we recommend that Laser Therapy be utilized as the treatment of choice in dealing with pathologies of the cervical spine.
Back To Resources