A CCJ Instability Treatment Update

by Chris Centeno, MD /

CCJ instability treatment

As you may recall, we’ve been using a novel CCJ instability treatment for the last two years. This procedure is different from other treatments in that we inject the alar, transverse, and accessory ligaments directly through the back of the throat using X-ray guidance. We’ve seen excellent results, but outside of updating you on a medical conference presentation here or there, I’ve stayed away from posting most patient results until we have more cases under our belt. However, now that we have used this procedure 40+ times and have a sense of what to expect, it’s time to begin introducing some of the patients who have had their lives changed. One, this morning, is Allison.

What Is CCJ Instability?

CCJ instability means that the head is not firmly connected with strong ligaments to the neck. These ligaments may have been damaged or loosened via trauma, disease, or both. The ligaments that are most commonly cited are the alar, transverse, and accessory ligaments. The problem is tough to treat, and most of these patients only get slight improvements with attempts to tighten the ligaments at the back of the neck. Others will end up with super-invasive surgeries that have very high side effects and severe injury rates.

Meet Allison

Allison is an acupuncturist who I have treated for years for injuries sustained in car crashes and through other mechanisms. I have injected her upper neck joints, the ligaments at the back of her neck, the nerves in her neck and back, and many other areas. Her upper neck had remained a mess no matter what I did. While I could get her some temporary relief in this area, just before I decided to allow her to try the CCJ procedure she told me that she could knock her head out of alignment simply by scratching her forehead!

While we did her CCJ instability treatment a few months ago, I wanted to share with you a series of e-mails she just sent as they tell a compelling story about how Allison is doing:

“Hi Dr. Centeno,

I wanted to share some of my progress with you.

While in Cabo San Lucas, I rode around in the golf cart with my husband while he played at a course called Diamante.  When I just couldn’t stand sitting in the cart anymore, I pinched some clubs from his rental bag and took a few swings.

Heeeheeee :o). It wasn’t horrible.  I didn’t feel dizzy, I didn’t get a raging headache, and the consequences didn’t extend to the next day, and the next day, and the next day… Yay!!

It did knock my C1 vertebra out to the left, but I could get it back in by shoving the transverse process back to the right.  And, it did cause some swelling in my neck, but nothing that didn’t resolve on its own overnight.

Granted, my lower back has its own issues, but as for the CCJ problems, I’m getting remarkably better.  And all after only 17 weeks!

The next time he played, he was on The Dunes course at Diamante (ranked #38 in the world).  This time I snitched some of his clubs on 3 of the holes and played the entire hole.

On the 10th hardest hole on the course, I made par.

On the 2nd hardest hole I was 1 over.

On the 1st hardest hole I was 2 over.

All this on a) rental clubs. b) on men’s stiff shafted rental clubs (I play 2 shafts down from that) c) into a 20-30 mile an hour headwind/crosswind d) after not swinging a club at all in 3 years

It felt so good to do something “normal” I actually cried.

Here are some pictures of my first swing (pitching up onto the green in a pink shirt and flip flops), and me playing the #1 hardest hole at Diamante (on the tee box in the white shirt—I even matched the distance of my husband’s drive from only 1 tee box forward. Ha!)

Thank you so much for all your help, and for all you do for the advancement of medicine.   You are a godsend!

All my best,

Allison Suddard”

“Well, I did it!  I played an entire 18 hole round at the course I told you about (The Dunes at Diamante/#38 in the world).

I’m SO excited that I could play 18 holes all at once. I haven’t done that in 4-5 years. I would usually have to stop around 10–12 holes and couldn’t even tee up my own ball.

I shot 100 (my old scores would have been in the high 80s to low 90s), but given all the factors I mentioned before, and given my starting point back at the end of October, I am ecstatic :0))).

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Allison Suddard”

The upshot? I’m so glad that I was able to help Allison with this new CCJ instability procedure. We’ve seen some amazing results so far, and we continue to gain experience with this new technique. Hopefully, in a few years, this procedure will become routine so that we can help many more CCJ instability patients!

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2 thoughts on “A CCJ Instability Treatment Update

  1. Rachelle Meredith

    I have headaches, and walk with gant walk . I’m a flight attendant and been in pain for 27 years . I first hurt my neck when I was 25 years old. Have tried chiropractors, acupuncture physical therapy and dry needling. I ‘m a mom of two teenage boys and don’t have a lot if money. How much does this cost and is there a plan so you can make payments? Please help I haven’t been able to live a regular life

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Rachelle,

      Dealing with that type of pain for 27 years is horrible. Importantly though, most patiets can be helped with simpler treatments, like platelet based cervical facet joint injections and injections into the stabilizing ligaments of the cervical spine. It’s when those types of treatments fail, that the Cerviocranial Instability is suspected. The Alar Transverse CCJ Instability treatment has very specific requirements to be eligible for treatment because it is a very new procedure. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/candidacy-for-ccj-instability-procedure/ and http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/back-surgery-alternative/

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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