Cervical spine degeneration: radiographic analysis demonstrating the Kirkaldy-Willis model : a case report

Matthew T. Smith, Peter W. Bull, Brent D. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To review the existing literature regarding the nature of cervical spine degeneration, with specific emphasis on the Kirkaldy- Willis model. This information is presented and used to analyse the radiographic features of a case study demonstrating a classic representation of this model occurring over a 9 year period in the cervical spine of a patient. Case: A 42 year old woman presents with a history of chronic neck pain. Her symptoms include reduced range of motion and pins and needles extending down the right arm and into the thumb. Radiological, CT and MRI findings indicate degenerative joint disease, intervertebral disc protrusion at C5/6, and C6/7 right lateral recess stenosis. Conclusion: This case presents a classic demonstration of the Kirkaldy-Willis model, and how degenerative joint disease affects the cervical spine in a patient, occurring over a 9 year period. By better understanding the pathophysiology of joint degeneration, and how degenerative changes in a 5-joint complex progress through 3 identifiable stages, practitioners can recognise early changes, which are visible on routine chiropractic x-rays, and predict the likely outcome of their patient's structural and functional state. This will enable practitioners to provide a better standard of care with emphasis on early preventative medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-99
Number of pages8
JournalChiropractic Journal of Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • chiropractic
  • cervical vertebrae
  • osteoarthritis
  • intervertebral disc
  • degeneration
  • Kirrkaldy-Willls
  • degenerative joint

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